Sending rota reminders
Sending automated reminders to rota members is easy to set up and a great way to help people stay on top of their serving commitments or prompt them if they need to add unavailability or organise a swap.
In this article
Overview of rota reminder functionality
You can send email and SMS rota reminders, each with its own sending schedule. You can only configure one email and one SMS rota reminder per ministry, which then applies to all rotas for that ministry. Reminders are enabled and disabled in the Ministries section and can be customised and personalised to suit a particular ministry. Any rotas created for that ministry inherit the ministry's rota reminder content and sending schedule. Importantly, rota reminder content always respects the rota, with the rota date, serving times, service name, rota member list, availability, roles, role order, ministry description, rota notes and service notes appended automatically to the personalised reminder message you might add. Finally, note that rota reminders are only sent for Published rotas and are not sent while a rota has a Draft status.
Setting up rota reminders
In the Ministries section of the Rotas module, navigate through to the ministry "View" page and click Edit from the reminder Actions menu. Note that there is an Email reminder and an SMS reminder. We'll begin with the Email reminder and then the SMS reminder.
On the Edit email reminder pop-up tick Send Email Reminders.
You can now optionally customise the reminder message (see the example below). Select when to Send the reminder, selecting the number of days before each rota date the reminder should be sent. Reminders are sent each morning at approximately 8 am local time for all ChurchSuite accounts, but this sending time can be customised in the Rotas module settings (see later in this article), which will apply to all email and SMS reminders - it is not possible to customise the sending time on a ministry-by-ministry basis. For email rota reminders, and as shown in the example below - note that by default the From Name will be "ChurchSuite" and the From Email will be "firstname.lastname@example.org". You can overtype preferred contact details if you wish the reminder to come from a named individual or from a managed email address to which you would like to receive replies. The email Subject defaults to your organisation name followed by the ministry name, but this can also be overtyped if you wish.
You might find it helpful to create a Preset rota reminder email (in Administrator/User > Presets), which can then be used as a reminder template so that when adding new ministries, you can re-use a rota reminder template from the Preset Emails list. This will save you from re-typing the same email message each time and ensure consistent language and content across all your rota reminder communications. See the related support article on Using preset emails for further information.
Finally, optionally add a personal message to the body content of the reminder. You can add personalisation to a reminder by using Merge Fields. Position your cursor where the merge field is to be added and then select a Merge Field to insert - for example, 'Hi ::first_name::'. Click Save to complete the process.
The same process above also applies to the SMS reminder. Set when to Send the SMS reminder, selecting the number of days before each rota date. For ministries where an email and SMS reminder is being sent it's often helpful to stagger the Send schedule - perhaps sending the email reminder first and then the SMS reminder a couple of days later. Remember, email open rates are often low but an SMS typically has a 100% open rate! Optionally overtype the SMS From name - either a generic name (which won't receive SMS replies) or a specific mobile number to which replies can be received. Finally, add the SMS message, 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 message using Merge Fields. Click Save to complete the process.
You can preview your rota reminders by selecting View from the reminder Actions. Note that a preview won't include all the additional rota-specific information that will be appended to the reminder when sent.
Customising the sending time for rota reminders
By default, rota reminders are sent once each calendar day at 8 am local time based on each ministry's "Send" schedule (as described above), but you can optionally change this time if you wish.
Head into the Rotas module 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 - click Edit to make changes.
- 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 set in the module settings is before the earliest serving times for that ministry's rotas; otherwise, no reminder will be sent for that rota date. For example, reminders set to be sent at "10 am on the day" for a rota that is set to serve from 9.30 am will not be sent.
- Only one set of email and SMS reminders can be sent in one day. Changing the rota reminder time to a later time after that day's reminders have been sent will not trigger new reminders to be sent again later.
- You can only configure one email and one SMS reminder per ministry - for example, it's not possible to send more than one email/SMS rota reminder for a rota date - there is only one sending schedule for email and one for SMS is permissible.
- Rota reminders are not sent to those who have added unavailability, although their name will be shown in strikethrough styling in the rota reminder member list if they remain on the rota.
Children on rotas - reminders for 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 empty. For serving children and young people that do not have an email address, you may wish to add a parent email address against the serving child's Child email field so that rota reminders go to a parent email address.
Disabling rota reminders
Rota reminders are set at a Ministry level and apply to all rotas for that ministry. However, you can 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 and select the Ministry you wish to disable reminders for. 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 reveals the batch Actions menu. Select Edit.
On the Edit pop-up select the Reminders to edit and select the appropriate Yes or No option. Click Save to process the changes to each selected ministry.