The CMDI Blog

New Feature: MeS Credit Card Reconciliation Reports

Posted by on Aug 22, 2016 in News & Announcements, Product News, The Blog | 0 comments

New Feature: MeS Credit Card Reconciliation Reports

New Feature | CMDI.com

If you use WidgetMakr or if you have a Merchant e-Solutions (MeS) account linked to your Crimson database, there are several reports now available to make it easier to reconcile credit card transactions processed through your merchant account.

A merchant account is a type of bank account that enables your campaign to accept donations through credit or debit cards. These accounts process the credit or debit card payments in order to charge your Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express card.

These MeS reports were previously only available online through the MeS website but can now be directly accessed through Crimson. CMDI also customized the reports to make it easier to find transactions and donor details.

In order to access these accounts, you must be processing credit cards through Crimson,  contact the Crimson Support Team to enable access to them, and know your MeS Merchant account number and password.

MeS Reports Available in Crimson:

• Reconciliation Report
This report compares the totals for credit card transactions for each day that falls within the selected range. The report will display the total processed for each card type according to the Crimson database compared to what is reported by MeS daily.

This report is helpful when you are having trouble reconciling deposits in transit — transactions that were processed near the end of one reporting period and/or at the beginning of another.

• MeS Batch Summary
This report displays batch totals according to MeS for each credit card type. It shows total counts and amounts for each card type as well as totals for any merchant credits or refunds that were processed via MeS’ online portal.

This report does not show daily totals. Instead it displays the totals for the entire date range entered into the criteria.

• MeS Batch Detail
This report displays the MeS details for all individual transactions that match the criteria you have entered in the filters. In addition to displaying the transaction details from Crimson (e.g. batch number, batch date, card type, authorization code, amount, etc.), you can also click the links under Crimson Tran# to view the corresponding Crimson money record.

• MeS Chargeback
This report pulls MeS chargebacks that were submitted by donors in your Crimson database. In addition to the chargeback details normally shown through the reports on MeS’ online portal, you can:

  • Click on the Crimson Tran# to see the original transaction for which the chargeback was submitted.
  • Click on Crimson CB Tran# to view the chargeback adjustment record in Crimson and confirm that it was handled properly.

If you have further questions about these reports, please check out the guide on the Crimson Helpdesk or call the Crimson Support Team at 1-800-878-6837.

 

 

Next Crimson Webinars on August 10

Posted by on Aug 3, 2016 in The Blog, Webinars | 0 comments

Next Crimson Webinars on August 10

Crimson webinars in August 2016

RSVP to join our latest monthly Crimson Webinars, hosted by our Senior Support Staff next Wednesday, August 10! Choose to attend one of the following sessions:

Crimson Treasury Features Wednesday at 11 a.m. EDT

A general overview of Crimson’s Treasury features including Expenditures, Other Receipts, Invoices, Check Payments, and Reconciliation tools.

Crimson General Overview Wednesday at 2 p.m. EDT

  • A general overview: People Search, Data Entry, Reports and more
  • Newest features: Recalculate Dashboard button, Crimson ID Tokens, and more.

Please RSVP to receive your calendar invite and webinar information.

Tips from CMDI’s Compliance Experts

Posted by on Aug 2, 2016 in The Blog | 0 comments

Tips from CMDI’s Compliance Experts

Campaign finance regulations can be complicated, and even the most seasoned experts know to expect occasional errors. Our experienced compliance team has learned that the following “best practices” help prevent common mistakes. Here’s some practical advice for campaigns to keep in mind!

  • Coordination: Coordination between a campaign’s treasury and finance departments is very important. Compliance is not the only department that needs to be familiar with FEC regulations! Fundraisers should be informed, as well. They can prevent compliance problems from arising and help the compliance department operate more efficiently. For example, federal regulations ban contributions from corporations and foreign nationals. Fundraisers shouldn’t solicit contributions that the compliance department would later have to refund.
  • Data Hygiene: Data hygiene can also help the compliance department operate effectively. This is especially for true for campaigns that work with large datasets. In general, campaigns should rely on one consolidated database that includes all donor records. That way, duplicate records are easy to identify. Duplicate records make it more difficult for the compliance staff to discover an over-limit contribution before the FEC’s 60-day deadline. This can lead to unnecessary refunds. After the deadline has passed, the over-limit contribution must be refunded rather than simply re-attributed or re-designated.
  • An Ounce of Prevention: Campaigns should be aware of the most common mistakes made by donors. Unfortunately, some issues are hard to avoid. A donor may forget to sign a check or make it out to the wrong committee. Other mistakes can be prevented by solid communication with donors, such as by explaining the various contribution limits for campaigns and PACs. If campaigns remind donors of these limits, they may have fewer over-limit contributions to address later.
  • Check and double check: The most important “best practice” is to always double check. Compliance departments can’t be too careful.
  • Don’t work alone: Finally, it is a good idea to work with a company prepared to offer expert data and compliance services, like CMDI!

