Communicating to individuals and groups

In this article

Introduction to ChurchSuite's communication functionality
Communicating with contacts in your Address Book
Communicating with children and parents in the Children module
Communication within the Attendance module
Communication within the Calendar module
Communicating with group members in the Small Groups module
Communicating with ministry, rota and service members in the Rotas module
Communicating with givers in the Giving module
Communicating with customers in the Bookings module
Communication within the Planning module
Email open rate tracking
Using your own email client for ChurchSuite communications

Introduction to ChurchSuite's communication functionality

Being able to communicate with just the right individuals or groupings of people is at the centre of ChurchSuite's admin-facing system, which is why you'll see a Communicate button at the top of most pages and reports, enabling you to communicate with some or all of the people on that page or report wherever you are working.

Additionally, most modules have a Communication section enabling you to communicate with people within the context of that module. For example, in the Children module you can select to communicate with either individual children, children in tags or children in groups (and/or their parents); whereas in the Rotas module, you can select to communicate with members of ministries or those in particular teams or roles.

All Users are able to use ChurchSuite's communication functionality for each module and site they have permissions for. Bulk communications sent through ChurchSuite are always sent "blind copied". By default, ChurchSuite respects each recipient's Receive general emails/SMS communication settings.

It is possible, however, to override communication settings and send a message that disregards the "opted out" preferences of recipients - for example, where you have an overriding compelling reason or lawful basis to send a communication. When overriding communication settings in this way, the sending User is required to enter an override reason, which will be added to the footer of the email and will therefore be visible in the "sent" communications logs.

With the exception of system "confirmation" emails, all sent emails include an Unsubscribe link in the email footer, making it really easy for recipients to click to review their communication settings and opt in or out of your various communication methods. Recipients can also manage their communication settings in My ChurchSuite. See the related support article for information about customising the 'unsubscribe' experience of your church members.

Email attachments

You can attach files to emails. Attachments are uploaded using an in-built, secure third-party integration called Filestack that enables you to upload multiple files (one at a time) from your computer or device, Google Drive, OneDrive, Evernote or DropBox.

Important: Email attachments uploaded to Filestack are added to emails as embedded links, rather than being physically added to the email. This means that internet access is required to view the attachment. Filestack retains files uploaded from your computer/device for 24 months from the date of upload; file attachments will no longer be available on sent emails after this time. Attachments uploaded from Google Drive or Dropbox are not subject to this limitation and will remain active for as long as the files exist in your Google Drive or Dropbox storage.

Draft emails

When composing an email, the draft email is saved locally to your device, rather than as part of your browser session. This means that you can safely log out of ChurchSuite and log back in again and the email draft will be preserved in the "compose" pop-up for as long as you continue to use the same computer/device. The unsent draft email will persist until it is sent or the User selects the New document option to clear the email subject and body content, ready to compose a new message.

Email templates

When composing emails, you can choose between different email Templates. The default is Plain template - the email is sent in plain text, meaning that it is rendered on the recipient's device in the default font they have set.

There are also two branded templates:

  • Branded Header applies your organisation's Logo, Colour styling and Font to the email;
  • Branded Slimline is similar to the above but doesn't add the logo, instead adding a more subtle church emblem logo to the end of the email.

You can manage the Logo, Emblem, Colour styling and Font in the Profile section of the Administrator area. For further information, see the related support article on 'Personalising your ChurchSuite account'.

Restricting user communications

You can optionally restrict the maximum reach of a single communication made by a User. In the User's account in the  Administrator area, simply select Edit user and amend the Restricted communication setting (located just under the user's email signature), either to a Fixed number or as a Percentage of total active contacts within the Address Book. That same fixed amount or % is applied to any communications sent from within any module.

For example, setting a fixed value of 5 will limit all communication via SMS and email by that user to a maximum of 5 individuals. Setting a value of zero will prevent any communications being sent by email or SMS.

If a User attempts to send a communication in excess of the restriction, they'll be prevented from doing so and will be alerted to contact an Administrator for assistance. It's not possible for Administrators to override the restriction; however, they can change the User's restriction so that the User can complete the 'send' process or another User with less restriction can send the communication.

