Event invitations

ChurchSuite's event invitation feature enables Calendar module Users to send an email invitation for an event and track who has opened the email, which people have accepted or declined, and who is yet to respond. The user experience for invitation recipients makes engaging with your events simple and intuitive - often with just a single button click.

In this article

Getting started
Preparing the recipient list
Sending event invitations
Receiving event invitations
Accepting event invitations
Declining event invitations
Selecting the "More Information" response
Managing event invitations within ChurchSuite

Getting started - check the event's settings

Recognising that you sometimes want to create "invite-only" events that are not publicly-visible or open for general sign-up, event invites are not dependent on an event's Visibility settings - invitees can accept/decline an invitation even if the event is not visible in My ChurchSuite, Embed or Connect, like this example below - this would be an "invite-only" event.

However, you can also use event sign-up for targeted audiences and still have the event visible and open to sign-up by a wider audience in My ChurchSuite, Embed or Connect. This might be helpful for a discipleship course where you have some potential guests in mind - to whom you'll send an event invitation - but where others, outside of the invitation list, can also view the event and sign-up if they wish. In the following example, the event is visible in My ChurchSuite, Embed and Connect, and people can sign up through My ChurchSuite and Embed (and Connect), but they can also sign up through an event invitation they've received.

ChurchSuite will match sign-up details against invitees to keep everything up to date, so you'll always be able to see which invitees have signed up, even if they respond outside of the invitation email, perhaps via your website if the event is also visible there.

The Send invite button (shown below) is only visible on an event's "View" page if either Sign up through Event page, Sign up though My ChurchSuite or Sign up through Embed is enabled (see previous image) - you cannot invite people to accept and invite (and in doing so, sign them up for the event) if sign-up is not enabled.

Having reviewed the event's settings, you can now move on to preparing the recipient list.

Preparing the recipient list

When sending event invitations (in the next section), you'll select the recipients to whom the invite is to be sent. Invites can only be sent to those in your ChurchSuite database. You can add recipients individually - searching and selecting each recipient name one at a time, or you can add groupings of recipients by using a Tag. With this in mind it may be helpful to pre-prepare a recipient list Tag.

See the related support article for creating Fixed and Smart Tags, and how they can be used to group people together within the Address Book or Children modules.

Once you have prepared your recipient list, continue to the next section to send the event invites.

Intended functionality - child event invites

The workflow of sending invitations involves the system generating a unique email for each recipient for an event. Embedded into the email, behind the Accept, Decline and More Information buttons, are personal links representing the sign-up details of each recipient - those details are used to pre-populate the event's sign-up page, enabling invitations and responses to be tracked for each recipient - either adding a sign-up for a recipient who clicks Accept, or recording a Decline response reason against their invitation.

With this workflow in mind, you can see that it's therefore not possible to send an invite to a recipient parent email while tracking responses for one of their linked children - the system has no way of detecting which of the parent's children the invite response relates to, or whether the invitee is in fact the parent!

Therefore, if you wish to send event invites to a parent email address, but have the system track responses for one of their linked children, you must first add the parent email address to the child recipient's email field and send the invite to the child (which will deliver to the parent email address). The Send invite workflow in the Calendar module does not have a concept of Send to parent(s) like the Children module; and neither is it possible to send event invites from outside of the Calendar module.

Sending event invitations

From the event's "View" page within the Calendar module, click Send invite, at the top of the event's page. You can only send invitations for future events, or for sequence events that still have future dates left in the sequence.

On the Send invite pop-up you can now select the Options to be included in the invitation email. Further customisation is also possible later in the process when the draft invitation is being previewed, prior to sending. If the event has multiple ticket types, select which tickets are to be made available to your invitees. For events with "pay" tickets, ensure the tickets are added and set active on the event before sending invitations; otherwise if people "Accept" the invitation, they will be signed up for the event without a ticket, meaning that no payment will be processed!

Click Proceed to see the draft invitation email. The Send email pop-up is displayed, branded based on the event's Category, with the email Subject and body content pre-filled based on the Options you chose in the last step. The email can be further customised prior to sending if you wish. Click Preview Email to see the final email preview and select the invitees.

Creating Preset email invites

While ChurchSuite will automatically create a correctly-formatted event invite email, it's also possible to create your own Preset event invites styled to your own layout and content. You must still initiate the Send invite workflow from the event's "View" page, but when previewing the invite, you can select your own previously-prepared invite from the Preset Email drop-down list.

A Preset event invite can contain any text or custom body content, however the invite must include the merge field ::invite_rsvp:: within the email body - you will not be able to preview and send the invite if this merge field is absent from the email body content.

