Allied Charities of Minnesota

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  • 14 Dec 2018 04:50 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,

    Attached you will find an article on stadium funding that was published in the Star Tribune this past Wednesday (Dec. 12).

    In the article the current administration recommends moving the annual $20 million in corporate money from the stadium fund back to the general fund. Doing that would leave only our money ($38 million in FY2018) to cover the annual stadium bond payment ($31 million), which would cover the stadium bond payment, but effectively negate our chance for real tax relief.

    Our proposal for dealing with the stadium bonds is to put our first $35 million into the stadium fund, leave the $20 million from corporate and provide tax relief to charities by reducing the combined receipt brackets by 10% a year as long as we maintain the $35 million for the bonds. That would ensure that the bonds are paid for, leave money for future repairs/remodeling, provide the potential for early payment of the bonds and provide us relief.

    Fortunately there is a new day coming in a few weeks. Time will tell what the new administration and democratic house leadership have to say about the issue. We are getting indications from the senate that relief for us will be in their 2019 legislative agenda. We are hopeful that the governor-elect, the house and the senate will be willing to listen to win/win strategies that benefit all parties.

    The past two weeks I have been preparing recaps of FY2018 licensed charitable organization gaming results for each state senate district. I am always humbled and in awe when I see what is going on in over 1100 licensed gaming charities in every corner of our state.

    We are a diverse group of lay people helping those in need in our community. We don’t do it for glory or personal gain as our opponents like to claim. We do it for the right reasons, all designed to make the state a better place to live. As I have previously said, if everyone in the state belonged to organizations like ours the state would be better off.

    As has been pointed out to me by state officials on several occasions, we are not the only folks doing good deeds in Minnesota. But, when looked at as a group there is nobody else that even comes close to making the impact that we do on a statewide basis. I am not saying that as a boast, I am saying that as fact and a point of immense pride.  

    One would think that non government aid would be encouraged by state government, but that is not the case for us. There is very little recognition by state government of the good works that we do and the contribution that we make to the state coffers. We are accused by state legislators of being self serving and of taking advantage of our patrons. There is no apparent quenching of state government’s thirst for the results of our combined efforts. $40 million in FY2013 did not quench their thirst; $80 million in FY2018 is not doing it either.   

    I received a call from an organization this week that is well below the state average in the percentage of their net receipts that goes to expenses that paid 59% of what remained to the state in taxes and fees FY2018. In November they lost money at three of their six sites. They (and I as well) cannot understand why the state would put such a burden on organizations like theirs that are only trying to do good for others.  

    When you think about how we are treated by the state it is hard for me to comprehend. I believe that gambling is an activity that should be taxed. But, I do not believe that groups whose sole existence is to help others need pay the state more than we have for our community and missions.

    There was a day when such taxation would have never been considered yet allowed by our elected officials. I believe it was Ann Landers who said “no one can take advantage of you without your permission”. The state is taking advantage of us. As a group we need to decide if we are going to continue to let that happen.

    While I am disappointed in how the state treats us, I am disappointed in us as well. Getting the state to stop their current treatment of us will take effort on our part. ACM alone cannot make this happen. I hear from charities that ask why they need to get involved as they thought that is why they paid ACM membership dues.

    It is a problem when I talk to a legislator who tells me that no person from their district has ever talked to them about our tax issue. Legislators don’t address issues like ours that their constituents don’t care enough to talk to them about.

    ACM is one voice in a choir of thousands at the legislature, all looking for something from them. Our difference is that we are looking for justice not help. A non-profit paying on average five times (and up to seven times) in taxes what a business pays is wrong. We are not asking what government can do for us; we are saying that we want to be part of the solution to the funding of state government, but asking to be taxed and treated fairly in return. I for one do not think that is asking too much. Do you?

    Find out who represents you at https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/

    Regards,

    startribune20181213120444057.pdf

  • 07 Dec 2018 06:07 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,

    NEWS FLASH: The budget forecast released on December 6 predicts a $1.5 billion budget surplus, PLUS $2 billion in reserves.

    Next week the senate republican majority will be together at a retreat to discuss issues and plans for the upcoming legislative session.

