Release Notes

2016-09-26 Release Notes

This is the release of phase 1 of the major development module upgrades. This upgrade is free to all schools who are currently licensing the development modules. The upgrades to the development module are extensive and so the BigSIS team decided it would be best, most efficient, and most timely to release them in two phases. The first phase, which is now available to you, concerns the input side of development (e.g., new types of donations, major improvements to donor profiles, automatic billing, etc.) while the second phase concerns the output side of development (e.g., new reports, spreadsheets, data output, etc.). We are proud to introduce the first phase to you and we look forward to releasing the second phase soon.*

*Preliminary Note #1: Some of the new features listed below require a new free training that BigSIS is making available to all schools who license the development module. The new training will cover all the latest changes as well as new ways to accept donations. This training is required before we can turn on the ability to do recurring billing because this feature requires you to understand how authorize.net and BigSIS work together before you start using the feature. Please contact support@bigsis.com to schedule your free training right away.

*Preliminary Note #2: Use of the new automatic online billing method requires at least on person at the school to receive nightly billing summaries (provided by BigSIS) to review all automatic online billing daily and ensure it is correct as well as ensure any issues reported by the summary (e.g., insufficient funds, credit card expired, etc.) are resolved in a timely fashion.

*Preliminary Note #3: Using authorize.net with the new features in BigSIS in an incorrect way may result in the two systems becoming out of sync. This is why training is essential, it should help prevent any and all issues of this kind. However, if the two systems do get out of sync due to user error, it will be the school’s responsibility to correct any sync issues. If the school is unable to resolve these sync issues and/or prefers BigSIS to handle them, this will incur charges.

NEW FEATURES

  1. Donations
    1. The internal and public donation forms have been updated to include many of the new features listed below (e.g., new payment options for the donation)
    2. Donations may now be made in any of the following formats:
      1. One-time gift paid in full at the time of donation
      2. One-time gift paid in full on a future date (pledge)
      3. One-time gift paid in installments over a specified period of time (pledge)
      4. Ongoing/recurring gift paid periodically (e.g., once per month) indefinitely (subscription) NEW*
    3. All donations may now be made online using automatic online billing through authorize.net. This includes the ability to take a hands-off approach and have authorize.net bill all pledge installments and periodic subscription gifts so you no longer have to handle these manually.
    4. For any donation format, you now have the option to accept both credit card and eCheck transactions. eCheck transactions will deduct funds from a donor’s bank account and may incur lower transactions fees on you than credit card transactions.
    5. Gift matching tools have been added to help you track donations that have been or can be matched.
    6. Related to the addition of the new gift matching tools, there is a new alert you may set up to alert your staff that a new donation has been made that is marked as a potential gift to match.
    7. Pledges and subscription/recurring gifts may now be edited. In the past, if a person made a pledge donation that later needed to be changed, you would have to terminate that pledge and begin a new one to reflect the change in amount or schedule. With the release of phase 1 of the development upgrades, these kinds of gifts can now be edited without requiring them to be closed. Their amount and schedule may be changes as well as their payment type (e.g., from check to automatic online credit card payments or vice versa).
    8. The in-kind gift option has been overhauled. You may now designate three distinct values for in-kind gifts: (1) donor perceived value, (2) fair market value, (3) final value. These values will play distinct roles in reports. To find out more about the difference between these three values, read the exhaustive help instructions now available when making an in-kind gift.
    9. Funds and appeals may now be more intimately tied directly to campaigns.
    10. When editing a donation, there is a new user interface that outlines all the essential information about the donation and makes it easy to adjust the donation if necessary.
    11. A new table has been added to Donations > Payments titled Unpaid Offline Recurring Gifts. This new table will list all subscription/recurring gifts that are not set up to be automatically paid via authorize.net.
    12. New filters are available on the donations table allowing you to filter donations by donation type (e.g., gifts, incomplete pledges, completed pledges, automatic payments, etc.), gift matching status, and anonymity of the gift.
    13. Individual anonymous donations are now easier. A new built-in option to mark a donation as anonymous is now available. Anonymous donations will be displayed as such on reports.
    14. The ability to create multiple donation forms has been added. You may now create one donation form to collect donations for one campaign and then a second, distinct donation to collect donations for a different campaign. You may feature as many of these forms as you like on your school’s website and each can behave differently than other donation forms.
    15. A new alert has been added that allows your staff to be sent a daily summary of donation transactions. This alert is required in order to use many of the new tools available in this update.
    16. Confirmation Emails
      1. When donations and donation payments are made, you now have the option to send a quick confirmation email to the donor acknowledging reception of their donation or donation payment. You may set up these confirmation emails in donation templates. Each donation form Note: These are not the same as formal Thank You letters that you may send out at a later time. Thank You letters are not new, they have been available for a long time in BigSIS. What is new is the ability to send quick informal confirmation emails to donors to give them a quick informal acknowledgment that their donation or donation payment has been received. Confirmation emails should not replace official, formal Thank You letters.
      2. Tip: this is especially useful for recurring payments or installment payments for pledges because users may now be notified immediately and automatically after each periodic payment is made.
  2. Donor Profiles
    1. Donor profiles now calculate giving name and donor profile greetings automatically. This will save you from having to go into each donor profile and adding a new giving name or greeting manually. There are new override options should you desire to override the default names that BigSIS generates.
    2. When making a new donation, the donor profile of the donor will be displayed in the donation form. Administrators will have the option to include family members to the donor profile at this time. This will save you a lot of time because in the past when this was not possible, you were required to take the extra step of editing the donor profile and adding family members from there. Now, BigSIS will display all family members at the time you are entering the donation and will ask you if you want to include other family members, such as a spouse, to the donor profile at this time. Adding other people to a donor profile will cause BigSIS to automatically re-calculate the donor profile giving name and greeting.
    3. Donor profile mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses are automatically generated from the default member of a donor profile. If the default member moves or changes any of their contact information, BigSIS will simultaneously update the donor profile too. There is an override option should you wish to override this setting.
    4. There is an improved merging system from the donor profile table.
    5. The search on the donor profile table now allows you to search for the first name, last name, maiden name, and nickname of any of the members of a donor profile.
    6. There is now an option to designate a donor profile as anonymous. This will render all donations made by this donor profile as anonymous by default (though this can be overridden for individual donations when necessary).
    7. All gift matching relationships will now be displayed and editable directly from a donor profile.
    8. All subscription/recurring gift donations will now be displayed and editable directly from a donor profile.
    9. The export from the donor profile has been improved to include more data about individual donations made from the donor profile.
  3. Donor Portal
    1. A new donor portal is available. To activate it, you must go to System > Settings > Portal Setup. Also, in order for donors to see all the tabs in the donor portal, you must activate recurring billing (BigSIS will help you activate this during the required training for the new tools).
    2. Thew new donor portal will include a tab listing all active donations a donor has (e.g., any incomplete pledges and ongoing subscription/recurring gifts).
    3. Donor are now be able to view their donations and cancel any ongoing donations from the portal.
    4. Donors are now able to make donations directly from the donor portal.
    5. Donors now also have access to a donation history tab that lists all donations they have made and include exhaustive information about these donations.

Coming Soon

  1. We’ve already released a lot of updates for phase 1 but the update was so big we could not fit every new change into the release. Coming very soon as part of phase 1 is
    1. New donor profile “potential duplicate” detector that sends staff member emails about potential duplicates BigSIS detects.
    2. Donor portal documents. You will soon have the ability to store documents for donors in the donor portal including copies of any mail merge letters you have sent them.