Taking donations via your URJ Web website – Part 2

Joomla!In the last installation, you were introduced to Joomla’s Payment Form Component and how to configure it to accept online donations on your congregation’s website.  It’s relatively easy with the instructions I provided.

In that article, I briefly mentioned there are  three Components to be used for online payment functionality:

  1. Payment Form (by Ossolution Team) [does not support Campaigns]
  2. Joom Donation (by Ossolution Team) [similar functionality as Payment Form, but has extended functionality for Campaigns]
  3. RS Forms Pro (by RSJoomla) [fully customizable, requires creating from scratch and having URJ Admin install the PayPal Plug-In if you’re using PayPal),

Payment Form was covered in the last installation, so now let’s look at Joom Donation.

Do you need to manage donations by Giving Campaigns?

If no, then you can skip this article and use the Payment Form Component.  If you do, then Joom Donation is the Component for you.  Here is a diagram showing the intersections of functionality between those two Components


Things to Know

  1. The default layout of the form (order of fields and heading text, etc.) has some inconsistencies in sentence case and grouping of fields, of which you have no control without access to the PHP.  The developer’s native language is not English and it is obvious by some of the typos in the default form, which you will have to fix.
  2. Custom fields can be ordered to your choosing.

Taking donations via your URJ Web website – Part 1


As of this writing there are three Components available inside the Joomla! installation provided by URJ Web,  used to stand up an online donation feature on your website.  The features intersect and overlap, making it a challenge to figure out which meets best meets your needs.

Note: Capitalized words represent terms within the Joomla! lexicon
Intended Audience:  Beginning Joomla! Administrators

Step 1 – How Do I Get Started?

Start Simple.  Start with Payment Form.  You can get fancy later if there is a need for Campaign fund management or any other of its minor features.

From the button bar in the Admin module, click Components, then select Payment Form.  The Payments management Component opens.  The fact that the name in the heading doesn’t match the name on the Menu Item is just a little hit of the frustration to come.

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Step 2 – The Configuration Tab

The Configuration Tab has two sub-tabs; General and Messages.

  • General – Not much here you need to change.  I left it as-is.
  • Messages – This is where you enter the text for emails sent at the close of the transaction loop, as well as text which appears on the UI!!  That second part wasn’t readily obvious until I studied it for awhile.   Read the descriptions to the right of the text editing areas carefully.  This will tell you whether the text is for an email or whether it’s displayed on your website’s UI.  This is a really poor design in my humble opinion.  There should have been one tab for “email text” and one for “website text.”  Other than that rid-bit, the rest on the page is self-explanatory.
    • Tip: Form Message is a key one since it’s the text that appears on your donation page right above the payment information.

Step 3 – The Fields management Tab

I’m going out of order here because the fields have to be created before you create the Form.  Again, not a real bright design of the Payment Form Component.  I think the Fields tab should appear before Forms.  Anyway …

This is where you define the fields to appear on the form.  A few notes:

  • Name – name of the field in the backend.  Don’t change this!!!
  • Title – what the user sees on the website.   You can change this.  I changed Address2 to “Address Line 2”.
  • Notice the Show Core Fields in the upper right corner.  That was initially perplexing, but then I realized there were “core” fields to appear on every form.  Anything else you add are categorized as “Custom.”    ** This is also an intersection with Joom Donation.  The two Components share the same Core Fields.  I added one customer field named “Fund.”  I defined it as a drop-down list and included all the Funds in our congregation.  This allows the user to specify which Fund should receive their donation

Step 4 – The Forms management Tab

Now you can move on to the actual Form.  Lots of work goes in this area.  This is where you actually set up your donation form.

To create a new form

  1. From the right toolbar, click the orange New button.  The Form is comprised of three configuration areas:
    1. Basic Information – The Title field is the only one I changed on this tab and it is key!!  The Title of the form is included in the payment details at the end of the transaction.  If you want to create different forms for different types of donations, then giving each a recognizable name will help in the congregation operations area.
    2. Messages – These are the same Messages you saw when you were on the Configuration > Messages tab.  You can leave all of these blank if the new form can utilize the same messages as the global configuration.
    3. Fields Setting – Here you set the order the fields are displayed to the user.   Any custom fields you created in Step 3 will appear here as well.

Step 5 – Configuring PayPal

This is s0 easy I had to stop and rethink it a couple of times, thinking I must be missing something.  It’s true; it’s really easy.  All you need is the email address associated with the PayPal account into which the funds will be transferred.

  1. Click the Payment Plugins tab.  Notice there are four payment methods by default.  You can add any that are unique to your organization.  I will only discuss PayPal and Offline Payment


  1. Be sure the item is “Published” as indicated by its green check.
  2. Click the os_paypal name.
  3. On the right side of the screen is the Plugins Parameters section.  Enter the email associated with the PayPal account into which the funds should be transferred.
  4. When you’re ready to “go live”, change the Paypal Mode to “Live Mode.”  That’s all there is to it!!!!

Offline Payments

Nothing to do here, just be sure it’s turned on if you want users to be able to fill out the form and mail in the money later.

Step 6 – Set Up a “Payment Form” Menu Type

  1. On the Menu where you want your donation form to appear, create a new Menu Item.
  2. Click the Select button and in the pmform section, select Payment Form.
  3. On the right side, select the form you just created.

You’re done!!!!

In the next installation, I build on this information and explain Joom Donation.  For now, another Margarita, please!  And here’s a look at our congregation’s first online donation capability!!!

In a Nutshell ….

  • If you don’t need to manage donations by Giving Campaign, like a campaign to erect a new sanctuary, then use the Payment Form Component to implement online donation capabilities.  It’s the simplest and the most robust.
  • Payment Form has a set of “core” fields to which you can add “custom” fields.
  • Set up your fields first, then set up your form.
  • Set up PayPal simply by providing your congregation’s PayPal email address.
  • And finally, create a Menu Item of the “Payment Form” type and select the form you create.

