>> Features and Comparisons
Tools: CAMS and TRS - Features and Comparison
Conference Accounting Management
and Treasurer's Reporting System (TRS
two program tools available to SVP conferences to assist the
treasurer in accounting and record keeping.
What can the programs do?
Assistant 2001, the original Toronto Central Council
Access database system
Assistant Ver 2 replaced Treasurer's
Assistant 2001, in response to new CRA reporting
Accounting Management System) introduced to provide an
Excel spreadsheet bookkeeping alternative
Accounting Management System) Excel spreadsheet
||TRS (Treasurer's Reporting
System Ver 3) Access
database system replaced Treasurer's
Assistant Ver 2, in response
to new bookkeeping requirements from CRA, National Council, and Toronto
Both CAMS and TRS support many of the record keeping
tasks in the treasurer's domain, as
outlined in Treasurer's
and Society of
St. Vincent de Paul Treasurer's Reports
documents issued by Toronto Central Council:
Why are there two systems?
- producing conference Annual Financial Statements and
financial input to the CRA T3010 Registered
Charity Information Return
- issuing annual Income Tax receipts conforming to
CRA format and content requirements
- tracking conference revenues, disbursements and
financial balance and producing monthly financial
The initial bookkeeping offering, Treasurer's
was developed based on
Access database software. Because Access is not commonly available on
home computers the CAMS
on more widely available Excel spreadsheet software,
was developed in
which evolved to Treasurer's Reporting System (TRS
continued to be used by the original user base, while CAMS
adopted by the majority of conferences since its
Which system is easier to learn?
Both systems perform the same basic bookkeeping tasks and have a
similar learning curve. Experienced treasurers will
find the functions within each system fairly intuitive and both systems
provide extensive internal documentation on system usage.
computer skills and some familiarity with Excel or Access is helpful
but not essential. The CAMS system, which is based on the more available, cheaper
familiar Excel spreadsheet software, is chosen by most conferences
System design and operation
While TRS and CAMS perform the same functions, the design and user
interface are significantly different, due to the
underlying database and spreadsheet technologies involved with Access
and Excel respectively. You can get a view of the look and
feel of the two systems in the following;
overview of TRS click
overview of CAMS click
Are there any restrictions?
While both CAMS and TRS provide the same support to
treasurer's record keeping, there are restrictions that both systems
- your conference bookkeeping methods should align with the
practices outlined in Treasurer's
Duties guideline issued by Toronto Central Council,
employing Cash Method accounting / Single Entry bookkeeping
- your conference fiscal
year-end must be 31 December; other fiscal years are not
- both CAMS and TRS produce a summary income
i.e. one receipt encompassing all contributions for the donor
over the year (rather than donation-by-donation type
- CAMS and TRS do not support split-receipt formatting required by CRA for
fundraising events (i.e. where the fair market value of an
advantage received by the donor is displayed on the receipt along with
the net receipted donation amount)
tools are intended for simple conference operations as carried on by a
typical conference; in particular CAMS and TRS
support booking of
Revenues and Expenses to a fixed chart of accounts aligned to CRA and
Society reporting requirements, as follows:
||(4800) Advertising & Promotion
||(4810) Travel Expense
|(4510) Particular Council
||(4810) Vehicle Expense
Other Reg'd Charities
||(4820) Bank Charges
Poor Box Collections
||(4840) Office Supplies
||(4860) Professional & Consulting
||(4870) Education & Training
||(4890) Charitable Works
|(4630) Fund Raising
||(4890) Vouchers Paid to Particular Council
Sale of Goods & Services
||(4920) Sundry Expenses
||(5050) Particular Council
|(5050) National Council Twinning
|In addition, the
fair market value of
non-cash gifts such as receipted and transferred Gifts of Property are
recorded on the Income Statement as a revenue and an expenditure.
Thus if your conference
involve types of expense other than those above (for example, 4850 Occupancy
Costs, rent or mortgage
payments for conference premises) then CAMS and TRS will
not meet your needs.
CAMS is implemented as a
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, while TRS is implemented as
Access frontend / backend database structure; thus your
computer must have either Excel or Access
installed in order to use one of these systems.