Holmes vs. FEC: An Uncertain Future for Primary & General Election Contribution Limits

Posted by on Aug 1, 2016 in FEC, The Blog | 0 comments

Holmes vs. FEC: An Uncertain Future for Primary & General Election Contribution Limits

“Per election” contribution limits restrict how much money donors can contribute to a campaign during the primary and general elections. For the 2016 election cycle, the FEC increased these limits to allow contributions of up to $2,700 in the primary and up to $2,700 in the general election. However, the future of “per election” limits may be uncertain.

A case challenging the constitutionality of these limits is currently being litigated in federal court. In 2014, donors Laura Holmes and Paul Jost filed a case claiming that the “per election” limits abridged their First and Fifth Amendment rights. The district court initially dismissed both claims, but the plaintiffs’ appeal was heard in 2016.

The Center for Competitive Politics, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs, justified the case by explaining that the plaintiffs still wish to abide by contribution limits set by Congress but see the split between primary and general elections as an infringement on their Constitutional rights. According to Allen Dickerson from the Center for Competitive Politics:

“[T]he law allows a contributor to associate with an individual candidate up to $5,200 per election cycle. Ms. Holmes and Mr. Jost will abide by that limit. They do not wish, however, to split their contributions between the primary and general elections in order to fully exercise their associational rights. Instead, they wish to give to candidates challenging incumbents who did not face significant opposition from within their own political party.

First, Holmes and Jost claim that the “per election” limits favor candidates who do not face primary challengers – and their donors. A candidate who did not face a primary opponent can transfer surplus primary funds. Effectively, the candidate could use an entire $5,400 contribution during the general election campaign – based on limits for the 2016 cycle. Conversely, a candidate who faces a primary challenger is likely to spend a $2,700 contribution designated for the primary election during the primary, but he or she can then only accept $2,700 during the general election.

The plaintiffs claim that the resulting “asymmetry” violates the Fifth Amendment. However, the appellate court dismissed this challenge because it arose from FEC regulations regarding the timing of contributions and the transfer of campaign funds, not the limits in the Federal Election Campaign Act.

Secondly, the plaintiffs state that, as donors, they principally wish to support their party’s nominee. They only want to contribute to the campaign during what they consider the most important part of the race, the general election. The donors would like to contribute $5,400, the total amount already permitted, to a candidate’s general election campaign. As a result, they claim that the current “per election” limits infringe on their First Amendment rights to participate in the democratic process through campaign contributions.

A 2014 Wall Street Journal editorial agreed:

“The artificial distinction between primary and general elections also makes it harder for less ideological or partisan donors, who may be less involved in primaries, to make their voices heard in the general election. A glance at the most competitive House races for 2014 shows that nearly all incumbents have a cash-on-hand advantage over challengers. Rigging the donation game for incumbents is no justification for limiting political speech.”

In April 2016, the appellate court decided that the First Amendment challenge was not “wholly unsubstantial” and deserved to move forward in the judicial process. The appellate court returned the case to the district court, which must certify the First Amendment challenge to the court of appeals before a ruling can be issued. While appellate court will hear the question again in the near future, Holmes vs. FEC has the potential to reach the Supreme Court, like many recent  cases involving political contributions.

While the elimination of “per election” contributions seems unlikely, given the uncertainty of the Supreme Court’s makeup, such a ruling is possible. However, current contribution limits will stand for the 2016 cycle. According to the FEC:

  • If a donor contributes more than $2,700 to the primary campaign:
    • The campaign can make a “presumptive re-attribution” to another joint account holder whose name appears on the check, if he or she has not also reached the contribution limit.
    • The campaign may ask the donor for permission to re-designate the surplus funds to the general election campaign.
    • If the donor does not agree to re-designate the funds, the campaign must refund the surplus contribution.

     

  • If a donor designates a contribution to the general election during the primary:
    • These funds should not be spent until after the primary election.