You can also use ::invite_accept::, ::invite_decline:: and ::invite_information:: as unique merge field links - perhaps to style your own buttons within a Preset event invite - but all 3 buttons must be included in the Preset invite body content in order to preview and send the invitation. For example, it's not possible to send an event invite with only an "Accept" button.

The final email is then previewed - click Back or Back to edit to make further changes, or click Cancel to abort and start again. The email preview (below) also includes the "Accept/Decline/More details" buttons within the email body - these are disabled in the preview until the email is actually sent.

You can now add Recipients - the invitees - either searching and adding names individually, or by searching by Address Book or Children tags (see previous section in this article for preparing a "recipients" Tag), which will add all tagged contacts or children to the recipients list. You can send multiple invites to different groupings, so don't worry if you don't create your full recipient list at this stage.

Invitees without an email address, and those who have 'opted out' of general emails, are clearly distinguished in the Recipients list. While no invitation will be sent to those people, they will still be added to the invited list for the event, but you may prefer to manually remove those invitee recipients before sending. There must be at least one "opted in" recipient with an email address in order for the Send Email button to become active.

Once you are ready to proceed, click Send Email and the invites will be sent. The sent invitation email is recorded in the event's Communication log, and also in each invitee's communication log.

An Invites tab is added to the event's "View" page - displayed in the same block as the Sign-Ups, Refunds and Check-Ins tabs (although these other tabs may not yet be visible if there aren't any refunds or check-ins).

If an invitee has already signed up for the event then the invite is listed an Accepted status (and their sign-up is listed on the Sign-Ups tab), otherwise invitees are listed with a Pending status until they begin responding. Invites for those without an email and those opted out are listed with a Not Sent status.

In the next section we look at the user experience of an invitee who receives an event invite.

Receiving event invitations

In addition to the email subject and body content about your event, the event invitation contains three 'action' buttons - Accept, Decline and More information. The actions performed by these buttons when clicked by the recipient is dependent on the event settings - whether there are tickets, multiple tickets, event questions, and whether the event is a free event or a pay event.

For events that are set as Visible in My ChurchSuite and where Sign up through My ChurchSuite is enabled for the event, invitees will also see invitations awaiting a response in the My Events section of My ChurchSuite.

...and, if the event is Visible in My ChurchSuite, on the actual event's page within My Events.

The Accept and Decline buttons in My ChurchSuite work in exactly the same way as the buttons embedded in the event invite email, and are covered in the next sections of this article.

Accepting event invitations

If there are no event questions and no tickets for the event (or a single free ticket), the invitee is taken through to the Event Page where they will be automatically signed up. If their linked spouse/partner is also invited and their status is also 'pending', they will have the option to respond on their spouse/partner's behalf. In the example below, Mary has clicked "Accept", so her sign-up is immediately shown as successful with no further action required. However, she also has the opportunity to respond on behalf of her spouse/partner - clicking Accept invitation will sign up Jonathan - clicking Decline invitation will provide an opportunity for Mary to to give a decline 'comment' on Jonathan's behalf.

If the event has questions, or there are multiple tickets (free or paid), the invitee is also taken through to the Event Page where the invitee's contact details are pre-filled into the sign-up form. If a linked spouse/partner is also invited and their status is 'pending', they'll be asked if they wish to respond on behalf of their spouse/partner, which will create an additional ticket for them with their details also pre-populated into the same sign-up form. The invitee can then answer any event questions and/or select their ticket/s (and pay, if the event is a 'pay' event).

Once the sign-up is confirmed, the invitee's status within ChurchSuite will update from Pending to Accepted. Any linked spouse response will also update within ChurchSuite. If an invitee accepts a previously declined invitation, the status within ChurchSuite will update from Declined to Accepted. Note, however, that it's not possible for an invitee to accept an invite after the event sign-up period has closed, although this can still be done by a User within the Calendar module.

If the event is visible, for example in your website, and an invitee chooses to sign-up manually, rather than using response buttons in the invite email, ChurchSuite will still match that sign-up against the invite list (as long as contact details match), and the invite status will be updated from Pending to Accepted.

Each Accepted response creates a sign-up on the Sign-Ups tab of the event...

...and the response progress indicator on the Invites tab updates accordingly.

To complete the user experience, a sign-up confirmation email is sent to signup (and to the linked spouse/partner if they are invited and accepted too). Finally, a sign-up notification is sent to the event overseer(s) if the Notify signups option is enabled in the event's settings.

