Adding custom fields for contacts and children

In this article

Overview of the intended functionality
Creating custom fields
Using custom fields

Overview of the intended functionality

While we've tried to anticipate the most common field needs of those coordinating administration, it's sometimes the case that you may want to record information that doesn't comfortably fit in any of the categories, fields or sections already available in ChurchSuite.

For example, maybe you have a real emphasis on community meals and so a section in the Address Book where dietary requirements can be logged against contacts could be helpful. Or perhaps your organisation maintains a membership, so a selectable drop-down or radio list of membership status options on each member's profile would be really useful. To cater for these types of scenario you can create Custom Fields within the Address Book and Children modules.

You can select from a variety of data formats - please see the related support article Question Response Types for a full explanation of each type.

You can create up to 10 custom fields within each module. There's a 250 max. character limit on a custom field's Name and Option labels, and custom field responses for Single sentence type and Paragraph type fields can be up to 250 characters in length. The process of adding custom fields is the same in both modules. All custom fields can be optionally set visible and editable in My ChurchSuite. Children module custom fields can be optionally set visible in the Child Check-In system's Admin Area. Address Book module custom fields can be set editable on the Connect 'My Details' and Address Book Embed newcomer forms.

When you move someone between the Address Book and Children modules, any custom field data where the custom field is present in both modules will be retained after the transfer - as long as the custom fields match in name, type and options, the data will be carried between the modules. Custom field data for fields not present in both modules is not retained.

Custom fields are fully searchable and are included in each respective module's Advanced Search functionality. They can be also be included in each module's CSV export function and they can be specified as conditions within Smart Tags; so you can ask easily questions of your data and match results based on the contents of custom fields. You can also add/edit custom field values as an action within a Flow.

Finally, the Missing Data report, in the Address Book and Children module's Reports section, can be used to identify missing data in custom fields (i.e. ideal for identifying people who have no data for a custom field).

Creating custom fields

To create a Custom Field simply click into the module's settings via the cogwheels icon in the top right-hand corner of the appropriate module - you'll need manage module or Administrator permissions to access this feature. In this article we'll begin by looking at custom fields in the Address Book but the same principles apply to custom fields in the Children module. See the later section for Small Groups module custom fields

On the Module Options tab scroll down to Custom Fields section.

Give your Custom Field an appropriate Name and select the field format Type. Depending on the selected 'Type', set the appropriate Options for the custom field. With the exception of Checkbox and Contact types you can optionally set whether a custom field is a Required field.

"Required" fields - important

By definition Required fields must always have a valid entry. When creating a new "required" custom field you'll have existing people who don't yet have that custom field option set. Consequently, when editing a person's profile you'll experience a validation error when saving the profile unless you first set the "required" custom field option before saving. Simply scroll down the pop-up to the person's custom field options and supply the missing required options.

Similarly, existing members editing their details in My ChurchSuite will need to complete a missing "required" custom fields that have been set to be editable in My ChurchSuite.

For newcomer-facing forms such as the My Details form in Connect and the Address Book Embed, it is possible to override the Connect and Embed Options in the module's settings, setting set a "required" custom field to not be visible or editable on the form and the form still be submittable without a validation error.

When setting a Custom Field as Required the Batch Update button becomes visible...

Batch Update enables you to assign a default custom field option to all existing people in the module (and for the site being viewed) where they do not yet have any value assigned - those with existing values will not be affected by a batch update. In this example below, a new required "Member status" custom field has been added. All existing people currently have no option assigned. The 'batch update' can be used to assigned an option to every person in the site being viewed. For example, if you assign a 'member' option you'll need to manually assign the 'non-member' options later. It's not possible to selectively batch assign required field values. If anyone already has an option value assigned they will be unaffected by a "Batch Update" and will retain their existing custom field option.

When changing an existing Custom Field from one format to another ChurchSuite will often be able to help with the change of data Type. For example, when changing a "Single Sentence" type to Checkbox List, Radio List or Drop-down List, ChurchSuite will automatically populate a list of custom field options based on your existing data, creating a field Option for each unique text entry found against your existing contacts.

Note about changing custom field "types"

While no data is lost when changing a field format from one type to another, it is possible that your data will have existing values that are not compatible with the new field type you are selecting. In this scenario, the original values against your contacts are maintained after the change but it will be removed if it is not compatible with the new field type when a contact is edited and saved. This incompatibility scenario is most likely to occur when changing any existing field type to a Date or Contact type. Dates should be in your local date format, so if you have a Date custom field for your locale that is mm/dd/yyyy, but you have existing dates like 1st Jan 2018, this will obviously not be compatible.

Similarly, if you have a checkbox type where multiple options are selected in your data and you change to a radio or drop-down select type then only the first checkbox option will be maintained when a contact is edited and saved and the other checkbox options will be removed.

To avoid loss of important information when changing existing custom field types you might find it helpful to first export your data to a CSV file. Go the module's Communication section and select the CSV export option for all contacts/children/groups (depending on the module). Make sure you select your custom fields in the CSV export options. This file will give you a permanent record that you can return to or use to help you update existing data that has field values in an incompatible format.

Having created custom fields be sure to click Save Changes before navigating away from the module's settings.

Using custom fields

When editing a person's profile in the Address Book or Children module the Custom Fields are now available to you for completion. Custom fields that are 'required' are distinguished by a red asterisk - you will not be able to save the pop-up until all the required fields, including custom fields, have valid entries.

Custom fields are also visible when viewing a person's profile page.

Custom fields are searchable when using the Advanced Search feature to search contacts or children.

Custom Fields can also be used as Smart Tags conditions to match people who have or don't have certain custom field options.

Custom field options can be assigned as Actions when processing people through Flows...

...and also used to filter Communication...

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