Notes and note visibility
In this article
Overview of notes
Adding Notes is easy and is a useful way of recording appropriate information against a contact, child or giver. Notes can also be added against events, small groups, ministries, bookings and plans. Notes never show in the member-facing My ChurchSuite; they are a function of the admin-facing system only and are therefore only ever visible to module users, not members.
By default, Notes are visible to All Users who have permission for the module and site to which the note has been added. However, it is possible to restrict note visibility; either to a specific 'group' of users (and the author) or to make the note private and visible only to the author. Notes are date and time stamped and clearly show who recorded or last edited the Notes.
From a person's profile page in the Address Book, Children or Giving module - or when viewing an event, ministry, small group, plan, booking or customer - you can add a note by typing directly in the Add note box.
Before saving a note, you can optionally restrict who the note is Visible to - either the default All Users (i.e. all Users with access to the module) or a more private, Just Me. It's also possible to restrict visibility to one or more User Groups (See the related support article for guidance on creating user groups). Finally, click Add note to save it.
It's possible to Pin important notes to the top of the list - pinned notes remain at the top of the list so that they're more easily seen, and they can be unpinned again if necessary. Once unpinned, the note takes its place back in the date order of other notes. Additionally, where changes are subsequently made to notes, a View changes option becomes available and a "Last edited" date and time stamp is added to the note.
Each module that supports Notes functionality includes a Notes report, which can be further filtered by note User and Visible to.
Public notes in ChurchSuite
By default, Notes are Visible to All Users of your admin-facing system (never to members). The Note is always linked to the User who made it, so everyone knows who wrote it. But what does 'All Users' mean? Essentially it means every other User with permission for the module in which the note was added.
What's useful about All User notes is that when communicating or dealing with people, all your team can work more collaboratively and stay on the same page pastorally, rather than sending inconsistent communications or not knowing the full picture. Using the Notes report, located in the Reports section of most modules, you can view all the notes made within that module - ideal for catching up on what's been happening after a period of absence or leave.
Private notes in ChurchSuite
Private Notes in ChurchSuite can only be seen by the user that wrote them. In other words, if a leader in your organisation adds a private note against an individual in the Address Book, other leaders (or indeed any other User) will not be able to see it and will not even know that a note has been made.
What's useful about private "Just me" Notes is that the Note stays confidential, so they can be used by a leader wishing to make notes that might contain sensitive information. Equally, it could just be that the user making the note just wishes to be reminded of something before the next time they contact a person!
To make a note private, change the Visible to option to Just Me.
Restricting the visibility of notes to user groups
In addition to private and public notes, you can also restrict visibility to one or more groups of users - User Groups - so that only a user who is a member of that user group can view, edit, delete or pin the note. For example, you might have a "Pastoral Bereavement Team" User Group who records sensitive notes that they wish to be visible only to other users who are in that pastoral user group.
When adding a note, in the Visible to drop-down list, a user will only see the User Groups that they belong to and User Groups that are visible to all users, but that they may not belong to.
Top Tip! Subject Access Requests
It may be helpful to create a dedicated User account for the sole purpose of data protection enquiries, such as Subject Access Requests. Then, assigning that User account to all your User Groups, this User account will always be able to report on all notes for all user groups in the event of a request for information.
Note, this method will not include any private notes set visible to "Just me"; this will require each of your users to provide you with a report of all their "Just me" notes. To clarify - for privacy, security and safeguarding - private notes that are set visible to "Just me" are always and only ever visible to the author - no other user or administrator can access those private notes.
Markdown support in notes
More advanced web users may already be familiar with Markdown notation, which is a text-to-HTML conversion language that allows you to type using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, and see it converted into structurally valid HTML. ChurchSuite supports the CommonMark format of Markdown.
Notes throughout ChurchSuite support Markdown notation, enabling you to add customised formatting to your otherwise plain text notes. Here's an example:
In this example, the emboldened blue note title, the emboldened "more info" and the unordered bullet list are all entered in Markdown notation. Here's what the original Markdown notation looks like:
Using the special characters of Markdown notation, you can therefore enhance your notes if you wish. Markdown notation allows the following customised content to be added to your Notes.
- Block quotes
- Bold, italics
- Lists - unordered (bullets) and ordered (numbered), and nested (indented)
A full list of CommonMark Markdown notations can be found here. Markdown support only extends to the Notes functionality outlined in this article, and not all CommonMark is supported by ChurchSuite. Rota notes and Service notes are "plain text" fields that store data differently and therefore do not support markdown.