Donations and Stewardship FAQ

Q1: How do I handle online donations when the credit card is declined?
When a non-recurring online donation is made and the transaction completes on the Portal with a "credit card declined" result, the congregant must be the one to resubmit it. There is no impact to MinistryPlatform.
 
Q2: All of a sudden many donations seem to be assigned to the same person! Why is this happening and how do I fix it?
In MinistryPlatform, there are a few default records that should never be edited as they are the "catch-all" records. For example, any Donation made via the Portal that doesn't match a Contact in the database is assigned to the Default donor record and the Default Contact record defined in the church's configuration file. Your best approach for investigating how it happened is to check the Audit Log on the record that has all the Donations. Most likely you will see that a user changed the Default donor record from the Default Contact and onto a real person (the name you're seeing everywhere).
 
The first step to correcting this is to revert this Default donor record to the correct name so you can tell which donations are assigned to the default contact. Following that change, you can have your staff assign donors to donations via the Batch Manager Tool or the Assign Donor tool.
 
Q3: Can I correct the Program that a specific Donation was distributed to in such a manner that the change does not appear on the Donor's statement?
If your security rights allow you to do this you can technically do this by editing the Donation Distribution records of the Donation record which you access from the Donations page in MinistryPlatform.  However, this is a violation of our recommended approach to correcting entries with an accounting consequence. Here is what we recommend:
  1. If your change has an accounting consequence, then it is best for you to make an adjusting entry even if the donor sees this.
  2. If your change has no accounting consequence, then it is fine to carefully edit the Donation or Donation Distribution record.
Here is how to categorize issues:
  • Any change that affects the amounts of a Donation has an accounting consequence. Make an adjusting entry.
  • Any change that affects the Program(s) to which the Donation was distributed (Donation Distribution record) or the allocation of that distribution has an accounting consequence. Make an adjustment.
  • A change that affects the Event (project) to which a Donation was distributed (Donation Distribution record) may have an accounting consequence. 
  • Other changes are less likely to have an accounting consequence. These include making a note or crediting a pledge.
Now, it is entirely up to your church whether it is acceptable to edit the Donation Distribution(s) of a Donation whose Batch has been finalized and the deposit exported. Technically, if your security rights allow it, you can change the Program of any Distribution manually. This fixes the problem on the Donor statement. You could then go and make an adjusting entry in your accounting system. It's not up to Think Ministry Inc. to prevent you from doing this or to help you in this effort. We can warn you that the odds of a mistake or of the sub-ledger getting out of sync with your General Ledger is higher if you take this kind of an approach.
 
Q4: How do I find a missing Donation in an automatic recurring billing (ARB) or recurring gift Donation?
Perform a search using the ARB subscription code. This code is in the Online Donation Information section on the main page of a Donation if it was made online and set up as a recurring gift. Locate one Donation in the series, copy the subscription code, then paste it into the search box on the Donations data grid. This finds every item in the subscription, regardless of what other data about the Donations might have changed, making them harder to find with normal searching methods like date or name.
 
Q5: A Donation recorded against a Donor record and the corresponding amount shows on a statement and the amount should not show (gift of property/stock, non-cash asset).
Donation amounts don't show if the Donation is marked as non-cash or if the Donation is distributed to a Program that is Tax Deductible=False. The exception is if the Accounting Company record is set to List Non-Cash Gifts=True.
 
Q6: A Donation does not appear on a contribution statement and it should.
Research is needed to determine what may be the cause. Is it assigned to the correct Donor? Is it in a Batch? Is that Batch finalized? Does the Donation record have Distribution records? Is the Donation Date within the time frame of the statement? Is the Donation a non-cash/asset donation? Is your Accounting Company set to list non-cash gifts? Is it distributed to a Program that is not tax deductible? If the Donation appears on printed statement reports, but not on the Portal's Contribution Statement then check that the "Statement Cutoff Date" field is earlier than your current Online Giving Through date value in your Accounting Company record.
 
