All websites serve a function, but sometimes that function is extremely specific. In the case of The General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church (GCFA), the organization needed a website that could seamlessly generate tax exemption letters as part of the group tax exemption ruling for The United Methodist Church. The new website, www.umgroupruling.org, does just that.
"Our old website was all-around outdated – visually and functionally – so we needed a system that is more reliable, easier to maintain, with better functionality,"
says Judy Johnson, risk management and legal services specialist at GCFA.
"We also wanted to make sure our website was integrated with another database function we already used with Brick River."
GCFA has been working with Brick River to build Chronicles, its new database, and the connected AC Stats portal. Integration into this environment was essential for keeping all of the relevant information in one place. The new group ruling website needed to query this database, pull data from outside sources, and deliver results on-demand, so United Methodist organizations and local churches can receive their certificate of inclusion letters instantly.
How it Works
1. Orgs enter their EIN
To start the process, organizations seeking a letter enter their EIN and select what type of organization they represent. Then, users search for their organization, which queries the Chronicles database for the organization's information and populates it in a subsequent screen.
2. Proof their info
At this juncture, organizations have an opportunity to request updates to their related information, which sends it directly to be reviewed and updated in Chronicles. During this step, organizations can opt-into listing their organization on GuideStar and adding it to the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File.
3. Boom, get a PDF letter
If the information displayed is correct, and no changes are needed, users are immediately shown their letter as a PDF, which can be printed, downloaded, or emailed. The flow varies a little based on the type of organization, there are a few extra questions in some cases, but generally the process is the same.
4. Bonus points: integration into IRS data
Additionally, the site integrates with the IRS to pull its data for verification, and in some cases, the form gets automatically faxed to the IRS.
"We’re really excited about the way organizations can request changes to their name and address directly on the application form, the automatic faxing capability, and the way that it is integrated in GCFA’s master system, Chronicles, and how smooth the back is for us to administer,"
On top of the core, letter-generating function, the site offers answers to the most common group-ruling questions and links up to tax-related resources.
"[Paul and Steve at Brick River] took the time to understand our processes so that they could create a system that not only worked but went above and beyond our expectations.They were always responsive to questions and requests and listened to our input and concerns throughout. They made sure the product was exactly what we requested and were thoughtful about making suggestions for a better user experience."