“I Wish I Had Known That About Joomla!” – Don’t overlook the Tooltips!

Joomla!I have spent many maddening hours trying to figure out why something wasn’t working.  Here’s a great example:

Scenario:  I wanted an Articles Category to display all articles within the “Learning” category.  I spent at least an hour on this Module configuration page trying to figure out why it would only display 1 Article.   Notice that Count field set to 0.  And notice how it is visually “grouped” with Featured Articles by virtue of the horizontal rule below it.  Given the way my brain thinks, I was setting that value to 1 and thinking that meant to show “1” Featured Article.

Oh, NOT SO!!!!  Thankfully, I saved the rest of my afternoon by recognizing when I had had enough and asking for a fresh perspective from my IT husband.  We hovered over the tooltip for that field and discovered that value controlled the number of articles to display!!!  With a value of 1, I was only getting 1.

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RTFM – Yes, the tooltips are the electronic version of a manual

Never under estimate the value of the manual.  In today’s world, that equates to the Tooltips.  Always hover over the field names to get a tooltip explaining what it does.    Had I don’t this earlier, I would have known the fact that my setting it to 1 was causing the problem!!!!

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“I Wish I Had Known That About Joomla!” – Understanding Role-Based Access and ACLs

Intended Audience: Beginning Joomla! Administrators

Nouns and Definitions

  • User – An entity who will interact with your site.
    • Rule:  A user can belong to one or more User Groups.
    • Configured in Users > User Manager > Users.
    • Important attributes:
      • Name – The name that will appear on the site as the author of content.  Whether or not it shows is set in each piece of content.
      • Login Name – The name the user will use when entering their credentials to log in the site.
      • Email – Rule:  Cannot be associated with any other user on the site.
      • Assigned User Groups – select one or many.
  • User Group – Controls what a user can do on the site.  A User Group has specific Permissions.
    • Rules:
      • A User Group can be assigned to one or more Access Levels.
      • A User group is assigned to one or more Actions which represent their Permissions.
      • Could there be a scenario where you have Permissions, but not the Access Level to “see” what you have permissions to act on?
    • Set Permissions in User Manager > Options from top right button bar > Permissions tab.
    • Note: When adding a new group, be sure to edit the Access Levels.
  • Permissions – rights to perform certain actions on a site; either Allowed or Not Allowed
    • Configure Permissions in User Manager > Options from top right button bar > Permissions tab.
  • Actions on which Permissions are set:
    • Site Login – can login to frontend
    • Admin Login – can login to backend
    • Offline Access – can access to site when site is offline
    • Super Admin – access to do anything, regardless of other permissions
    • Access Administration Interface –  allows users access to backend, except global configuration
    • Create – can create content in any extension
    • Delete – can delete content in any extension
    • Edit – can edit content in any extension
    • Edit State – can edit state (Published|Unpublished) of content in any extension
  • Access Level – control which users can view which objects on your site, to include: menu items, modules, categories, and component items (articles, contacts, etc.).
    • Rules:
      • Each object on the site is assigned to one access level.
      • User groups are also assigned to each access level.
    • Important Attributes:
      • Level Title – what you enter here is what you see from the “Access” drop-down in objects like menu items, modules, etc.

Registering as a New User

The ability to register as a new user and set what their default role will be is controlled as a global setting under User Manager > Options from the top right button bar.

Access Levels


Example Implementation

Congregation Or Ami in Richmond, VA has two blogs using Zoo blog; one for our Rabbi and one for our President.  There is a landing page for each as follows:

  1. http://or-ami.com/about-us/our-rabbi/blog-rabbi
    1. This is a “Zoo Front Page” Menu Item Type with Access Level set to Public so everyone can see it.
  2. http://or-ami.com/about-us/leadership/our-president
    1. This is a “Zoo Front Page” Menu Item Type with Access Level set to Public so everyone can see it.

The Rabbi is the only one who can see the “Rabbi – Create Blog Entry” menu item displayed one level below her landing page.    She creates Articles and assigns them to the Rabbi category.

“I Wish I Had Known That About Joomla!” – Articles Category vs. Menus

Intended Audience: Beginning Joomla! Administrators


An Articles Category module and a Menu achieve similar results, a list of clickable items displayed in a specific position on your Website’s page.

When standing up the Or-Ami website, we started off creating sub-menus with the perspective of using the main menu along the top as a top-level category of information so-to-speak, and sub-menus the next level of grouping. This becomes a challenge when you’re content at the 2nd level often changes.  If that is your scenario, then an Articles Category is better suited for the task.

Here are some things to consider when deciding between an Articles Category and a Menu.

  1. Do your clickable items on the menu change often?  If yes, then choose an Articles Category module item to display your menu.
  2. Will your article titles make good menu item labels?  If yes, then choose an Articles Category module; otherwise create a Menu.
  3. If you want to include *all* articles within a category on your menu, then choose an Articles Category module; otherwise if only some articles within a category are to be listed, create a Menu with Menu Items to the specific articles you want to include.

I’m a bad, bad learner … a story from the Joomla! trenches

Joomla!  I am merciless with myself when it comes to learning.  If I can’t get it quickly, I get frustrated and impatience shamelessly follows.  Once I have come out the other side of pain and frustration, I often think, “geez, had I only known that out of the gate, things would have been a lot easier.”

Joomla! has a bit of a learning curve, so it’s in this context that I offer a series of “wish I had known that” articles to help the beginning Joomla! Administrator climb the learning curve.  Hopefully, these tips will help you gently make the transition from novice to skilled Joomla! Administrator.