Improving email deliverability

For churches and other organisations that own and manage a domain name, we highly recommend reading the related support article Improving email delivery, which explains how to complete a domain verification process. The verification process authorises your ChurchSuite account to send outbound emails through ChurchSuite on behalf of your own domain; without this, emails will be sent through ChurchSuite's verified domain. Many domain hosts, like Mandrill (ChurchSuite's email handler), rely on domain verification for email security, to ensure that emails sent on behalf of your domain through ChurchSuite mail servers are not treated as "spoof" emails i.e. emails purporting to be from one domain (your domain's servers) but actually sent from another (ChurchSuite's servers). The verification process requires a little technical knowledge and involves adding two entries to the DNS settings for your domain.
Until domain verification has been completed, all emails sent through your ChurchSuite account will be sent through ChurchSuite's verified domain, rather than your own unverified domain; meaning that to the recipients, emails will show the Sender as subdomain+user-username.out.churchsuite.org. While the Reply to address of those messages will always show the sending User's actual email address, some email providers do not support "reply to", meaning that replies will not be delivered back to the sender's mailbox.
You can only verify a domain that you own and manage. Users sending from personal/public email addresses like Gmail and Hotmail cannot verify those domains. We therefore recommend customers provide all Users with email addresses that are part of a domain that you, the customer, manages. This obviously provides a more professional appearance; i.e., those communicating on behalf of your church/organisation are sending through a managed domain where there is a level of control over mailboxes, rather than emails being handled through a User's personal email account. Domain verification only needs to be done once for each email domain (not each mailbox) used by your Users.

In the remainder of this article we explore the ways a User might communicate from within each respective module in ChurchSuite.

Communicating with contacts in your Address Book

The Address Book module is the core repository for your adult contacts. Within the Address Book, menu options include Contacts, Flows, Tags, Key Dates, Communication and Reports.

1. From the Contacts menu, you can Communicate with any contact directly from their profile page.

From a contact's profile page you can also send individual My ChurchSuite emails - either a My ChurchSuite invite or a My ChurchSuite password reset.

2. You can communicate with contacts that have been assigned to Flows. When viewing a Flow, notice the Communication button at the start of each Flow stage, enabling you to communicate with all contacts in that stage.

3. You can communicate with all the contacts assigned to particular Tags. Tags allow you to create custom groupings of people within the Address Book - ideal for groups that don't fit naturally into the groups functionality provided in the Small Groups module or Ministry groups in the Rotas module. For example, you might group together all your leaders in a "Leader" Tag. To communicate with all contacts in a Tag, navigate to the Tags section within the Address Book, select a Tag and then use the Communicate button menu at the top of the Tag's "View" page. In this method, if an email address is shared by more than one tagged contact (e.g. husband and wife), a duplicate email is sent to each tagged contact.

4. As with Tags, you can also communicate with all contacts that have a particular Key Date. From the Key Dates section of the Address Book, select a Key Date and use the Communicate button menu at the top of the Key Date's "View" page.

5. In each of the above contexts, and from most Address Book reports, selecting Communication from a Communicate button menu (see above example) will open the Address Book module's Communication utility page and populate it with all the contacts shown on the sending page or report. The Communication utility page (shown below) can also be used to custom-select one or more contacts to communicate with. You can optionally filter the list of contacts further before selecting what you want to do with them - perhaps to produce Labels/Envelopes, send an SMS or Email, export to a CSV or PDF format file, send ongoing Consent emails or to bulk-send My ChurchSuite emails.

When using the Communication utility, notice how you can select individual contacts from the list or select all contacts - selected contacts move from the list on the left to the box on the right. Selected contacts can be removed. The Search by name/tag can be used to quickly locate contacts within a large Address Book - as you type in the search, the list auto-filters. Click the ? in the search box to see a full list of short cut commands available - for example, to search by tag, type tag: and all your tags will be listed - selecting a tag will select all the contacts in that tag.

Note also the drop-down selector to switch between a list of Contacts and Tags. In this way you can use the 'tick and cross' tag options to match across multiple tags, matching Any or All selected tags - remember to click Apply tags to select the matching contacts in those tags.

When sending emails using the Communication utility page, you have the option to Exclude duplicate email addresses - for example, if a husband and wife share the same email address and both are included in the email distribution, only one email per email address will be sent, while still logging the sent email against both. By default, ChurchSuite will Respect Communication settings; however, where you have a compelling or lawful basis, you are able to untick the box and override each recipient's "opted out of general email/SMS" communication settings, and send the message anyway.

6. Many Address Book reports include a Communicate button menu. Where Address Book contacts are listed in the report results, you'll have the option to communicate with the matching contacts being reported or you can "push" the list of viewed contacts through to the Communication utility for further communication or export options. Note also that you can send the report being viewed by email to a recipient of your choice although the recipient must be in your Address Book.