Declining event invitations

When an invitee clicks Decline their invite status is immediately updated in ChurchSuite to Declined, with no further action required by the invitee. A message is displayed to the invitee confirming that the invitation has been declined, allowing them to select a 'canned' decline reason, or to enter a custom "Other" comment about why they're declining. At this point the invitee can reverse their decline action - perhaps if the clicked 'decline' by mistake - by clicking Didn't mean to decline? Click here to undo, which will set the invitation status within ChurchSuite back to Pending and clear any previously made decline comments. The invitee is then redirected back to the event page where they can sign-up.

An invitee can also decline on behalf of their linked spouse/partner if they too are invited and their invite status is still Pending. If the linked spouse/partner has previously accepted, they cannot subsequently decline their spouse's invitation. If the linked spouse/partner has previously declined, they can undo that decline and accept their spouse/partner's invitation.

In this example below, the invitee has successfully declined their own invitation by clicking the Decline response button. They now have the option to add a response reason, and they can also accept or decline on behalf of their linked spouse/partner who is also invited.

Invitees cannot subsequently decline an invitation that has been accepted. In this scenario, and since refunds may be involved, the invitee will need to contact the event organiser, who can manually decline the invitation on the event's "View" page within the Calendar module.

An invitee is always able to decline (but not accept) an event invite, even after the event sign-up period has closed.

Selecting the "More information" response

When an invitee clicks the More Information button they are redirected to the Event Page where they can read further information about the event. Their contact details are pre-populated into the sign-up form, but they will need to click Confirm in order to complete the sign-up. If the invitee's spouse/partner is also invited and their invite status is still pending, they will have the option to respond on behalf of their spouse/partner.

If the invitee has previously accepted or declined the invitation, the "More information" button will continue to open the Event Page so they can read the full event details. They can also still undo a previous Decline, or add a comment to their decline (but not add further comments once the decline comments have been submitted).

Managing event invitations within ChurchSuite

Users with manage permissions for the Calendar module can manually process event invite response on behalf of invitees, for example, where the invitee doesn't have access to a computer to respond. Users can manually accept and decline invitations, and set an invitation's status back to Pending (which will also delete any associated accepted event sign-up, or any declined comments). Sign-ups with a paid ticket must first be refunded before the invite status can be manually declined or set pending.

If a user manually adds a sign-up, ChurchSuite will attempt to match the sign-up to the invites list, and if matched, the invitation status will change to accepted. It's not possible to manually change an invite's status to 'accepted' without also adding the sign-up - a sign-up is always present for an 'accepted' invitation.

A simple progress indicator bar on the Invites tab shows the invite response with three metrics - Accepted (green) i.e. those who have either accepted the invitation and have a sign-up on the Sign-Ups tab, Declined (red) i.e. those who have declined the invitation, and Engaged (yellow) i.e. those who have opened the invite and/or clicked the a button link within the invite.

Users can easily resend an invitation to any invitee with a Pending status by selecting Resend invite from the action cog next to the invitee's name in the list (this will send a carbon copy of the original invite email). It's not possible to resend an invitation to someone who has declined.

When a User manually processes an Accept response they are prompted to complete the Add sign-up form - a note is added to the sign-up stating the invite response (i.e. accepted), and the date, time and username that processed the acceptance.

Similarly, when a User manually processes a Decline they can optionally provide a decline reason in the Comment field.

The Invites tab displays tracking information about whether the event invite has been Opened - hovering over the "eye" icon will display the last known tracked 'open'. If the invitee has Clicked through from the invitation email to the event page, we also log the Click icon as having been opened and clicked. Note that not all email clients support open-rate tracking, so your invite email may have been opened but not reported back to ChurchSuite. We record the latest tracking information reflecting the most recent time the invitation is opened or clicked - it's not possible to see how many times (and when) an invite has been clicked and/or opened.

If a User deletes a sign-up (or refunds a paid ticket, thus cancelling the sign-up) relating to an invite, the invite status is changed back to pending and a comment is added with a note of the user name and the date and time the signup was deleted.

From the Invites list, selecting View invite from the cog action menu of an invitee will display the historic response activity of the invitation.

You can also export the Invites list by selecting Download invite list.

The CSV file includes details of the invitees and response and tracking information.

Working within the Invites tab, you can optionally filter the invite list by Status and and easily add those invitees to a Flow, Key Date or Tag, should you wish to perform other tasks using the same list of invitees.

When viewing a person's profile page, you can view recent event invites using the drop-down selector in the meta section on the right hand side of their profile

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