(Excel and Access are two components of the Microsoft OfficeTM
of business productivity programs, along with Word,
Powerpoint, Outlook etc.)
• For Windows PCs Office 2000 or above
is required (i.e. Office 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 or
• On Macintosh computers, CAMS can run under Mac
2011 or 2016.
(TRS cannot run in native mode on Mac because
Access is not
available for Mac).
For more information on
Microsoft Office and SVP tools click
These systems have moderate resource requirements and can be run on
typical home computers; however, you may may not
be able to run these tools on corporate computers configured with
security (more information click here
Can conferences outside
of Toronto Central Council (TCC) use these tools?
Yes. All SVP conferences are welcome to use these
tools, although the following should be noted:
What if I only want
to issue income tax receipts?
- you should confirm that the allowed
revenue and expenditure classifications, as indicated above, will meet
your accounting needs.
- the Annual
Financial Statements produced by CAMS and TRS employ a format
specified by Toronto Central Council which is compliant
with CRA reporting directives (probably meet the needs of
- income tax receipt layouts are formatted to CRA
requirements and thus should be usable in all Canadian provinces
- since the tools are designed to comply with Canada Revenue
for Canadian registered charities, non-Canadian conferences would
likely find that these tools do not align with requirements in their
Both CAMS and TRS can be used solely to
issue annual tax receipts.
However, most of the treasurer's record keeping activity (perhaps 90%)
and donations tracking, so with a small incremental
amount of work related to expense posting, CAMS and TRS can give the
a full bookkeeping solution.
Putting aside the issue of the prerequisite software (Excel or Access),
there are functional differences between CAMS and TRS which may be
important to some users..
Both TRS and CAMS handle the basic SVP treasurer record
producing annual tax
receipts, keeping track of monthly conference revenues,
expenditures and balances, issuing annual financial
Both systems assume you know SVP bookkeeping
rules (both systems are an automation of the manual ledger forms found
in TCC's Treasurer's
guideline). Both systems have their own
learning curve and
therefore it is highly advisable to read the system's internal
documentation which covers system usage (but not treasurer's
duties, in any detail).
The primary difference between TRS and CAMS
- the TRS user interface is via Access menus where you
buttons to invoke forms
(e.g. donations form, or expense form) and reports
month;ly and annual reports or tax receipts); this is quite
to online banking applications, where your bank account
information can be
viewed and printed in various formats (for a pictorial
overview of TRS click
System Installation and Setup:
- the CAMS user
interface is Excel worksheets
worksheets for different
accounting data (e.g. donation worksheet, expense worksheet,
receipts worksheet, annual report worksheet) (for a
overview of CAMS click
provides for simple setup and production, involving the download of the
latest CAMS Excel spreadsheet for each fiscal year. Download and setup
be repeated annually since CAMS can support only one
donation year . . .
the treasurer should take care to archive each year's CAMS spreadsheet,
which form part of the conference's financial records.
download and installation involves two
download steps, but is a one-time activity since the database is
designed for ongoing multi-year
operation i.e. all your accounting years are available in the one
Both systems are intialized by input of
conference-specific information: conference name, address, charitable
registration #, etc.
CAMS is simpler to transfer to a new treasurer withing the conference,
while TRS takes slightly more care with its frontend / backend database
design (notwithstanding that Access software required for TRS is not
widely in use by home computer users).
CAMS' Excel-based design has some upper limits, which apply to the
conference financial activity for the fiscal year (a new spreadsheet is
required for each year). CAMS can only
support 600 donors but the Import/ Export function allows for the
transfer of donor name and address information from the previous
bookkeeping year to the current bookkeeping year. CAMS donation
activity is tied to the Sunday
collection cycle for the year, so there are in effect 52 preset
Sunday donation dates. Revenue and Expenditure transactions are limited
ledger entries each per year. These capacity constraints are
well within the annual transaction volumes of a typical conference.
TRS' Access-based design has no preset limits. TRS can support
thousands of donors over dozens of years. There is no restriction to
donation dating (any day in the year is valid) and no
limit to the number of revenue or expense transactions. Furthermore,
Access can process very large amounts of data very quickly.