Viewing sent communications in the Address Book

Sent communications are logged in the Recent Activity > Communication section at the end of each contact's profile page. Clicking "+More" will open the sent communication in preview, show details of other recipients included in the distribution and show open rate tracking (emails only).

The Communication report in the Address Book module's Reports section (see below) provides a filterable report of all Address Book contact communications within a range of Dates, providing details of the User who sent the communication, the Method, the date and time it was sent or scheduled. Clicking +More will open the sent communication to view and show details of the recipients included in the distribution and show open rate tracking (emails only). Within this report only is a Forward email option, that enables a User to re-send a previously sent email (perhaps to re-send to different recipients), and the option to Cancel a scheduled email that has not yet been released from the queue.

From time to time you might want to send out an email or SMS of a private nature but still send it through ChurchSuite. Within the Communication report in the Address Book, Children and Giving modules is a Hide email action that allows you to hide an entry from the Recent Communication reports/sections so that your communication remains private. Once an email is hidden, it cannot be set visible again.

Communicating with children/parents in the Children module

The Children module is the core repository for children and young people, typically those under 18. Within the Children module, menu options include Children, Attendance, Groups, Flows, Tags, Key Dates, Communication and Reports.

Any time you communicate from within the Children module you will have the option to choose whether to communicate with the Child, the Parent (which is either the linked/primary parent contact, the unlinked child's parent contact or the child's additional contact) or all Parents (i.e. the linked partner/spouse of the child's primary parent in the Address Book).

Additional contact

When Send to Parent is selected, the person specified as the child's Additional Contact is also contacted - Additional Email and Additional Mobile carry the same weighting as a primary linked or unlinked parent. The Additional Email/Mobile fields are useful where you have an additional person who needs to be copied in on all parent communication for the child. For example, a parent who is no longer linked to their spouse/partner but has joint custody of their child and therefore may need to be copied into parent communication at an equal level as the child's primary parent.

In the example above, Amelia is linked to George as the primary Parent and has Alan as an Additional Contact. Send to Parent will send to George and Alan, while Send to all parents will send to George and Alan and also to any spouse/partner linked to George in the Address Book.

1. From the Children section, you can Communicate with any child or their parent(s) directly from a child's profile page.

2. From the Attendance section, you can communicate with all the children (or their parents) who attended a group on a particular date. Navigate to the appropriate group/date and then use the Communicate button menu at the top of the attendance page.

3. From the Groups section you can communicate with all children (or their parents) that are members of a particular children's group. Select a gathering/group and then use the Communicate button menu at the top of the group's "View" page.

4. You can communicate with children (or their parents) that have been assigned to Flows. When viewing a Flow, notice the Communication button at the start of each Flow stage, enabling you to communicate with all children (or their parents) in that stage.

5. You can communicate with all the children (or their parents) assigned to a particular Tag. Tags allow you to create custom groupings of children within the Children module that don't fit within the module's age-based groups functionality. For example, you might group together all the children (or their parents) who came to a Summer Camp. To communicate with all children in a Tag, navigate to the Tags section of the module, select a Tag and then use the Communicate button menu at the top of the Tag's "View" page.

6. As with Tags, you can also communicate with all children (or their parents) that have a particular Key Date. From the Key Dates section within the Children module, select a Key Date and use the Communicate button menu at the top of the Key Date's "View" page.

7. In each of the above contexts, and from most Children module reports, selecting Communication from a Communicate button menu (see above example) will open the Children module's Communication utility page and populate it with all the children shown on the sending page or report. The Communication utility page (shown below) can also be used to custom-select one or more children to communicate with. You can optionally filter the list of children further before selecting what you want to do with them - perhaps to produce Labels/Envelopes, send an SMS or Email, export to a CSV or PDF format file or send ongoing Consent emails.

When using the Communication utility, notice how you can select individual children from the list or select all children - selected children move from the list on the left to the box on the right. Selected children can be removed from the list. The Search by name/tag/group can be used to quickly locate children within a long list - as you type in the search, the list auto-filters. Click the ? in the search box to see a full list of short cut commands available - for example, to search by tag, type tag: and all your tags will be listed - selecting a tag will select all the children in that tag; to search by group, type group: and all your groups will be listed - selecting a group will select all children in that group.

Note also the drop-down selector to switch between viewing a list of children, groups and tags. In this way you can use the tick and cross tag options to match across multiple tags, matching Any or All selected tags - remember to click Apply tags to select the matching children in those tags.