    If you think that tax relief for licensed charitable gaming organizations needs to be on their agenda and your senator is a member of the republican majority, you need to let them know that right away.

    To find out who your senator is or how to contact them, use this link https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/

    Tell your senator what your organization paid in taxes and fees in FY2018. Tell them the percentage of what you had left after paying your expenses went to the state in taxes and fees.

    Many of you are now working longer for the state than you are for your community and mission.

    Tell them what more you would be able to do in your community if more of the money that you raised locally stayed local.

    ACM is working to educate every legislator on how the licensed gaming charities in their respective districts fared in FY2018.

    All of the education that we do here at ACM rings hollow with legislators if they are not hearing from the members of the organizations in their respective districts.

    Regards,


  • 26 Nov 2018 10:27 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Electronic Pull Tabs: The cure for what ails charitable gaming?  

    As I have returned home from Bemidji I have seen several “news” stories on how electronic pull tabs are now saving the day by paying for the Viking’s stadium with the potential of paying off the stadium bonds early.

    As I am wont to say, let us peel that onion back a little further.

    First off I want to reiterate that ACM is not anti electronics. Tools that deliver more profit per dollar wagered are preferred to tools that deliver less profit per dollar wagered.  

    A little fact checking shows that all of our first $36.9 million in charitable gambling taxes goes into the general fund each fiscal year.  After that all charitable gambling taxes go into the stadium bond fund. In FY 2018 we paid $38.1 million into the stadium fund and the corporate unitary tax paid in another $20 million. In total, the stadium bond fund received $58.1 million, almost double the $31 million needed to make the bond payments. The stadium fund resides in the general fund. There is no funding of this type from dedicated accounts. The ability for the state to pay off the bonds early does not come into play until FY2021/22.

    In my initial review of the GCB FY 2018 annual report the following occurred:

                    Sales grew by $300 million ($1.7 billion to $2 billion) +15%

                    Payout grew (83.4% to 84.3%) +1%

    State taxes/fees grew by $9 million ($72 million to $81 million) +12.5%

    Mission dollars grew by $6.5 million ($66 million to $72.5 million) + 10%

    Rent grew by $4 million ($27 million to $31 million) +15%

                    Cost of all games grew by $9.1 million ($34.7 million to $43.8 million) +26%

                    Cost of paper games grew by $1.7 million ($25.7 million to $27.4 million) +7%

                    Cost of electronic games grew by $7.4 million ($9 million to $16.4 million) +82%

                    Paper games provided 72% of our net receipts and represented 63% of our total product cost

                    Electronic games provided 16% of our net receipts and represented 37% of our total product cost

    At the current electronic revenue share rates, if all of our paper games transitioned to electronic games, total product cost would increase by $55 million to $97 million. Mission dollars would drop to $48 million. 

    The number of charities that are now required to conduct an outside annual audit has increased to 630 from less than 500 three years ago.

    Our net per dollar wagered declined from 3.84 cents in FY 2017 to 3.62 cents in FY 2018.

    The GCB Organization Annual report now includes a column of cash on hand. It shows that charities had $52 million dollars on hand at the end of FY2018. That sounds like a lot of money. Organizations saving for big ticket items (fire relief, hockey, snow, conservation and youth) rarely have the funds available to make a sizable purchase, except over time. $52 million divided between all of our organizations is $45,000 per organization. The number is a snapshot in time on a given day of a given year. If all organizations operated on the State’s fiscal year, that number would be vastly reduced. There are safeguards that have been put in place by the state of Minnesota and the federal government to ensure that an organization is not raising funds for the sake of raising funds. In fact, those same safeguards penalize us for holding on to cash beyond the end of our fiscal year. Those of you that have paid state and federal unrelated business income tax (UBIT) know the price imposed for not spending the funds that you have raised.  

    Thanks go out to you that were in Bemidji. I hope that you learned a lot, laughed a lot and thoroughly enjoyed yourself. In 2019 we will be in Rochester November 21 – 23.

    Applications for one year At-Large board members are being accepted until Monday, December 3. Applications can be found on the ACM website www.alliedcharitiesmn.org At-Large board members will be chosen by the ACM Regional Directors at the December 17 board meeting.

