Sending rota reminders
Automatically sending rota reminders to rota members is really easy, and a great way of helping people keep their commitments.
In this article
Overview of rota reminders
You can send email and SMS rota reminders (or even both), and each can have its own sending schedule. You can only configure one email and one SMS rota reminder per ministry per week. Reminders are created at a Ministry level and can be customised and personalised to suit that particular ministry. Any rotas created for that ministry will inherit the ministry's rota reminder settings and schedule. Importantly, rota reminders always respect your rota, reflecting the dates, times, members, availability, roles and role order on that rota.
For email rota reminders, note that by default the reminder will be sent "From ChurchSuite" and "From [our no-reply@] Email" - you can override these if you wish reminders to come from a named individual or from an email address that you would prefer to receive replies to.
Turning to the body content of your rota reminder, it's important to note that ChurchSuite automatically adds in all the extra rota-related content to the body text of the message that you create - you therefore only need to add a friendly introductory greeting. Consider the following rota reminder email example - we have simply added a personalised greeting using a merge field and an introductory sentence...
...but ChurchSuite then styles and formats the actual rota reminder email with rota and role-related information, including any rota and service Notes that you may have added for the related rota date in question, as follows:
In the example above, you can see that the actual rota reminder email is styled to your church's colour palette, includes the Rota name ("Worship 10:30am" in this example), the service name, the rota date and serving times, and the role(s) the team member is set to serve as on that date ("Worship Leader" in this example).
Additionally, a team listing (with roles, if assigned) is included in the email - ideal for letting rota members know who else is serving with them on their team and each of their respective roles. The content of the ministry description field is also included under the team list - many churches use this field to describe the ministry in order to relate people's serving activity back to a purpose or the church's vision.
Rota reminders are not sent to rota members who have added unavailability for that rota date but who may still be left on the rota. However, where unavailable members have been left on a rota date (perhaps so that overseers can see who was due to serve), unavailable rota members will show on the rota and rota reminder email in red strikethrough. In this way, fellow rota members will still see those unavailable members in red strikethrough on their reminders.
Children on rotas
Rota reminders for children on rotas are sent to the child's email address specified in their child contact profile. Note that 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 might find it helpful to add a parent email address against the serving child contact so that reminders do at least go to a parent email address.
How to set up rota reminders for your ministry
In "Rotas" > "Ministries", select a ministry, and click Edit at the top of the ministry's page, or from within a rota, select Edit ministry from the Edit button at the top of the rota's page.
Scroll down to the reminder section.
You can now 'check' to enable Email and/or SMS reminders, and personalise your rota reminder as explained in the next sections.
Rota reminders are sent automatically by ChurchSuite at around 8am GMT on the prescribed number of days before the rota date. For example, reminders for Sunday set to be sent 4 days before, will be sent on Wednesday.
Note: Unlike scheduled emails and scheduled SMS that you initiate in ChurchSuite, rota reminders are a system function that is managed by the ChurchSuite servers; it's therefore not possible to customise the time of day reminders are sent.
Customising your email rota reminders
When you tick to enable sending of email rota reminders, the familiar "customise email" screen appears. Here you can set when the reminder should be sent, specifying the "number of days before" from the drop down box. Only one email reminder is currently possible. Fill in the details of who the rota email will come from and then type the body of your email; tailoring it to your ministry.
You could create a Preset Rota Reminder ("Administrator" > "Presets") as a template and then pull that Preset into your blank rota reminder as a starting place for further customising - this may save you typing lots of similar email reminders for all your ministries from scratch.
You can personalise your rota reminder using Merge Fields from the drop-down selector - for example "Dear ::first_name::".
Save your rota reminder by clicking "Save Changes" on your Ministry.
Customising your SMS rota reminders
When you tick to enable sending of SMS rota reminders, the familiar "customise SMS" screen appears. Here you can set when the reminder should be sent, specifying the "number of days before" from the drop down box. Only one SMS reminder per ministry possible. Fill in the details of who the rota SMS will appear to come from (either a generic name, which won't receive SMS replies, or a specific mobile number that could receive replies) and then type the body of your SMS (typically no more than 160 characters); tailoring it to your ministry.
You could create a Preset SMS Rota Reminder ("Administrator" > "Presets") as a template and then select that SMS Preset as a starting point for further customisation - this may save you typing lots of similar SMS reminders for all your ministries from scratch. Select a Preset SMS from the drop down list on the right.
You can further personalise rota reminders using Merge Fields, as demonstrated in the example above. Save your email reminder by clicking Save Changes on your ministry. The rota reminder is then shown visual on the rota page (on the right hand side, shown below).