8. Many Children reports include a Communicate button menu. Where children are listed in a report's results, you'll have the option to communicate with the matching children/parents being reported, or you can "push" the list of viewed children through to the Communication utility for further communication or export options. Note also that you can send the report being viewed by email to an Address Book contact.

Viewing sent communications in the Children module

All sent communications are logged in the Recent Activity > Communication log at the bottom of each child's profile page. Linked parent communications are logged against the linked parent(s) in the Address Book and Unlinked parent and Additional Contact communications are logged against the child. Clicking +More will open the sent communication in preview, show details of other recipients included in the distribution and show open rate tracking (emails only).

The Communication report in the Children module's Reports provides a filterable report of all child communications within a range of Dates, with details of the User who sent the communication, the Method and the date and time it was sent or scheduled. Clicking +More will open the sent communication in preview, show details of other recipients included in the distribution and show open rate tracking (emails only).

For emails, there is a Forward email option that allows you to re-send a previously sent email (perhaps to re-send to different recipients) and the option to Cancel a scheduled email that has not yet been released from the queue.

From time to time you might want to send out an email or SMS of a private nature but still send it through ChurchSuite. Within the Communication report in the Address Book, Children and Giving modules is a Hide email action that allows you to hide an entry from the Recent Communication reports/sections so that your communication remains private. Once an email is hidden, it cannot be set visible again.

Communication within the Attendance module

The Attendance module is where you can track metrics for attendance, perhaps for your weekend services. Within the Attendance module, menu options include Dates, Categories and Reports.

As this module is primarily about metrics rather than people, there is very little communication functionality, except within the Reports section where some reports can be sent to an Address Book contact. However, if you have the Service attendance record feature enabled in the Attendance module's settings, the module can be used to take an attendance record at weekend services. It is then possible to communicate with Address Book contacts (not children) based on their attendance on a particular date. A Communication menu is added within the module when this optional feature is enabled in the module's settings.

Note: The attendance record feature in this module can only be used for adult contacts - child attendance is recorded separately in the Children module using the children's group attendance functionality or the child check-in system in Connect.

1. Working within the Dates section, navigating to and selecting the Service data for a date, there is a Communicate button menu enabling Users to communicate with Address Book contacts recorded as attending on that date.

2. From the module's Communication utility page you can communicate with Address Book contacts recorded as being in attendance at any one of All Services or Individual Services.

3. Some Attendance module Reports include a Send Report option, enabling you to email the report to an Address Book contact. Additionally, the Attendance Averages report provides the option to Communicate with Address Book contacts grouped by their average service attendance data within a range of dates.

All communication sent from within the Attendance module is logged in the Recent Activity > Communication log on the profile page of the respective contacts in your Address Book and in the Address Book module's Communication report.

Communication within the Calendar module

The Calendar module is used for managing events rather than people, and therefore doesn't have its own Communication menu. However, within the module you can still communicate with those engaging in your events - sending event invitations and communicating with sign-ups and check-ins on an event-by-event basis.

So, for example, from an event's "View" page in the module, on the Invites tab for an event (only visible when an event invite has been sent to at least one person), the Communicate button can be used to communicate with Address Book and/or Children module invitees based on their accept/decline/engagement status...

...and on the Sign-Ups tab for an event, the Communicate button menu can be used to communicate with event sign-ups, optionally filtering by ticket type, by those in your ChurchSuite database or not, or those who signed up within a range of dates. Where there have been event check-ins, you can also filter those who have checked in and those who did not attend your event...

Similarly, on the event Check-Ins tab (only visible where there is at least one check-in), the Communicate button menu can be used to communicate with those who attended the event, and you can filter those in your ChurchSuite database (or not).

All Calendar module communications by Users to invitees, sign-ups, refunds and check-ins are recorded against the event's communication log in the Recent activity > Communication section at the end of the event page; and for contacts and children in ChurchSuite, communications are also recorded in the Communication log on each person's profile page in the Recent Activity > Communication section. Note that event sign-up confirmation emails and event overseer notification emails are not logged.

Communicating with group members in the Small Groups module

The Small Groups module is the core repository for your small groups, typically house groups, cell group, life groups, connect groups etc. Within the Small Groups module, menu options include Groups, Attendance, Roles, Tags, Clusters (module option), Communication and Reports.

In this section

How to communicate with small group members
How to communicate with small group roles
How to communicate with small group clusters
How to communicate by small group tags
How to communicate with small group members within My ChurchSuite

How to communicate with small group members

1. From the Groups section you can communicate with all group members directly from a group's "View" page - simply select from the Communicate button menu at the top of the group page. Note also the Send flyer option, which can be useful for sending a promotional flyer for one or more small groups to prospective group members.

