Canadian Gift in Kind Receipts

If you aren’t in Canada, this blog isn’t for you! (We do at some point need to look at special Gift in Kind receipts for the U.S.A., but sorry, we’re not there yet.)

Currently Canadian users have an option (in Maintenance -> Receipt Options) whether or not to use a distinct format for Gift in Kind (GIK) receipts. However, the CRA requires a distinct format, with different information and rules (like including on the receipt a description of what the gift actually was, and only including one GIK per receipts).

So we are thinking that Canadian users should be forced to use the distinct GIK receipts, and this should be a change enforced by the next release of DONATION.

The only downside I see to this is for users who weren’t using the distinct receipts, but were using the mail-merge version of the receipts and had customized them with additional wording etc. They would then have to make those same customizations on the mail-merge GIK receipt template. But that seems very doable – you can cut and paste changes from the regular to the GIK receipt template, in the built-in mail merge editor.

For regular receipts you had already created that include Gift in Kind donations, if you ever need to reprint them or correct them etc., you could still do so normally, but using the main Receipt menu options, not the Receipt -> Gift in Kind submenu options. Of course, those receipts would still not be fully adhering to CRA rules. Alternatively, you could delete any GIK donations included in regular receipts, issue a corrected regular receipt excluding those now deleted donations, then re-enter the GIK donations and issue them properly as GIK receipts.

Does anyone see any clear objection to this change – forcing turning on of using distinct GIK receipts for all Canadian users? Since it’s a CRA requirement, I really can’t imagine a justification for that, but I’m open to input. (Of course this would not affect users who never have GIK donations!)

Thank you. As always, you can reply by commenting on the blog, or just emailing us back directly.

How to Help Users Find Help Topics (2)

Further to yesterday’s post at, here is the messagebox I have added, as a new Help -> Search by Topic or Keyword menu option:


Any thoughts, particularly suggestions for improving it? Thanks to those of you who commented yesterday.

For your information, this change has been released, in version 3.82b of DONATION, and also in version 1.39 of our ACCOUNTS program.

How to help users find help topics

Hi DONATION advisors. I’m often surprised when talking to users on the phone, or via things that come out in email exchanges, that they don’t seem to know how to find help by topics we give them or by sensible keywords (like for instance “pledge” if they want to know about pledges).

This is despite the fact that I at least think the menu option Help -> Contents and Index should be pretty obvious (especially when we’ve told them to look something up in the Index of the Help) and also, there is the menu option Help -> How to Use Help.

I’m wondering about the idea of adding a Help -> Search by Topic or Keyword menu option, which just pops up a messagebox saying something like this:

 To search for Help by a topic title or a word related to what you want to know, please use the Help -> Contents and Index menu option, make sure you are on the Index tab near the top left, and type what you are looking for into the entry field below those tabs.

Alternatively, you can use the Help -> How to Use Help menu option, which takes you to a Help page with full details about how to use the Help. Would you like to see that page now?

                              Yes     No

Do you think that would help some people find help topics without us having to guide them very explicitly through it? We’d appreciate your comments.



New Software4Nonprofits Website

Hello DONATION beta testers and advisors.

We have been working on updating our website to look good on any device, especially mobile devices like phones and tablets. It should have an appropriately adjusted display for those devices, so it’s not just squished pages as it is now. On your computer, it should look very much the same as before.

While we have been able to test the pages on a couple of different phones and tablets, obviously that testing is still limited. So we would like to invite you to please take a look at the draft version, which starts at [non-existent site removed] (the caps on “NEW” are required!). If you can, look at it with both a regular web browser on your computer, and any devices you have. Please report any problems in the display and navigation of specific pages to us, so that we can fix them.

When reporting display and navigation problems, please include:

  • the device and the screen size (if known),
  • the problem web page,
  • and the description of the problem.

If you see any typos or anything that appears to be bad writing or factual errors, we’d also love to hear about that! (Those things probably haven’t changed from the current live website.)

Please enjoy the new experience of our website on your mobile devices. As soon as we have a reasonable number of replies, we will upload this draft to be the new official site for DONATION and ACCOUNTS at the main web address.

Thank you.

DONATION New Version Testing

Hello again DONATION beta testers. I have uploaded a new beta test version, 3.79 Beta3. We would greatly appreciate it if as many of you as possible could test it out. As usual, you get it from:

There are a lot of small improvements in it, including:

  • Email Sending Configuration working better with Gmail addresses
  • special setup for users in New Zealand
  • built-in receipts for English Canada fitting in #10 single-window envelopes
  • fixed the date format used in receipts for English Canada and the U.S.A.
  • detecting and trying to prevent duplicate envelope numbers in the same year
  • lots of other small feature improvements and bug fixes, all of which are listed on that pretest.htm page, and the Revision History in the program’s Help.

However, the biggest change from our perspective (which you should really not see at all) is a significant re-organization of the program’s code so that a lot of pieces of it can be shared with our ACCOUNTS bookkeeping program. If we have done this correctly, you won’t see a single difference from it, but if we missed something, some features could fail to work.

Of course, both Kwame and I have carefully tested pretty much every feature in the program, but we know from experience that the more different people test things, the more likely problems are to be caught, because someone else will just try something in a slightly different way than we thought of trying it.

Of course, if you encounter any problems report them to us ASAP and we will fix them and get a fix back to you ASAP as well.

Thank you very much in advance.

DONATION donor-info only password?

Hello again DONATION advisors.

If we added a special password that allowed access to only donor information, no donation or receipt information, would you see this being of value to your organizations, to let another user use the program with that password?

Doing this would actually be a fair bit more complicated than one might think – it’s not just hiding a bunch of reports and parts of various windows. For instance, some reports like Reports -> Donor -> Mailing Labels have a hidden field, that you can Filter on (or export with Save As!) showing each donor’s total donations in the current year. All such reports (and other similar places in the program that perhaps unexpectedly expose donation information) would have to be found and modified.

If this sort of password interests you, please let us know by commenting on this blog post or replying by email. If it doesn’t interest you, there’s no reason to reply, unless you have other thoughts about this possible feature (other than that you wouldn’t use it)!

Thank you.

Cloud Storage Beta Test (2)

Hello again all. I hope those of you who celebrate Christmas had a good one, and anyone else had at least a lovely few days off!

Can I ask again whether some of you who have the Standalone version, use DONATION on more than one computer, and have reliable fast Internet, could please test the new Cloud Storage Service? I really don’t want to release it without more than our own testing and the two users who I know have tested it so far.

Again, you can find it at, and the earlier post with more details about this is at

The feature is sort of an automated combination of the techniques in the Help topic “Transfer your Data between Computers” and our existing Internet backups. It prevents the dangers of two users making independent changes to their own copies of the database, which then can’t be merged, and means that you never have to remember who has the current “official” copy of the database – the program does that for you.

Testing Rewards

Anyone who does any of the following things, prior to the official release of this version (planned for the end of this month!), who is currently up to date on their payments for DONATION, will receive an extra 3 months’ renewal for support and upgrades:

  • Find and report something that we consider to be bug in a new feature (something larger than a typo in the Help).
  • Point out a flaw, that we consider should be fixed, in the design of a new feature.
  • Do very thorough testing of most or all features in a new release, evidenced by a thorough report back to us on that testing.

I’d be happy to give the same reward to anyone who already did such testing, on request.

Many thanks!