    Regards,


  • 20 Oct 2018 06:21 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Notice of Intent: notice-of-intent-to-adopt.pdf

    Rules Draft: RD4555 10172018.pdf

  • 05 Oct 2018 08:42 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,

    Update on Bemidji. There are hotel rooms available. The AmericInn, Best Western and Holiday Inn Express will have their ACM room blocks open until November 2. The Quality Inn and Super 8 will close their room blocks on October 15. See contact information below.

    We currently have 35 seminars being offered. 5 by the Gambling Control Board, 2 by the Department of Revenue, 2 by the Department of Public Service, 2 by ACM Attorney Mary Magnuson, 2 by Tom Horner, 2 by Mark Irving, 8 ACM Group Discussions and 12 by Exhibitors. Seminar descriptions will be out later this month.

    Thursday night we have our pizza welcome party and we also have C Willi Myles entertaining us. We consider C Willi a member of the ACM family. He is a gifted entertainer.

    Friday afternoon we will be having a cash bingo session with a must go $1000 cover-all being conducted by the North Country Snowmobile club. All proceeds are going to the Bemidji area food shelf.

    Friday evening is the banquet and entertainment by the Johnny Holm band. Johnny is a Minnesota legend that is not to be missed.

    If you have not registered for the convention, there is still time to do so. Registration is attached. Additional information can be found on the ACM website (www.alliedcharitiesmn.org) under the Convention & Expo tab.

    Come to Bemidji. You will learn, share, have fun and be entertained. Hope to see you there.

    Regards,

    Al

    AmericInn Lodge and Suites $99.90 per night (tax not included).  218-751-3000. 3.93 miles from the Sanford Center.  Shuttle bus service provided.

    Best Western $99.00 per night (tax not included).  218-751-0390. 4.84 miles from the Sanford Center.  Shuttle service not provided, free parking at Sanford Center.

    Holiday Inn Express $104.95 per night (tax not included).  218-751-2487. 3.92 miles from the Sanford Center.  Shuttle bus service provided.

    Quality Inn $103 per night (tax not included). 218-444-7700. 6.42 miles from the Sanford Center.  Shuttle bus service not provided, free parking at the Sanford Center.

    Super 8 $88.98 per night (tax not included). 218-308-9046. 4.5 miles from the Sanford Center.  Shuttle bus service provided.


  • 28 Sep 2018 04:40 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,

    My prediction is that when the FY2018 numbers come out they will show that since the passage of the 2012 stadium bill we have had less bottom line dollar growth than the bar, state or distributor/manufacturer.

    If you had told me that a charitable, need based community safety net would be changed in such a way as to benefit others more than the charity, I would have said “Not in Minnesota, no way, no how. That is not who we are”. But yet here it is.

    Our legislators are being told that we are not good stewards of the dollars that we receive, that we are self serving and keep dollars for our own use that would otherwise go to the needy.   

    Those that want to keep the status quo are saying “It’s their expenses; they pay their sellers, they pay their gambling manager, they don’t comparison shop their paper games and they have more dollars than they had six years ago”.

    There is no explaining away that the reason for charitable gaming, helping those in need, is the lowest rung of the profit ladder since the passage of the stadium bill. Six years is a long time. The numbers are not an anomaly; they are a trend that needs to be addressed.

    We are being made out to be less than honorable. Our character and integrity is being called into question. As a whole you are the most caring, selfless group of people that I have ever had the privilege to be associated with. I have seen your good works. I know your dedication and the sacrifices you have made.

    I understand the reluctance to get involved. Many of us believe that it will not do any good, that nothing we say or do is going to get our legislators to come to our aid. I am not telling you that contacting your legislators will bring about change. I am telling you that if you are not willing to defend your honor, nobody else will either.  

    Take time to review your own numbers from FY2013 through FY2018. See who benefited the least and who benefited the most. Share that with your legislators.

    Find out who represents you at https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/ Talk to them about the difference that you make in your community, what more you would be able to do if more money stayed in your community.