2. In the above method, and from most Small Groups reports, selecting Communication from a Communicate button menu will open the Small Groups module's Communication utility page and populate it with all the group members shown on the sending page or report. The Communication utility page (shown below) can also be used to custom-select one or more Groups, Clusters or group Tags to communicate with and enables you to select whether you wish to communicate with All Members of the group or By Role. You can then select what you want to do with those selected - perhaps to produce Labels/Envelopes, send an SMS or Email, export to a CSV format file or to bulk-send My ChurchSuite emails to group members.

Notice the drop-down list to switch between communicating with Groups, Clusters or group Tags. As you type in the Search the list auto-filters. Click the ? in the search box to see a full list of short cut commands available - for example, to search by group tag, type tag: and all group tags will be listed - selecting a tag will select all the groups in that tag.

Scrolling down the communication utility page further you can now select whether to communicate with All Members or By Role to just those in particular active roles within the selected groups...

...and finally, how you want to communicate.

How to communicate with small group roles

It's sometimes helpful to be able to communicate with people who are no longer active in their role - perhaps past small group leaders; or perhaps, having set up your small groups for the next term, you want to communicate with those "future group" leaders. In addition to the method outlined in the previous section to communicate with active group members and those an active role, you can also communicate with group members in archived, active and future roles.

From the Roles section of the Small Groups module, select a role from the list e.g. "Leader". Use the Group Status filter to switch between role-holders in Past, Active or Future groups and click Update to apply the filter.

You can then use the Communicate button at the top of the role "View" page to send an email or SMS.

How to communicate with small group clusters

Clusters are an optional feature of the Small Groups module for churches that provide small group oversight for "groupings" of groups. Clusters functionality must first be enabled in the module's settings in order for the Clusters menu to be visible within the Small Groups module.

To communicate with Clusters head to to the Communication utility page in the Small Groups module ("Small Groups" > "Communication"). In the section titled Select the groups you wish to communicate with, select to communicate by Clusters and then select one or more clusters to communicate with.

Scroll down to the next section titled Select the members you wish to communicate with and select between communicating with All Members (i.e. all group members in the selected clusters) or By Role (i.e. just members in the selected clusters who have the selected roles). Use the Add and Remove buttons to select or deselect roles as required - note also the role of "--Cluster Overseer--".

Finally, scroll to the final section Choose what you want to do with them and select between the communication types available e.g. produce Labels/Envelopes, Send an Email or SMS, export to a CSV format file or send My ChurchSuite emails.

How to communicate by small group tags

A further way to create groupings of small groups is by using group Tags. Once groups are tagged, those group tags can be used to filter reports and also to communicate with those in groups within group tags.

To communicate with groups within group tags go to to the Communication utility page in the Small Groups module ("Small Groups" > "Communication"). In the first section titled Select the groups you wish to communicate with, select to communicate by Tags and select one or more tags to communicate with.

As with Groups and Clusters, scroll down to the next section Select the members you wish to communicate with and select between communicating with All Members (i.e. all group members in the selected group tags) or By Role (i.e. those members in tagged groups who have the selected roles). Use the Add and Remove buttons to select or deselect roles as required.

Finally, scroll to the final section Choose what you want to do with them and select between the communication types available e.g. produce Labels/Envelopes, Send an Email or SMS, export to a CSV format file or send My ChurchSuite emails.

How to communicate with small group members within My ChurchSuite

Included in the My Groups section of the member-facing My ChurchSuite is a really useful Group Email feature that allows small group members to easily communicate with all the other members of their group - ideal for circulating prayer requests and changes of meeting venue.

From the My Groups menu item, select any group that you are a member of - notice the Email button in the top right hand corner.

Each small group in your account has its own unique group email address assigned by ChurchSuite when the small group is first created within the Small Groups module.

This email address can be used by active group members to communicate with one another - it's a closed group email, meaning that only current, active group members can use it. Anyone not in the group is unable to use the email address and will receive a bounced email message if attempting to send to the group's email address. Group emails are delivered to the personal email address of each group member and the sender and recipients can view the email in the My Communication section of My ChurchSuite or in their preferred desktop email client.

When composing a group email, authors have the option to choose whether replies go just to the author ( Just me, the default) or are copied to the author and all other group members. This is great for differentiating between prayer requests (where replies and updates could go to the whole group if you wish), and those bespoke emails where you just want replies to go to you (for example, you're having a group social and you want to know people's food choices - the whole group doesn't need to know that one of the group members doesn't like potato salad!)

