Change "Contribution Received Date" to be "Contribution date" where is exists and basically sort this Contribution dates mess out once and for all
Ok... sorry if this comes across as a bit of a rant but as a qualified accountant this has been driving me crazy for years and I think we've been skirting around this issue for sometime. I wanted to put in a gitlab to start a discussion to allow us to sort this out once and for all.
CiviCRM has a core field on the contribution called "receive_date". This shows up on various screens and has led to significant debate about whether it should be a required field or not, and what it's real use case is. For example discussions below where debate has raged on how it should work:
So... there are a few problems with this field:
a) The idea of a "received date" is a bit meaningless (and confusing to users) when you have a pending contribution. You haven't quite received anything yet. b) The idea of a "received date" conflicts with the payments dates if you have multiple payments (or could even be made to be different from the payment date) again which is nonsensical.
I assume contribution received date was a field that pre-dated the CiviCRM accounting implementation and hence perhaps hasn't kept up with the reality of the situation. In any case I believe this is causing some real issues now and should be sorted out.
Note the field is used:
- As the date when initial accounting transactions are made. i.e. create a new pending contribution it will be the date of the Debit and Credits / transaction recorded in CiviCRM and hence by default it is the "revenue recognition date" for account purposes for the income.
This then leads to a multitude of other issues: a) If I "complete" a pending membership contribution for a new membership by recording a payment, what should the start date of the membership be? (see: #1402) b) We've then introduced another field called "revenue_recognition_date", which should actually be field 1 above - as that is when we are recognising the transactions. We shouldn't have another field for this. c) For some reason we now have a field on the invoice called "invoice date" which prints todays date which again is incorrect as it should be the same as item 1 above. The invoice should reflect the revenue recognition date. https://civicrm.stackexchange.com/questions/21128/how-do-i-print-the-received-date-on-an-invoice
The solution is relatively simple. We should change the "received_date" field to simply be the "Contribution date".
|Invoicing?||Contribution status||What the field means||Changes required to CiviCRM|
|Not using invoices||Pending||Represents the date the contribution was recorded on the system.||When later marking the contribution as completed give users the option to update the date or better still don't offer the option to complete a contribution and simply only allow users to enter the payment separately.|
|Not using invoices||Completed||Represents the date the contribution was recorded on the system but also record a payment on the same date.|
|Using invoices||Pending||Represents the date the invoice was recorded on the system and hence the invoice date and the revenue recognition date.||We should update the invoices to use this date as the invoice date. This field should not be updated when marking the invoice as complete (or better still don't offer the option to complete a contribution and simply only allow users to enter the payment separately.)|
|Using invoices||Completed||Represents the date the invoice was recorded on the system but also the date the payment for that invoice was received. Ideally we would split the invoice and payment sections from each other on the "create new" form.|
At some date in the future it would then be good to properly decouple payments from contributions and get rid of the terrible contribution status field once and for all.
Basically the contribution would reflect an order or invoice object, i.e. the obligation to pay for something. The payment transaction then would be separate and would represent the actual payment of that obligation. Accounting software has done this correctly for years so it's about time CiviCRM did too!
I'm sure you will all have opinions on this...