Adding custom fields
In this article
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 may 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 maybe your organisation maintain 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, Children and Small Groups modules.
You can select from a variety of data formats - single sentence (free text), paragraph (free text), drop-down list (only one option from the list can be selected), radio list (one option must be selected from the list, but can exist with no value selected when a contact is created; but once a value is selected you can only toggle between values and never reset to no value selected), checkbox list (select none, one or multiple options) and dates (in your local regional date format). And within the Address Book module only, you can also create custom fields that link to another Address Book contact - ideal for storing a contact's spiritual mentor or primary pastoral care contact, for example.
You can create up to 10 custom fields within each module. The process of adding custom fields is the same in all three modules. All custom fields can optionally be 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 for the Connect 'My Details' and Address Book Embed 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 identify 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 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 have that custom field option set. When a ChurchSuite user is editing a person's profile in the Address Book you'll experience a validation error message when attempting to save the profile unless you set the "required" custom field option before saving.
Similarly, existing members editing their details in My ChurchSuite will need to complete a missing "required" custom field before they can save their profile. For this reason "required" custom field are always editable in My ChurchSuite because a missing field value always needs to be completed. "Required" custom fields are therefore not suitable for internal-use fields that you do not want your members to be able to edit in My ChurchSuite e.g. Electoral Roll, Membership Status. While you can certainly use the Batch Update option of a required field to assign a default value to all your existing contacts, you should then remove the "Required" flag to ensure the field is not editable by your members 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 and set a "required" custom field to not be visible or editable on the form.
When setting a Custom Field as Required the Batch Update button becomes visible...
Batch Update enables you to assign a default custom field value to all existing people in the module where they do not yet have any value assigned - those with existing values will not be affected by a batch update. In this example, a new 'required' member status custom field has been added. All existing people will have no value assigned - they are neither member or non-member. The 'batch update' can be used to assigned a member or non-member value to every person. For example, if you assign a 'member' value you'll need to manually assign the 'non-member' values later. It's not possible to selectively batch assign required field values. If any existing people do already have a 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 in red - you will not be able to save a person's profile 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...
Creating custom fields in the Small Groups module
While custom fields in the Address Book and Children modules are for people, you can also create custom fields in the Small Groups module for groups. For example you might have a custom field to each group's focus or suitability for newcomers.
Creating custom fields for small groups works in the same way as the Address Book. Head into the Small Groups module's settings - accessed via the cogwheels icon in the top-right corner of the module - and locate the Custom Fields section on the Module Options tab.
Add new custom fields by giving the field a suitable Name and select a field Type from the drop-down list. Depending on the 'type' selected, set Options as appropriate. You can also optionally set a custom field as Required.
Save your changes before leaving the Small Group module options page.
Custom fields are editable on each small group's Edit page in the Small Groups module.
Custom field options are then shown on each group's View page within ChurchSuite.