Campaign Treasurer

SQL-Ledger Installation has been Restored

In early October we restored SQL-Ledger by installing the upgraded version 2.4.19. We are also watching the development of SMBLedger, a fork of the original project which has attracted a small but active base of developers.

Dealing with Paypal's Due Diligence Letter

A couple times a year, we get calls from folks who have received a letter signed by the 'PayPal Compliance Department', and a subject line warning: 'Your PayPal Account: Action Required', with details on contacting their 'Resolution Center' with correspondence reading: ATTN: Compliance: Due Diligence.

I'm not sure if PayPal only audits a representative sampling, or if most of our clients work this out without my intervention. But here is what this is about.

. . .

So when an individual seeks to do business with them under a fictitious name, a dba/, or corporate name, a trademark, or for CampaignFoundations.com clients, as an organization or a political campaign committee, PayPal wants to know that the treasurer is authorized to act on behalf of this fictitiously named organization.

SQL-Ledger Accounting System for Campaigns and Organizations

At Campaign Foundations, we host SQL-Ledger Accounting which we are customizing to provide candidates and organizations the GAAP compliant accounting application their treasurer needs, accessible from any web browser. Our accounting application is hosted on one of our encrypted server to protect the privacy of your passwords and your accounting data. As it says on their website:

"SQL-Ledger is a double entry accounting system. Accounting data is stored in a SQL database server, for the display any text or GUI browser can be used. The entire system is linked through a chart of accounts.

A Foundation of Support for your Campaign Treasurer

Whether you've got a CPA from the biggest firm in town on retainer by your campaign, or you've got the candidate's high school buddy who didn't know what they were getting into when they agreed to help, the treasurer of your campaign has an important role to play in support of your efforts.

Everyone in the campaign is now coming to your treasurer to sign the checks needed to keep the campaign moving forward. If they pay the printer now, will you have enough to pay for the production of the radio spot tomorrow? Is your fundraising supporting your campaign strategy? And what are all these reports about and how will you get them filed in time?

At Campaign Foundations, we know that part of building a solid foundation under a winning campaign is helping that campaign manage its limited resources. We won't be sitting down with you and your candidate to dial for dollars, but we can help you wire your website's donor forms to your campaign bank account. We can provide you the tools to track the receipts when they start rolling in. And we can help you complete the campaign finance reports and get them filed on time.

FEC Reporting Forms (pdf):
http://www.fec.gov/info/forms.shtml

Configure the Referral Engine for the Forms

The donation / subscription / volunteer forms provided by supporters.cgi are backed by a referral engine designed to make the data you collect on your website immediately available in usable forms by the people who need it.

supporters.cgi was written to build the Green Party and its lists in ways that will survive the close of the polls on election day. Campaigns come and go. But our county and state Parties survive to field the next candidate, to prosecute the next campaign. So that your campaign can make the maximum possible long range impact on your Party's ability to do this more effectively next cycle, we provide a means for you to invite your supporters to subscribe to your Party lists while you invite them to subscribe to your own campaign lists.

Configure Paypal to Pipe Contributions to your Campaign Account

If you don't already have a merchant account, and you don't anticipate doing the volume of donations which would make acquiring one cost-effective, you can still use CampaignFoundation.com's web forms to pipe online contributions directly into your campaign account by using paypal to process the credit and debit card contributions you raise on your site.

Create and log in to your paypal account.

Select the Merchant Tools tab at the top of the page.

Use our Demo Installation to Learn How Easy SQL-Ledger is to Use

Campaign Foundations offers SQL-Ledger as its Accounting System:

If you already have an account, you can login at:
https://ssl1.campaignfoundations.com/sql-ledger/login.pl

if you don't have an account, please check out the demonstration available at that link, by logging in with:

user id: cf_rlg-demo
user pw: cf_rlg-demo

SQL-Ledger Help

VERY IMPORTANT.
You must Update every transaction before you Post it. Failure to do so will prevent your new transaction from being committed permanently to the database. Some actions, like creating a new donor record offer only a Save option. But transactions with the books themselves must be first updated, then posted.

How to enter a contribution
How to enter a campaign expense
How to enter an in-kind contribution
How to generate your campaign finance report

Tracking Donors and their Contributions is Easy, Even for Periodic Donors

To enter a contribution, after logging in, use the menu on the left to choose: Contributions -> Contributors -> Add Contributor.

Complete as much of the form as is appropriate with the data you have available from the contributor. Then save this new contributor by choosing the "Contribution" button at the bottom. We have adapted the most mature and stable accounting system available to serve the needs of Green campaigns. Campaign Finance laws in most states require name, address, occupation and employer, as does the FEC for Federal races. You can safely ignore those parts of the form which don't seem relevant.

After the form refreshes, you should see the Add AR Transaction form. Enter the amount and date of the contribution, and choose an appropriate account to post this contribution to.

Then, under the payments section, enter the date the campaign received the contribution, perhaps a check number in the source field, the amount again and choose the account it is being deposited to.

Update the transaction. Wait for your browser to refresh, then Post it.

The buttons at the bottom should permit you to print a receipt if necessary, or to schedule a periodic pledge for future followup.

You can use the various possible reports to monitor the database for sucess, or use Contributions -> Reports -> Transactions. Make sure to check that you want to see closed transactions in the report.

If the contributor has pledged $50.00 per month from now until the election, using the Schedule button will give you an opportunity to tell the accounting system that, so it can remind you to go collect the next donation when the time comes. Use the recurring transactions link in the menu to inspect your record of future scheduled revenue for success.

Tracking Campaign Expenses and Obligations is Also a Breeze

It was a good week, flush from a round of initial fundraising, your campaign qualified its candidate, ordered its first batch of yardsigns and baught 20,000 door hangars for your volunteers.

Before we go any further, lets take a moment to ensure that the books are up to speed so we don't mistakenly further obligate funds we've already spent.

In the menu of SQL-Ledger, use the AP -> Vendors -> Add Vendor option to begin the process. Complete the form as best you can with the available information. Use the AP Transaction button to save your new vendor and to proceed to add your Accounts Payable transaction.

Make sure you choose the right vendor, add the amount, date and optionally description and notes. Then below the payments line add the date, amount and choose the account used to pay the obligation. You may optionally use the source and memo fields if you need to.

Now update. Wait for the browser to refresh. Now you are ready to post your transaction.

That's all there is to it.

Put Those Steps Together to Record an In-Kind Contribution

Last night's fundraiser went well. It was well attended and your base brought out some new faces you hadn't seen before. The band gave up the door to the campaign. You record that as a Common Pot contribution as permitted by your local campaign disclosure laws. You collected a dozen checks during the fundraising pitch. Those have been recorded according to the instructions above.

But how do you account for the $137.12 in groceries your boss' husband spent on catering the afternoon reception for the media?

An in-kind contribution has a dollar value. It is represented by a material gift that benefits the campaign. But no cash was collected by the campaign, nor disbursed by the treasurer. There is no petty cash expense to account for. So what do you do?

Its simple, just record it twice, both as a contribution from your Contributor, (your boss' husband) and then as a payment to a vendor (your boss' husband). Both times make sure you post the transaction against the In-kind contribution account.

Your books will balance, and pulling a report with the Reports -> Trial Balance option in the menu will permit you to drill down and see the details for all transactions in the In-Kind account or any other account you might care to look at.

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