Currently it is not possible to send email attachments from within My ChurchSuite; although attachments can be added if group members email from their regular desktop email client to the group email address. It is also not possible to filter emails to just particular group members or just the leaders.

Group emails are closed group messages and are therefore not logged or visible within the admin-facing ChurchSuite - they are only viewable to the sender and recipient group members in their My Communications section within My ChurchSuite.

Group emails are sent to all group members with an active or pending group member status. However only active and visible group members can send a group email - group members with a pending status are unable to send group emails or view the group member list until they have been set active by the group leader in My ChurchSuite or by a user in ChurchSuite. Similarly, group members who have set their privacy settings such that they are not visible to the rest of the group are also unable to send group emails.

Communicating with ministry and rota members in the Rotas module

The Rotas module is the core repository for your rotas and the underlying ministries and serving team members. Within the Rotas module, menu options include Rotas, Services, Ministries, Roles, Unavailability (module option), Communication and Reports. Sent communications from within the Rotas module are logged against each serving ministry or rota member's profile page in the Address Book and Children modules and can also be viewed and reported using the Communication report in the Address Book and Children modules respectively.

In this section

How to communicate with ministry members
How to communicate with rota members
How to communicate with rota members for a service
How to communicate with people in roles
How to communicate with rota members in My ChurchSuite

How to communicate with ministry members

1. From the Ministries menu within the Rotas module, you can communicate with all ministry members directly from a ministry page - simply select from the Communicate button menu at the top of the page.

Sent communications to a ministry are logged in the Recent Activity > Communication section at the bottom of the Ministry's "View" page and also in the Recent Activity > Communication section at the bottom of each ministry member's profile within the Address Book or Children modules.

2. From most Rotas module reports, selecting Communication from a Communicate button menu will open the Rota module's Communication utility page (see below) and populate it with all the ministry members shown on the sending page or report.

The Communication utility page (shown below) can also be used to custom-select to communicate with one or more Ministries or Teams within a ministry.

Scrolling down the Communication utility page you can then select whether you are communicating with all ministry/team members or By Role.

And then finally, you can select what you want to do with them - perhaps to produce Labels/Envelopes, send an SMS or Email, export to a CSV format file or bulk-send My ChurchSuite emails.

How to communicate with rota members

While Ministries are the core repository for your regular serving team members for each ministry, the actual rotas for those ministries may well include additional ad hoc people who are not ministry members but have been added to a rota to fill a gap/need, cover an absence or boost a team for a particular date on the rota. It's therefore sometimes helpful to communicate with rota members so that those ad hoc volunteers are included in your communications; perhaps when sending out a rota.

From the Rotas menu within the Rotas module, you can communicate with all rota members directly from a rota's "View" page - simply select from the Communicate button menu at the top of the page.

From here you can Send email or Send SMS, or use the Send rota option to include the rota in the body content of the email. Sent communications by Users are logged in the Recent Activity > Communication log at the bottom of the rota page, and also in the Recent Activity > Communication section at the bottom of each rota member's profile within the Address Book or Children module.

How to communicate with rota members for a service

Rotas can be grouped together for a Service. It's easy to communicate with all rota members for a service, perhaps to let them all know about an important last minute change to an upcoming service that may affect people from a range of rotas.

From the Services section within the Rotas module, you can communicate with all service members directly from a service "View" page - simply select from the Communicate button menu at the top of the page.

How to communicate with people in roles

It's sometimes helpful to be able to communicate with serving ministry members based on their role - perhaps to reach out to all your worship leaders for their availability for an upcoming event. Therefore, in addition to the method outlined above using the Communication utility page in the Rotas module, you can also communicate with ministry members in certain roles directly from the Role page.

From Roles section of the Rotas module select a role, e.g. Worship Leader, and then click the Communicate button at the top of the role "View" page to send an email or SMS to all ministry members in that role.

If you wish to communicate with ministry overseers, use the module's Communication utility page to select your Ministries or Teams and By Role . Notice the "--Ministry Overseer--" role.

How to communicate with rota members in My ChurchSuite

Included in the My Rotas section of My ChurchSuite is a rota Group Email feature that enables rota members to easily communicate with all the other members of their rota - ideal for circulating prayer requests, rota swap requests and passing on important information to fellow serving team members.

From the My Rotas section, select a rota that you are a member of. Notice the Email button in the top right hand corner.