 

  • If a donor designates a contribution to the general election, but the candidate loses the primary:
    • If the candidate plans to seek office again, the campaign may contact donors and ask for permission to re-designate the funds to another campaign committee that belongs to the same candidate.
    • If donors do not agree to re-designate the funds, the committee must refund the contributions.

 

  • If a donor contributes more than $5,400 during an election cycle:
    • The campaign can make a “presumptive re-attribution” to another joint account holder whose name appears on the check, if he or she has not also reached the contribution limit.
    • Otherwise, the campaign must refund the surplus contribution.

For more information, see the FEC candidate guide.

This article was posted for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

Crimson Feature of the Month: ID Tokens

Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Feature of the Month, The Blog | 0 comments

Crimson Feature of the Month: ID Tokens

Feature_of_the_month_1200x628

ID tokens, one of Crimson’s latest features, associate a unique code with every donor in your Crimson database.  In WidgetMaker, the tokens can be added to widgets using URL parameters. The parameters serve to pre-populate sections of the donation form, such as name and address, based on the information in the donor’s Crimson record. This feature allows donors to make contributions more quickly and easily than ever!

If the Crimson donor record includes donation history and the Giving Matrix feature is enabled in the widget, WidgetMakr will also use this information to customize the suggested contribution levels for each donor. This feature helps campaigns optimize their fundraising efforts by asking for a contribution suitable for each donor.

Here’s how to use ID tokens:

How to Find an ID Token

1. Using the People Search feature in Crimson, enter your desired search criteria and click export. 

2. In the resulting CSV file, find the codes in last column, labeled “IdToken”.

 ID tokens I

To Associate an ID Token with a Widget

1. Open the widget you wish to use.

2. At the end of the URL, enter“?ct=” and then paste the ID token number you want to associate with the widget

ID tokens II

3. The widget will automatically populate the fields for which data is available in Crimson

4. If the Giving Matrix is enabled in WidgetMakr and donor history data is available in Crimson, the suggested contribution levels will adjust based on the donor’s previous contributions.

ID Tokens for Mass Emails
ID tokens can also be incorporated into mass fundraising emails. Your email service provider should have a format for inserting URL parameters or dynamic content inside of an email to customize the information for each recipient.

ID tokens III

For more information, please see the user guide on setting up ID tokens

New Crimson ID Tokens Make It Easier to Give Through WidgetMakr

Posted by on Jul 12, 2016 in Crimson v2, Product News, The Blog | 0 comments

New Crimson ID Tokens Make It Easier to Give Through WidgetMakr

CrimsonIDTokenschip-nobkgrd

Are you trying to convert your offline donors to online? Do you want to simplify your donation forms and make it easier for donors to give?

A new feature from Crimson and WidgetMakr helps streamline the online giving process for your donors.

Crimson now assigns an ID token to every contact record stored on the platform. This ID token, which is unique for every person, can be added to widgets as a URL parameter that will automatically fill in all of the fields in WidgetMakr with the data available in Crimson for that donor.

When your WidgetMakr widget is combined with the Crimson ID token, payment information is all your donors need to enter.

How do Crimson ID tokens work?

After exporting a file from People Search in Crimson, you’ll notice a new column – named IDToken – at the very end of your CSV file.

This ID token is similar to mail merge technology used in direct mail. When it is added to the donation link through a URL parameter, the token will pre-populate fields such as name, address and phone number.

The Crimson ID Tokens are a great way to take the data you have for your offline donors and apply it to online giving or encourage a recurring gift program.

Crimson ID Tokens + Spark Giving Matrix            

If you have giving history for donors saved in Crimson – and the Spark Giving Matrix is enabled on your widget – the widget will automatically customize giving levels for your donor when the Crimson ID token is added to the donation link. This means that you won’t be asking a small dollar for a $1,000 gift nor leave out donations by asking major donors for too little.

Want to learn more?

Read the new guide on Crimson ID tokens for help on using this feature in WidgetMakr. You can also visit our WidgetMakr blog for more information on how to use URL parameters.

How to Allocate Surplus Campaign Funds

Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 in FEC, The Blog | 0 comments

How to Allocate Surplus Campaign Funds

State primaries are currently taking place across the country.  Unfortunately, after every election, many committees must end their efforts.  However, before terminating, campaign committees must “wind down.” The campaign infrastructure, which took months or years to build, cannot be dismantled overnight. Campaigns must pay off debt, sell assets and compensate the staff responsible for the wind down process, which includes compliance activities in accordance with FEC regulations. Usually, campaigns are left with few remaining resources. Occasionally, however, former candidates face an unusual dilemma. After losing an election, how does a campaign committee allocate surplus funds?