CAMS provides the essential bookkeeping reports: monthly balance
summary, bnak reconciliation analysis, and annual financial statement,
donor ledgers etc. TRS is very
strong in providing a variety of
reports and analyses that can assist the treasurer in reviewing
conference data, performing multi year analysis, identifying trends,
checking anomalies etc. which may be of some interest to large
Both systems automate the chore of printing donors' income tax
receipts. TRS printing is effortless, employing
formatted full page layouts for receipts and other reports.
receipts and reports utilize Excel page printing functionality.
Ease of Use:
Both TRS and CAMS provide simple navigation for moving around the
system. Both have data validation to prevent erroneous inputs
dates and amounts (typos). Both systems have extensive
As of year end 2014 there are approximately 50 parishes using
and 10 using TRS. The
majority of help requests tend to be related to usage issues
covered in the
documentation that were overlooked or misunderstood) rather than
problems with the
Both CAMS and TRS are stable and rarely require technical support. When
required, support for CAMS spreadsheet users is significantly simpler
since only a single spreadsheet is involved, compared
to TRS with its frontend / backend database
Implemented as a Microsoft Excel
• supported for Excel
2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 and Mac Excel 2011, 2016
• Excel is available for
Windows and Mac computers
• Excel is a component of Microsoft Office Home &
Student Edition as well as several other Office editions
Implemented as a Microsoft Access
• supported for Access 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016
• Access is available on Windows computers only
is a component of Microsoft Office Professional Edition
can be purchased as an individual product
Ease of Use
There could be a learning curve for
those unfamiliar with large multi-sheet workbook environments and Excel
spreadsheet technology in general (cells, rows, columns, worksheet
tabs, references and formulas etc).
Similar to most menu-driven, point
and click window-based computer systems.
Donors and annual tax receipts: 600
weekly Sunday collections
(including 52 Sunday collection amounts)
Donors and annual tax receipts: unlimited
number and frequency of donations.
Single year operation only. Requires archival of current
year's spreadsheet and download of new spreadsheet template for the new
accounting year. Current year financial summaries only - no
ability to do year-over-year comparisons. Donor name and address data
can be Imported from prior year's spreadsheet.
Continuous ongoing multi-year
The system retains conference data year after year so that
donor and donations history is ongoing, supporting multi-year
reference, comparison and trend analysis reporting.
CAMS uses Excel data validation to
check critical accounting inputs (dates and amounts) and
performs some basic error checking.
TRS uses Access's capabilities to
validate user input and prevent illogical or erroneous inputs.
SVPtools allows for direct download
of the SVPcams.xls Excel spreadsheet file.
SVPtools download process
requires two database file downloads, to a specified
folder on the computer hard drive (C:\SVPtrs)
• SVPtrs.mdb - the frontend database that
contains program logic
• SVPtrsdat.mdb - the backend database
which contains your conference accounting data
The CAMS conference spreadsheet can
be easily moved to another computer simply by transferring the Excel
spreadsheet via memory stick or email attachment.
can be moved to another computer by transferring the installation
folder C:\SVPtrs via memory stick .
Limited reporting capabilities.
Excel Page Preview is used to review and control output.
Simple menu-driven report printing.
Automatic on-screen report preview. Many report options.
• conform to CRA content
• 3 per page income tax receipts to be used with #9
or #10 window envelope
• conform to CRA content
• 3 per page income tax receipts to be used with #9 or #10
Help / User Manual
Built-in documentation; each CAMS
worksheet has a Help function to explain design and usage. .
Built-in documentation; each TRS
menu and form has a Help function to explain design and usage.
When treasurers download a new
copy of CAMS at the start of the year the latest version of CAMS is
provided incorporating all changes made during the year. Application
updates cannot be applied during the year without impacting data
already entered into the spreadsheet.
New application releases can be
downloaded and applied at any time during the year without impact to
the conference data.
No reporting and analysis
capability beyond the minimum required by Treasurer's Duties
guideline issued by Toronto Central Council.
• annual Financial reports
• monthly cash flow summary reporting
• bank reconciliation worksheet
Extensive reporting and analysis
• monthly and annual activity summary
• summary and detail reporting
• donor trend and exception reporting
• periodic backup notification
• backup of user data to PC hard drive and
• backup of user data to PC hard drive and