Q7: How can we set up a special offering, which will be temporary, and prohibit anyone from using a recurring gift to donate?
It is possible to use Mission Trip Giving in this way. Mission Trip Giving has been used by churches as special projects giving tool in this manner. This is why the label on that page says Trip/Project.
 
Q8: Why when I look at a Donation in a processed Batch, processed is set to No (or false).
The Processed field (in the Online Donation Information section) is part of the gateway response information for online giving. You may ignore this field. It would most likely say No if the item was part of a series of expected recurring donations (a subscription code) and the Platform simply does not know if it processed or not.
 
Q9: A credit card transaction was declined and we mistakenly added the Donation to a deposited Batch.  How do we remove that donation from the Batch?
If your staff elected to add an item to a Batch/Deposit that didn't process at Auth.net, then this would lead to a review of your process. Determine if your process is checking Auth.net to verify that items in a Batch had been a part of a settlement. Now, if someone did, in fact, add a donation to a batch and that donation was subsequently discovered to "not have processed" then you have to decide how you want to fix it:
Option 1:  Delete the donation and distribution.
Option 2:  Treat it like an NSF Donation and reverse it then batch the reversing entry and record it in your accounting system.
If you take option 1, then you might need to edit the Batch Total and Deposit Total amounts.  You also have to decide what to do with respect to your accounting system.  Depending upon your internal processes, you may need to make an adjustment to your accounting system to reflect the mistake there.  If you took Option 1,  Remember that subscriptions "Automated Recurring Billing" entries can be canceled by your team if they impersonate the donor on the portal. Click here to learn more about changing ARB subscriptions. 
 
Q10: I have mistakenly deleted some future Donations in the platform. How can I get those back?
The only solution is to have these records restored from a backup, which incurs a cost. A SPoC can contact Support to work with Professional Services.
 
Q11: Is it possible to use HTML in the statement footer on the Accounting Companies page to control how the formatting looks on the My Contributions Statement PDF?
The statement footer WILL accept basic HTML tags (like <br/> for a return) but it won't accept formatting (like centering, etc.). 
 
Q12: Is there a way to change the Program on a subscription?
Yes, you can locate and select future instances of the subscription on the Donation Distributions with a view, then use the Assign tool to carefully change their Program.
 
Q13: What does the Processed field do on a person's Donation record?
The field '"does" nothing, and it's only set once, in the beginning. If it's a single transaction and it's successfully processed, it is set to true/yes/successful. If it's for a recurring gift and the card is successfully processed to get things set up, when the records are all created for the rest of the ARB all the processed fields are set to False.  The contributions department would need to check each Donation in the occurrence to see if it went through. The Auth.net and MinistryPlatform systems never talk again or compare notes after the original transaction (unless the user cancels a recurring gift, in which case they do talk one more time and a cancel on the portal cancels in a.net as well).
 
Q14: We imported a Batch into the BMT, but the Donation is not being matched to the Donor.  Why is this?
If you are importing from a source other than RemitPlus, you should assign the MinistryPlatform Contact ID to any new Donor record in the 3rd party system so it can be matched during import.  When importing from any source, Donors might not be matched due to multiple donor records matching the account/routing information. In this case, after importing, you should click Match Donors. This identifies any Donations that match multiple Donors.
 
Q15: How should we handle a single, declined gift which is part of a recurring gift?
If you are comfortable that it was a one time issue and that the remaining recurring gifts will not also decline, then you would treat it like an NSF correctionIf a recurring donation is declined (for a reason that will continue to be a problem in the future), you should follow these instructions.
 
Q16: We ran the Pledge Statement Selected report from the Donors page and selected "Combine Family" but can only see Donations for one of the family members.  How can we see Donations for all family members?
The Pledge Statement Selected report parameter of "Combine Family" only includes donation detail for the family if all family members are in the selection.
 
Q17: Is there a way to see a note on a Donation?
This could be accomplished by creating a custom view on the Donations page that filters for the Notes field so you can see the notes all together in the data grid.
 