    Below are the contact links for the Walz and Johnson campaigns along with a link to a recent Forbes article on the worth of NFL franchises.

    https://walzflanagan.org/contact/

    http://www.johnsonforgovernor.org/contact

    https://www.forbes.com/nfl-valuations/list/#tab:overall

    Regards,


  • 21 Sep 2018 05:52 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,


    See the link to an article regarding sports themed tip boards for the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance of which I serve as a board member and treasurer.

    http://northstarproblemgambling.org/2018/09/charitable-gambling-venues-debut-sports-themed-tip-boards/


    We have asked both Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson for the winner of the November election to address us in Bemidji. Both have replied that they have us down for an appearance request, but are making no commitments until after the election. We have also asked them if they have a position on our tax issue, but have received no response from either Johnson or Walz at this time. If you know either of the candidates, ask them where they stand on our issue. We will let you know if they do get back to us with a position statement. 

    You may have heard this week that another charitable gaming organization (Roseville Area Youth Hockey Association, not a member of ACM) has apparently been the victim of theft of gambling funds by organization employees. This is always hard to hear and tougher to understand. If your organization does not have a gambling committee you need to start one. If you suspect that something is going on in your organization that needs to be looked into you have an obligation to the organization to call attention to that. ACM has associate members that offer accounting services, accounting software, consulting and attorney services. The more eyes the better is great advice. 


  • 07 Sep 2018 05:39 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Sports themed tip boards are now available from your licensed distributor. Several versions have been approved for sale. Contact your distributor for details.

    On-line education for sports boards is available from the Gambling Control Board on their website.

    Legal sports boards are available for sale only through a licensed charity. All other sports boards offered for sale that are not sold through a licensed charity are illegal. If you see illegal sports boards being offered in your sites call the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division to report that activity. Their number is 651-201-7500 and you can remain anonymous. Allowing Illegal sports boards to be offered at the same time as legal sports boards will not help us to increase aid to our communities.

    Sports boards are a tool that has the potential to deliver incremental mission dollars to your organization. As ACM has said with all of the tools available to us, unless you try it you will not know if it is right for your organization. We have waited six years for this tool to be available to us, give them a try before you decide if they are right for your organization.


  • 30 Aug 2018 08:42 | Allen Lund (Administrator)

    Members,

    Below you will find the GCB response (unedited by ACM) to the letter that ACM President Jaranson sent to GCB Chair Goede on 06/21/2018.

    We value the role of the Gambling Control Board. We all agree that bad apples need to be found and expunged from charitable gaming in Minnesota. At the same time, we all make mistakes and benefit from assistance on occasion. The role of the GCB is as much mentor as regulator, and we would hope that the GCB would assist organizations in solving minor as well as significant problems. We believe that  getting a struggling organization back on track is far superior to letting it fail.

    It is true that ACM has been critical of the state in the recent years. We would challenge you to find a charity that has grown their donations at a higher percentage than their taxes and fees since FY2012. In FY2017, charities as a whole paid more in taxes and fees than was available for our communities and missions. We understand that we are a part of the fabric of the state and need to pay taxes, but not at the disproportionate rates we are paying today.

    We all see the needs in our local communities across our great state growing by the day. With the current combined receipt tax rates and the ever increasing costs of running a charitable gaming organization, our ability to help others is diminishing. Charitable gaming has been a safety net in many communities for over 73 years, but as our mission dollars decline, so will the programs and services that we support. Allied Charities has fought tirelessly for tax reform, and we will continue to challenge those in positions of power to listen to us and provide all Minnesota licensed charities with much needed tax  relief.

    Regards,

    Al Lund

    Dear Chair Goede:                                           06/21/2018

     

    We wish to bring several items to your attention that are of concern to Allied Charities of MN and licensed gaming charities statewide. All of the information related below was brought to us directly by charities or their members. As an organization representing those charities, we believe it is our obligation to relate their concerns to you and ask that you take all necessary and appropriate action.