According to the FEC, former candidates must follow certain guidelines. The FEC explicitly states that surplus campaign funds CANNOT be used to cover candidates’ personal expenses.  However, a federal campaign committee may:

  • Contribute to other federal campaign committees or PACs in accordance with normal contribution limits
  • Donate to state and local candidates pursuant to state guidelines
  • Make unlimited contributions to national, state or local party committees
  • Contribute funds to qualifying charitable organizations
  • Convert the campaign committee into a multi-candidate committee

During the primary election, some candidates may also receive contributions designated for the general election. If the candidate loses the primary, these funds are not considered “permissible campaign funds” by the FEC and, thus, are subject to different guidelines. Campaign committees should consider the following options:

  • If the candidate plans to seek office again, the campaign may contact donors and ask for permission to re-designate the funds to another campaign committee that belongs to the same candidate.
  • If donors do not agree to re-designate the funds, the committee must refund the contributions.
  • If the campaign is unable to refund the contributions, it must turn over the remaining funds to the U.S. Treasury

Every election cycle, whether they win or lose, candidates must eventually terminate their committees. Candidates should be prepared to dispose of surplus funds in a manner that is consistent with FEC regulations and that continues to further the causes shared by candidates and their supporters.

For more information on winding down a federal campaign, see the FEC candidate guide and FAQ on campaign wind down.

 

This article was posted for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

Are You Missing Donations at Events?

Posted by on Jun 22, 2016 in The Blog | 0 comments

Are You Missing Donations at Events?

If you aren’t using the CrimsonMobile app + card reader, you aren’t maximizing your event fundraising.

All you need to do is download the CrimsonMobile app from the Google Play store and then request your complimentary card readers by clicking on the button below.

 
 

Capture Crowd Enthusiasm

Take advantage of crowd enthusiasm by swiping for small-dollar donations when volunteers are deployed with the CrimsonMobile app + card readers on their Android smartphone.

Make it easier to donate

Streamline the donation process for major donors to use credit cards over checks and eliminate the need to stand in long lines or mail in a form after the event.

 
 

Capture required information

Reduce the need for follow-up or "best efforts" letters by capturing all of the information required by the FEC or your state through the CrimsonMobile app.

Automatically Sync with Crimson

There's no need to import donations processed through CrimsonMobile because the app seamlessly syncs with your Crimson account.

Every full-service Crimson account is eligible to use two free* card readers. Make sure you request yours before the next campaign event arrives.

If you have any questions, please contact us at sales@cmdi.com or check out the CrimsonMobile Facts page.

Feature of the Month: Push Notifications on Crimson

Posted by on Jun 16, 2016 in Crimson v2, CrimsonMobile, Feature of the Month, The Blog | 0 comments

Feature of the Month: Push Notifications on Crimson

Crimson Feature of the Month

 

It’s now easier to keep up with your tasks and updates in Crimson when you enable push notifications on either your email or smartphone.

When push notifications are turned on, Crimson will send a notification to your smartphone as well as your desktop through your Crimson account whenever a task is added, updated, or completed.

Follow the directions below to enable push notifications from Crimson:

1. Download the app in either the iTunes App Store or Google Play.

2. From your Crimson dashboard, click on the Account link at the top of the page.

Feature of the Month: CrimsonMobile Push Notifications

3. Your accounts settings will appear as a pop-up window labeled My Account.

Feature of the Month: CrimsonMobile Push Notifications

4. Under Password/Access, click on the checkboxes next to Email Notifications and Mobile Notifications to enable one or both of them.

PushNotifications_check

5. Click on the Save button at the bottom of the screen.

Crimson Webinars in June

Posted by on Jun 2, 2016 in Crimson v2, The Blog, Webinars | 0 comments

Crimson Webinars in June

RSVP to join our latest monthly Crimson Webinars, hosted by our Senior Support Staff next Wednesday, June 8! Choose to attend one of the following sessions:

Crimson General Overview on Wednesday, June 8 at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. EDT

  • A general overview: People Search, Data Entry, Reports, and more
  • Newest features: Recalculate Dashboard button, Employer/Occupation Standardization, and People Search – ending COH filters

Please RSVP to receive your calendar invite and webinar information.

Crimson Webinar on June 8, 2016

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