Q18: How can I adjust a Donation to allocate it to two Distributions instead of just one?
  1. On Stewardship > Donations, open the Donation record.
  2. On the Distribution sub-page, click New.
  3. Add the details for the distribution.
  4. Click Save.
  5. Open the other distribution.
  6. Click Edit.
  7. Edit to the correct amount (and Program if needed).
  8. Click Save.
  9. Double check that the Donation detail and the Distributions are in balance.
Q19: Can a Donor view either their Donor ID or Contact ID on their account on the Portal?
The Contact ID and Donor ID numbers are only visible in the Platform. If you need to communicate an identifying number with a Donor, such as a Contact ID or envelope number, this could be done by sending the Donor a message using the New Message tool and merging the desired fields into the message.
 
Q20: One of our donors accidentally gave a one-time gift for more than they intended.  How do we record a partial refund?
You can handle an overpayment refund with either of these methods:
Using the Batch Manager Tool:
  • Create a negative Batch for the refund(s).
  • Process as a typical manual entry batch, but using negative amounts.
  • Tip: Adding clear memos/notes for these entries is helpful for looking back in the future.
Using the Copy Selected Donation Actionable Report:
  • Use the report to copy the Donation(s) that need to be partially refunded.
  • Change the amount to negative, and also adjust the amounts to the proper portion to be refunded.
  • Tip: Don't forget to change the amount for the Donation and the Distributions so everything stays in balance.
Note: This will just to get your records adjusted and correct in MinistryPlatform. It will not actually send/generate a refund. That must be done directly from Auth.net or manually through your accounting procedures.
 
Q21: Can our donations and registrations go through one Auth.Net account rather than two? What are the pros and cons of that approach?
Technically you can point both configuration settings at the same Auth.net account. But practically, doing this wouldn't be a wise approach. Consider that Payments and Donations as separate sub-ledgers to your general ledger.  As such, each sub ledger transmits data to the accounting system separately. There is not now, nor will there ever by, consolidated reporting and transmission of this data across these two sub-ledgers. The data is kept separate in MinistryPlatform and that is not something that will change in our software. We want payments and donations to be in separate database tables.
 
Now, the consequence of having one Auth.net gateway would be that you would have deposits which would contain some payments and some donations on your bank account.  This would mean that reconciling one deposit on your bank statement could/would involve multiple credits to cash in your accounting system.
 
Q22: A Donor set up two recurring gifts at the same time; however, their gifts are being charged to their account via two different transactions (rather than one). Is the system working as expected? 
Yes, all online giving works this way, as the payment processor treats each as a separate recurring donation. This allows users to cancel/edit one gift without canceling/editing all gifts. When users log into the Portal, the My Giving page matches the charges made on their credit card/bank statement (in this case, two recurring gifts on My Giving and two charges on their credit card/bank statement).
 
Q23: I'd like to report on Households that give once a month, once a quarter and once a year to a particular Statement Header. What do you suggest?
The Selected Household Donations report has a monthly/quarterly/annual chart of giving. Another approach would be to export qualifying Donation Distributions from a view and create a Pivot Table in Excel.
 
Q24: We have a Pledge Campaign associated with the wrong Program, but it's not letting us change it. What now?
The field might not be allowing you to edit due to Security Role restrictions. Check to make sure you have appropriate rights, and that there isn't Field Level security on the desired field. Once you're able to edit the field, you can find and correct other mismatched pledges by creating a view on the Pledges page that shows gifts for this Pledge Campaign that still show the erroneous Program.
 
Q25: I've created a view on the Deposits page, and included the Date Created value. Why are there null values in the Date Created field of some Deposits?
The system is working as expected. The Date Created field is related to the Audit Log, and so the Deposit records in your view with null Date Created values have no "created" Audit Log entry. The "created" entry in the Audit Log is dependent on how the record was created: if a record is created by a report or other source outside of our API then there will be no "created" entry in the Audit Log.
 
Q26: One of my batches was missing a check, so I pulled the batch detail and saw a check with an incorrect date. How do I correct this?
Since the Donation is correctly in the Batch but just has the wrong date, you can simply go to the Donation record, click Edit, change the date and click Save.
 