     

    A charitable gaming organization that had a bar operation of electronic gaming turned in their license due to mismanagement. We are told that the Board was aware of the mismanagement (by both the site and the charity) for months, but chose to do nothing until there was no recourse for the charity other than to turn in their license. What would be the purpose of letting this continue once the Board was aware of the issue? Was it possible that earlier intervention could have resulted in a better outcome for the charity?

     

                    GCB Response: We were aware of the issues with this organization and in fact worked very closely with their leadership in terms of trying to resolve the accounting problems based on their monthly reports submitted to the Gambling Control Board.  We’d be happy to share our case file records regarding this instance but the fact of the matter is, due to poor internal controls and lack of oversight by the charity, a bar owner was grossly underreporting the actual sales activity for electronic games and the gambling manager failed to properly account for these sales.  By the time the actual theft was discovered, investigated and total amount determined, the organization communicated it was unable to recover the missing funds and reimburse the gambling account.

     

    A charitable gaming organization that suspected theft in their operation contacted the Board (at the urging of ACM), not once, not twice, but three times (up to and including the Director) for help. They were told each time that Gambling Control is not “free labor”. They were told that the charity would need to figure it out on their own and report the findings to the Board for possible sanctions, fines and penalties. With several million dollars of reserves in the dedicated Gambling Control fund directly from charities, we believe that the Board has the resources and the OBLIGATION to provide assistance to charities to prevent and detect theft, mismanagement and other such issues. We view the role of the Board to include assistance when the charity does not know how to determine whether or not theft has occurred. We are currently reviewing whether or not to tell charities to contact their compliance officer when they call us with similar issues.

     

                    GCB Response: Yes, we did talk with the organization’s CEO about a possible theft and unfortunately they suspected the gambling manager and one of his sellers.  The organization’s CEO could not provide any specific details and had no first-hand knowledge of the operations but suspected “something was wrong”.  Knowing the possible theft was focused on the seller and gambling manager, our compliance specialist recommended that the CEO/Post Commander bring in an accountant to audit the games specific to that site/seller.    When the CEO called again to talk with one of the GCB investigators, we provided the same recommendation to have someone do an audit of the games to determine proper accounting and provide credible evidence of theft.  When Mr. Lund asked me to look into the matter, my email confirmed to Mr. Lund what direction was given to the organization.  I made no such comment about “free labor” and to my knowledge, the organization was able to resolve their issues internally.  If there was a theft, a fund loss report was never filed with the Board.

     

    We will continue to encourage charities to contact the Gambling Control Board if there is a potential problem or credible indication of theft but it is not the mission of Board staff to take over the accounting and internal controls of an organization’s charitable gaming operation to resolve their accounting deficiencies.

     

    The Board has been asked repeatedly by charitable organizations to stop for-profit entities (bars, distributors and manufacturers) from meeting to discuss gambling options, usually electronic gaming, without the knowledge or inclusion of any charitable organization. This is not education or training. Actual deals are being made among the for-profit entities that the charitable gaming organizations are then forced to comply with or lose the site. This was offered for inclusion in the most recent rules update but was denied.

     

                    GCB Response: If such activity (discussing electronic gaming options) is not education or training, then let’s call it marketing or selling.  Manufacturers, linked bingo game vendors, distributors, and distributor salespersons are all licensed by the board to conduct business related to charitable gambling and that license does allow these “for-profit” entities the opportunity to educate, train, market and sell their products.  But it still remains the licensed charity’s ultimate decision of what to buy or not buy and with regard to electronic games, only the charity can enter into an agreement (“deals”) for electronic games.  There is no similar restriction when it comes to the purchase of paper pull-tabs or other games and we recognize that bar owners also act as agents of the charities when accepting games delivered by a distributor – with or without the consent of the charitable organization.

     

    Bars that have electronic gaming are required by statute to have paper pull tabs available for sale. Bars that do not want to sell paper pull tabs are keeping them out of sight and not making them available to customers. It has been reported to us that Gambling Control is ignoring the statute.

     

                    GCB Response: The Board has not received one complaint or allegation with regard to sites not making paper games available to customers.  If we get a complaint we can certainly look into it but we also believe a charity has the right to determine for itself what games to offer or not.  This is similar to one charity offering 4 different pull-tab games and another charity across the street offering 8 pull-tab games – in this situation, the Board does not take a position how many games should be offered for sale by a charity. 