Each rota in your account has its own unique rota group email address assigned by ChurchSuite when the rota is created within the Rotas module.

This email address can be used by members of the rota to communicate with one another - it's a closed group email, meaning that only current, active rota members can use it. Anyone not on the rota or in the underlying ministry is unable to use that email address and will receive a bounced email message if they attempt to send an email to group email address. Rota group emails are delivered to the personal email address of each rota member and the sender and recipients can view the email in the My Communication section of My ChurchSuite or in their preferred desktop email client.

When composing a rota email, authors have the option to choose whether replies go just to the author ( Just me, the default) or are copied to all other rota members. This is great for differentiating between prayer requests (where replies and updates may go to the whole group) and those bespoke emails like swap requests where you just want replies to go to you, the sender.

Currently it is not possible to send email attachments from within My ChurchSuite; although attachments can be added if rota members compose the email using their regular desktop email client and send to the rota group email address. It is also not currently possible to filter emails to just particular rota members, holders of certain roles, those in particular teams or those serving on a particular date.

Ministry overseers have the identical rota group email as outlined above, with the additional option of being able to append the rota to the email.

Rota group emails are closed group messages and are therefore not logged or visible within the admin-facing ChurchSuite. They are only viewable to the sender and recipient rota members in their My Communications section within My ChurchSuite.

Communicating with givers in the Giving module

The Giving module is the core repository for your givers. Within the Giving module, menu options include Givers, Donations, Batches, Claims (UK only), Funds, Flows, Tags, Communication and Reports. Givers may be linked to an Address Book contact or be unlinked givers who only exist as givers in your Giving module. For confidentiality, all communication with givers (linked and unlinked) is maintained in communication logs of the giver's profile page (not in their Address Book profiles).

1. From the Givers section you can Communicate with a giver directly from their giver profile page - simply select to send an email or SMS, or to send a statement of their donations.

2. You can communicate with all the givers assigned to a particular Giver Tag. Giver Tags allow you to create custom groupings of givers within the Giving module only. For example, you might group together all the "Building Project" givers into a "Building Project Supporters" tag. To communicate with all givers in a tag, navigate from the Tags section within the Giving module, select a Tag and then use the Communicate button menu at the top of the tag's "View" page.

3. In the above Tags context, and from most Giving module reports, selecting Communication from a Communicate button menu will open the Giving module's Communication utility page and populate it with all the givers shown on the sending page or report. The Communication utility page (shown below) can also be used to custom-select one or more givers to communicate with. Having selected which givers you want to communicate with, you then select what you want to do with them - perhaps to produce Labels/Envelopes, send an Email or SMS or export to a CSV format file.

When using the Communications utility, notice how you can select individual givers from the list or select all givers - selected givers move from the list on the left to the box on the right. Selected givers can be removed from the recipient list too. The Search by name/tag can be used to quickly locate givers within a long list - click the ? in the search box to see a full list of short cut commands available - for example, to search by tag, type tag: and all your giver tags will be listed - selecting a tag will select all the givers in that tag.

Note also the drop-down selector to switch between viewing a list of Givers and Tags. In this way you can use the tick and cross tag options to match across multiple tags, matching Any or All selected tags - remember to click Apply tags to select the matching givers in those tags.

4. Many Giving module reports include a Communicate button menu. Where givers are listed in a report's results you'll have the option to communicate with the matching givers being reported or you can "push" the list of viewed givers through to the module's Communication utility page for further communication or export options. Note also that you can send the report being viewed by email to any Address Book contact.

Viewing sent communications in the Giving module

Sent communications are logged in the Recent Activity > Communication section at the end of each giver's profile page. Clicking "+More" will open the sent communication in preview, show details of other recipients included in the distribution and show open rate tracking (emails only).

The Communication report in the Giving module reports (see below) provides a filterable report of all Giving module communications within a given date range, providing details of the User who sent the communication, the method, the date and time it was sent or scheduled. Clicking +More will open the sent communication in preview, show details of other recipients included in the distribution and show open rate tracking (emails only).

From time to time you might want to send out an email or SMS of a private nature but still send it through ChurchSuite. Within the Communication report in the Address Book, Children and Giving modules is a Hide email action that allows you to hide an entry from the Recent Communication reports/sections so that your communication remains private. Once an email is hidden, it cannot be set visible again.

Communicating with customers in the Bookings module

The Bookings module is the core repository for your resource bookings and customers. Within the Bookings module, menu options include Planner, Bookings, Customers, Flows, Resources, Types, Communication and Reports.

