Sending rota reminders
Automatically sending rota reminders to your rota members is really easy, and a great way of helping people keep their serving commitments.
In this article
Overview of rota reminder functionality
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. 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 content and schedule. Importantly, rota reminders always respect your rota, reflecting the dates, times, service, members, availability, roles, role order, rota notes and service notes on the rota for which the reminder is being sent.
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 or from an email address that you would prefer to receive replies to. The Send drop-down is used to determine how long before each rota date the reminder is to be sent. Reminders are sent each morning at approximately 8am local time for all ChurchSuite accounts. It is not possible to customise the sending time of rota reminders. The email Subject will default to your church's account name followed by the name of the rota.
Turning to the body content of the 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 email rota reminder example - we've simply added a personalised greeting using Merge Fields and a brief introductory sentence...
...but ChurchSuite then styles and formats the sent email rota reminder with all the rota and role-related information, 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, you can see that the actual rota reminder email is styled to your church'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 (a note about the theme and readings in this example), any rota-specific note, the rota date and serving times, and the role(s) the team member is set to serve as on that date ("Electric Guitar and B/Vox" 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), 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 or whether rota Reminders have been set up are shown on the the ministry page (on the right)...
...and on the rota page...
...and on the Rotas list (and Ministries list).
Children on rotas
Rota 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 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 rota reminders go to a parent's email address.
How to set up rota reminders for a ministry
In Ministries section of the Rotas module, 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.
On the ministry edit page, scroll down to the Reminders section.
Either click on the Email tab and tick to Send Email Reminder...
...or click on the SMS tab and tick to Send SMS Reminder.
Customising email rota reminders
Having ticked to Send Email Reminder, you can customise the email. Set when to Send the reminder, selecting the number of days before each rota date. Only one email reminder is possible. Optionally set the From Name and From Email, the email Subject and finally add the email body 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. 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 email reminders for all your ministries from scratch, and ensure you have consistent language and content on email reminders across all your ministries.
You can easily add personalisation to the reminder email using Merge Fields. Simply position your cursor where the field is to be added and then select the merge field from the drop-down selector - for example Dear ::first_name::
To save the rota reminder, click Save Changes for your Ministry before navigating away from the page.
Customising SMS rota reminders
When you tick to Send SMS Reminder, the familiar "customise SMS" screen appears. Set when to Send the reminder, selecting the number of days before each rota date. It's often helpful to stagger the sending of the reminder email and reminder SMS - perhaps sending the email first, and then an SMS a couple of days before - remember, email open rates are often low, but an SMS has a 100% open rate!
Only one SMS reminder is possible. Optionally set the SMS From - either a generic name, which won't receive SMS replies, or a specific mobile number that could receive replies - and finally add the SMS message content, perhaps using language appropriate to the ministry - typically no more than 160 characters to ensure each reminder doesn't use multiple SMS credits.
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.
As with email reminders, you can add personalisation to the message body content using Merge Fields, as demonstrated in the example above. Save your SMS reminder by clicking Save Changes for the ministry before navigating away from the page.