     

    The electronic pull tab systems have been allowed to be designed to include an auto-close feature that consistently closes games above 85%. When in use the auto-close feature is a defacto posting of games as players are aware that games in play have large prizes remaining. There is no reason that an auto-close feature cannot be programmed to close games at 85% or less. In fact, we believe that allowing this feature without requiring it to close games at 85%

    may violate the statute. We proposed a rule amendment to require the auto-close feature to be designed to close games at no more than 85%, but our request was denied.

     

                    GCB Response: Your request was not denied.  Based on our review of game activity, sites that utilize the auto-close feature are NOT consistently closing above 85%.  When we looked at more detail it is apparent that the charities that closely monitor their game activity, including auto-close games, do very well in managing their electronic game sales.  In fact, electronic games close at a percentage much closer to the ideal net receipts than what we see at most sites for paper games.  At the most recent Rules Committee meeting this issue was again presented by representatives of Allied Charities and the Board asked if the auto-close feature should be available for use by the charities.  There was no opposition including from Allied Charities to allow the auto-close feature.  The next question was, would the manufacturers be willing to design other auto-close options that could provide the charities with more options with regard to prizepayout limits and the response from manufacturers present that they were willing to program more options.  But regardless of options available, it is still paramount that the choice and decision lies with each charity to manage its games and to decide whether to engage or not to engage an auto-close feature.  It appears your concern is what game information is available to the player and, when auto-close is engaged, should that information be available to the player.

     

    For as long as anyone on the ACM Board can remember, the Gambling Control Board has held their November meeting at the ACM annual convention. It appears that this year, that long tradition will end. The decision to not have the Board attend the November ACM annual convention in Bemidji is troubling to us. It would seem that the decision is not based on monetary considerations given the millions of dollars of surplus funds in the dedicated account. Charitable gaming organizations exist all throughout our state and no one area is more deserving of the Gambling Control Board’s presence than another. Perhaps you can shed light on the factors that what went into making this decision? If the final decision is not to have the full board attend, perhaps you, the Director, and other key personnel can attend and hold a panel discussion to allow charities to ask the questions that they would otherwise not be able to ask?

     

                    GCB Response: Representatives of Allied Charities have become much more critical in recent years of our regulatory efforts and have also been very critical of the governor’s administration and legislative leaders’ actions or inactions involving charitable gambling.  We recognize the importance and existence of a trade association such as Allied Charities in standing for what is important to its members but we also realized the need to minimize our direct involvement in the business function of trade associations.  With that said, we remain committed to providing Board staff for training and educational purposes as planned for your convention scheduled for later this year. 

     

    Although we are told Gambling Control personnel will be in attendance at the ACM convention, their seminar schedule has been cut from 10 to 5 classes. The three day ACM convention typically provides the annual CEU credit requirement to 25% of the gambling managers in the state. There is no other event in the state that does this or even comes close to doing this. Since Gambling Control personnel are going to be in attendance, why cut the number of course offerings?

     

                    GCB Response: Based on the actual class schedule from last year, the Gambling Control Board conducted 8 (not 10) continuing education (CE) classes at the Allied Charities convention.  This is in addition to the other 45 CE classes Board staff conducted statewide over the past year.  After conferring with our state counterparts (Revenue and Public Safety) it was determined that we would commit to a smaller number of classes knowing that Revenue and Public Safety would continue with the same level as before and knowing that attendance at the ACM convention has also dropped over the years.  Additionally, we launched our online training classes and have received tremendous response to this effort. Our online classes were created in response to the charities’ need to reduce or minimize expenses and has already proven to be very efficient and cost effective for the charities.

     

    I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you in person or by phone at your earliest convenience. While we serve different roles, cooperation between ACM and the Board serves the best interests of the charities and the State. Our industry is facing many challenges. Together we can meet those challenges and ensure a future for the many worthwhile beneficiaries of charitable gaming.

    Regards,

    Rich Jaranson

    ACM President

    Cell 218-766-0945

    E-mail richj@paulbunyan.net


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