Navigating to any booking within the module, you can click to communicate with the booking customer (or the Address Book contact assigned to the booking) from the booking's "View" page. From the Communicate button menu you can send an email or SMS, or email the booking confirmation.

From a Customers menu in the Bookings module, you can click to communicate with a booking customer. Use the Communicate button menu at the top of the customer page to send an email or SMS.

And finally, from the Communication utility page in the Bookings module you can custom-select one or more customers to communicate with, before selecting what you want to do with them - perhaps to produce Labels/Envelopes, send an Email or SMS, export to a CSV format file.

When using the Communication utility, notice how you can select individual customers from the list or select all customers - selected customers move from the list on the left to the box on the right. Selected customers can also be removed. The Search by name/company can be used to quickly locate customers or companies within long lists - click the ? in the search box to see a full list of short cut commands available - for example, to search by company, type company: and all your companies will be listed - selecting a company will select all the customers in that company.

Communication within the Planning module

The Planning module is the core repository for your Plans for services, events and bookings. Within the Planning module, menu options include Plans, Library, Templates, Types and Reports.

Navigating to any Plan "View" page within the Plans section of the module, you can click to communicate with the plan's people from the Plan "View" page. From the Communicate button menu you can Send email or Send SMS, or Send the plan to the plan members.

By default the Recipients list will include all fixed plan people and those linked by criteria. You can add further recipients too - click Add recipient.

Email open rate tracking

The admin-facing ChurchSuite system includes the ability to track when a sent email has been opened. When sending emails, it's helpful to know that your message has been received and sometimes it's beneficial to know if a specific recipient has seen your message. With email open tracking, you can see both an overview of the open rate percentage and, by clicking on the open rate percentage, you're able to see which recipients have opened the email and when.

Support email clients

Note that not all email clients support open tracking - email clients (e.g. Outlook, Hotmail) that have images in emails disabled by default can't be tracked. Where ChurchSuite hasn't been able to track an email as being opened, it will be listed as "Unknown", although it may in fact have been opened! You should therefore take you open rates as a broad indicator, rather than use them to mean that people are not opening your emails.

Using your own email client for ChurchSuite communications

We've worked hard to make emailing out through ChurchSuite as intuitive, simple and effective as possible. Sometimes though, users prefer to use their familiar desktop email applications and the additional functionality they can offer or the nature of the communication is private and does not need to be logged in ChurchSuite's communication. ChurchSuite makes it really easy to pull the email distribution lists your create through ChurchSuite communications into a number of common desktop email clients. Here are a couple of useful features to help you. There are two ways you might wish to use your external email client: -

1. By clicking on any email address in ChurchSuite

Clicking on any email address on a person's profile within ChurchSuite will open your default email application on your device and populate a new email message with the recipient's email address. From there you can take advantage of any formatting or styling options included in your email application. Please note that recipient email address is populated in the "To" field and is not 'Blind Copied" by default in the same way they are in ChurchSuite communications. If you are emailing multiple recipients in the same message, you may prefer to copy and paste the addresses from the "To" field into the "Bcc field" to maintain privacy. Note also that communications outside of ChurchSuite will not respect communication options, so you should make sure you have a lawful basis for sending the communication outside of ChurchSuite.

2. By using the "Send via email application" tool

Ordinarily when you use ChurchSuite's communication functionality to send an email, you choose your distribution list (perhaps from a Tag or from a report) and then the ChurchSuite "Send email" editor is displayed (see example below).

As an alternative to using this editor, click Cancel. Your screen now shows the email distribution list you had selected. Note the Send via email application button and the drop-down menu option to Format for.

Here you can select from a choice of popular desktop email clients. Clicking Send via email application will open the default email application for your device and populate the email distribution list into the "To" field of a new blank email (formatted based on the "format for" selection made). Make sure you select the correct format so that your addresses will always pull through to your email application correctly and with the required formatting.

Important - Privacy

Please note that when using you own email application, recipient email addresses are populated in the "To" field of your email client; they are not 'Blind Copied" as they would be in ChurchSuite's communications functionality. If you are emailing multiple recipients in the same message, we recommend that you cut and paste the email addresses from the "To" field into the "Bcc" field in order to maintain privacy when sending your email message.

Important - Communication Logs

Please note that communications made through either of the above two methods, using an external email application, will not be recorded within ChurchSuite's communication logs, reports or within a member's My ChurchSuite communication history. If you wish to make use of ChurchSuite's communications logging functionality, you would need to use ChurchSuite's "Send email" Editor.

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