Sending rota reminders
Sending automated rota reminders to rota members is really easy to set up and a great way of helping people keep on top of their serving commitments or prompt them if they need to organise a swap.
In this article
Overview of rota reminder functionality
You can send email and SMS rota reminders, each with their own sending schedule. You can only configure one email and one SMS rota reminder per ministry. Reminders are enabled and disabled in the Ministries section and can be customised and personalised to suit that particular ministry. Any rotas created for that ministry will then inherit the ministry's rota reminder content and sending schedule. Importantly, rota reminders always respect the rota, reflecting the dates, times, service, members, availability, roles, role order, rota notes and service notes for the rota for which the reminder is being sent. Rota reminders are only sent for 'published' rotas.
For email rota reminders note that by default the From Name will be "ChurchSuite" and the From Email will be our firstname.lastname@example.org address - you can override these if you wish reminders to come from a designated individual and from an email address that you would like to receive replies to. The Send drop-down is used to determine how long before each rota date the reminder will be sent. Reminders are sent each morning at approximately 8am local time for all ChurchSuite accounts, but this time can be customised in the module's settings, which will apply to all email and SMS reminders - it is not possible to customise the sending time on a ministry-by-ministry basis. The email Subject will default to your church's account name followed by the name of the rota but this can also be customised if you wish.
Within the body content of the rota reminder it's important to note that ChurchSuite automatically appends all the rota-related content to the message that you create. You therefore only need to add a brief friendly greeting. Consider the following email rota reminder example - we've added a brief personalised greeting using Merge Fields and an introductory sentence...
...but ChurchSuite then styles and formats the final sent email rota reminder with all the rota-related information for each recipient, including any rota-specific notes and service notes that you may have added for the related rota date in question, as follows:
In the example above, the final rota reminder email is styled to your organisation's colour palette, includes the rota name ("Worship" in this example), the service name ("The 10.30 at the Main" in this example), any service note (e.g. a note about the theme and readings), any rota-specific note, the rota serving date and serving times, and the role(s) the team member is set to serve as on that date ("Drums" in this example). Additionally, a team listing (with roles, if assigned) is included - ideal for helping rota members identify who else is serving with them and their respective roles. The ministry's Description field is also included under the team list - many organisations use this field to describe the ministry in order to relate people's serving activity back to a purpose or vision.
Rota reminders are not sent to rota members who have added unavailability for that rota date but who may still be on the rota. However, where unavailable members remain on a rota date (perhaps so that overseers can see who was due to serve), the unavailable rota members will show on the rota reminder email in red strikethrough. In this way, fellow rota members will still see those unavailable members in red strikethrough on their reminders.
A visual indicator of whether rota Reminders are enabled/disabled is shown on each ministry's "View" page if the icon is coloured in...
...and on each rota's "View" page...
...and on the Rotas list (and Ministries list) - those with email or SMS icons.
Children on rotas
Rota reminders for any children assigned to rotas are sent to the child's email address specified in their child contact profile. Reminders are not sent to parents, even if the child's email address is blank. For serving children and young people that do not have an email address of their own, you may find it helpful to add a parent email address against the serving child's Child email field so that child rota reminders go to a parent's email address.
Setting up rota reminders for a ministry
In Ministries section of the Rotas module, navigate through to a ministry's "View" page and click Edit from the reminder's Action menu...
On the Edit reminder pop-up click to Send reminders.
Having ticked to Send email/SMS reminder you can now optionally customise the message. Set when to Send the reminder, selecting the number of days before each rota date. Only one email reminder is possible per ministry. Optionally set the From Name, From Email and the email Subject and finally add any message content, perhaps using language appropriate to the ministry.
You might find it helpful to create a Preset rota reminder email (in Administrator > Presets), which can then be used as a template so that whenever you are adding a new ministry you can select your rota reminder from the Preset Emails list - this will save you typing lots of very similar email reminders for each of your ministries from scratch and ensure consistent language and content across each of your ministries.
You can easily add personalisation to the reminder using Merge Fields. Simply position your cursor where the merge field is to be added and then select from the Merge Fields from the drop-down selector - for example 'Hi ::first_name::'. Click Save when you have finished making changes.
The same principles for an Email reminder also apply when customising the SMS reminder. Set when to Send the reminder, selecting the number of days before each rota date. For ministries where you're sending email and SMS reminders it's often helpful to stagger the sending schedule - perhaps sending the email first and then the SMS a couple of days later - remember, email open rates are often low but an SMS has a 100% open rate! Only one SMS reminder is possible per ministry. Optionally set the SMS From - either a generic name, which won't receive SMS replies or a specific mobile number that can receive SMS replies - and finally add the SMS message content - typically no more than 160 characters to ensure each reminder doesn't use multiple SMS credits. As with email reminders, you can add personalisation to the SMS message content using Merge Fields. Click Save to save the changes made.
As with rota reminder emails, you may find it helpful to create a Preset SMS Rota Reminder (in Administrator > Presets) as a template Once created, whenever you are adding a new ministry, you can select your rota reminder preset from the list - this will save you typing lots of very similar SMS reminders for all your ministries from scratch and ensure you have consistent language and content on SMS reminders across all your ministries.
You can can preview a ministry's email and SMS rota reminder by selecting View from the Action menu next to each reminder...
...to make sure the message body content is as expected. Note that the preview doesn't include the additional rota-related information that will be appended to your reminder (example shown earlier in this article).
Customising the sending time for rota reminders
By default, rota reminders are sent at 8am for the local time of each ChurchSuite account, but you can optionally change this time, if you wish.
Head into the Rotas module's settings via the cogwheel icon in the top right corner of the module. On the Module Options tab, set the Rota Reminder Time as appropriate and Save the changes before navigating away from the settings.
Notes about the intended functionality
- The rota reminder time applies to email and SMS reminders for all ministries. It is not possible to set different times for email and SMS reminders, and it is not possible to set different times on a ministry-by-ministry basis
- Where you have ministries with reminders set to send "On the day", care should be taken to ensure that the rota reminder time is before the earliest serving times for that ministry's rotas; otherwise no reminder will be sent for that rota date!
- Only one set of email and SMS reminders can be sent in one day. Changing the rota reminder time to a later time after the day's reminders have already been sent will not trigger the reminders being sent again - there is validation in place to prevent reminders being resent.
- You can only configure only one email and one SMS reminder per ministry - for example, it's not possible to send more than email/SMS rota reminder for a rota date - only one sending schedule for email and one for SMS is permissible.
Disabling rota reminders
Rota reminders are controlled at a Ministry level and therefore apply to all rotas for that ministry. However, you can easily disable the rota reminders for all rotas for an individual ministry or for multiple or even all ministries, if you wish - here's how...
Disabling reminders for an individual ministry
Navigate to the Ministries section of the Rotas module. From the Action menu next to the Email and SMS reminder, select Edit.
On the Edit reminder pop-up, untick the Send reminders option and save the changes to disable reminders for all published rotas for the selected ministry.
Bulk-disabling rota reminders for multiple ministries
Within the Ministries section of the Rotas module, selecting one or more ministries will reveal the Actions menu, enabling you to perform batch actions on the selected ministries. Select Edit.
On the Edit pop-up, select which Reminders you wish to batch edit - email and SMS reminders. A list of selected ministries that will be updated is also shown. For each reminder type, ticking the checkbox will expand the options for that setting. Select as appropriate. Once you have edited the desired settings, type I CONFIRM and click the Save button to process the batch changes to each selected ministry.