Q27: Can I prevent certain Donation types (payment types) from showing up on Donor statements?
Yes, to omit certain Payment Types (like non-cash) from showing go to the Payment Type record and set Omit Amount On Statement Field = True. This will exclude this type of Payment on all standard Platform and Portal Contribution Statements.
 
Q28: My bank reconciliation shows an online Donation transacted in Auth.net but is not in MP. What do I do?
First, do a thorough search on the Donations page to ensure that the Donation is missing. Check your views, search various ways, assign Default Contact to real Donors, etc. If you are still not able to locate the Donation record, it is possible that there was an error or other issues during the transaction that prevented the record from being created in MP. Most errors are reported to Support automatically and passed on to you. Please report missing records to Support detailing the date, time, records affected, how you discovered it, etc. Also, including details on what the end user experienced is very helpful. You can manually create the missing Donation in the Platform or in the BMT. The best way to catch these missing donations is to regularly reconcile MP with Auth.net. Batching from Authorize.net and eCheck Reconciliation in Authorize.net provide insight on how to reconcile. Don't forget to reconcile your bank account to your general ledger as well!
 
Q29: We have a donation which has already been processed with no distributions assigned.  How do we add one?
In general, start by opening the donation record in the Platform.  Click New on the Distribution sub-page. Then, enter the Amount and the Program.  Click Save.
 
Q30: What are the ways of handling donations of a deceased spouse?
There are a few ways this can be done:
  • Reassign the donations to the living spouse.
  • Leave the deceased spouse in the household and using a Statement Type of Family.
  • Include a separate statement for the deceased spouse.
Q31: How can I record a donation in which part was a quid pro quo amount that needs to be deducted and not shown on the statement?
One way in which to record this:
  • Record the donation with two distributions records:
    • The first distribution can be the amount that was the actual donation that is tax-deductible.
    • The second distribution can be a "non-cash" donation type with a note added to the donor with the IRS language your organization uses about the non-tax-deductable portion of this donation.
  • The non-cash donation amount will appear as "0" on the donor statement and depending on the note will show on those Donor Statement types that display notes.
Q32: How can I record Payroll Deductions?
If you do not want these donations to be exported to the accounting system, follow the steps below. Once you have created the Batch once, you may choose to use the Copy Batch Tool to reproduce this batch for every payroll:

Q33: Why does my record have the Donation sub-page, but when copying, I am not able to copy that sub-page?
When copying a Donation directly, the Donation Distribution sub-page is available to Copy. However, the Display Copy field is set to false by default on the Donation and Donation Distribution sub-pages so that when a Parent page (e.g. Event, Batch, Program, etc.) is being copied (for some reason) the creation of duplicate Donation records is prevented. This value should only be changed by a SPoC with full understanding of the possible consequences of Donation records being duplicated erroneously. Donations legitimately needing to be copied should leverage the Copy Batch Tool or the Copy Selected Donations report

Q34: How do I handle out of balance batches imported from our legacy system?
Depending on what details were available for these batches/ donations in your previous system, the out of balances might have been a necessary result of your data migration.
If desired, you could try and go back and do the research in your GL to clean up each batch. You would want to be extremely careful and extremely confident in any changes made.We strongly recommend reviewing the Batches to ensure that no data will be lost as well as reconciling the Batch and related Donation totals to your GL (both before and after any edits).

  1. Open the Batch
  2. Jump to the Deposit
  3. Find the Deposit in the financial system
  4. Confirm deposit total and count match
  5. Review to confirm that adjusting the donation amount/ batch total/ or distribution in MP won't require changes in the financial system
  6. If not, manually make the change
  7. If so, manually make the change AND make a corresponding JE in the financial system
  8. When done, review both systems again to confirm everything is in balance

Q35: How to I change a  Payment into a Donation?
When Events cancel, or Registrants are no longer able to attend, some Registrants may request that their Payments be considered Donations. See Converting Payment into a Donation for steps to do this.

 
 

Last Modified: 4/16/2020

Did this article help?
× Thank You for the Feedback