Event invitations

Calendar module users can send email invitations for an event, track who has opened the email, and process recipient responses then they accept or decline. The invitee user experience makes engaging with your events simple and intuitive - often with just a button click to respond.

In this article

Getting started - event settings
Sending invitations
Receiving an invitation
Accepting an invitation
Declining an invitation
Selecting the "More Information" response
Managing event invitations and responses
Communicating with invitees

Getting started - event settings

Events can be set as invitation-only with no wider public event Visibility - like this example. Only the invited target audience will be able to respond (accept or decline) via the invitation email, even if the event is not visible in My ChurchSuite, Embed or Connect.

The event Visibility settings can also be used in a mixed audience configuration - sending invitations to a targeted audience and publicly visible in My ChurchSuite, Embed or Connect, with the Sign-Up settings determining whether people can sign up from those three places. This may be for something like a training event/course where you have some potential guests in mind to invite, and where your want others outside of the invitation list to see the event and sign up if they wish. In the following example, the event is visible in My ChurchSuite, Embed and Connect; people can sign up through My ChurchSuite and Embed (and Connect) but they will also be able to sign up when they accept an event invitation they've received.

ChurchSuite matches sign-up details against invitees to keep everything up to date so; those who sign up outside of an invitation email - perhaps via your website if the event is visible there - their response status is updated to Accepted.

The Send invite action is only shown on the event "View" page for a Confirmed status future-dated event that has the Sign up through Event page option enabled in the event's sign-up settings. If the event Status is later set as Pending or Cancelled, invitees will be prevented from responding but existing Sign-Ups will persist and can be optionally cancelled and/or refunded as appropriate to the event and your refund policy.

Intended functionality - parent/child invitations

Event invitations can only be sent through the Calendar module, however, unlike the Chidlren module, the Calendar module has no concept of Send to a parent and Send to a child.

For the system to track responses for each invited person and create sign-ups for those who accept, invitations for parents to respond on behalf of each of their children must be sent to the child. Where you wish the invitation to be received by a parent you will need to add the parent's email address to the Child Email field on the child's profile. In this way, you'll be able to send invitations to children, with the emails delivered to the parent's email address, while also tracking the responses of each invited child. Remember, a parent may have multiple children and a person can only be invited to an event once!

It is not possible to Send to a parent and track responses for each of their children.

Sending invitations

From the event "View" page within the Calendar module click Send invite. This button is only shown for sign-up enabled, future-dated, confirmed-status events, and for sequence events that have future dates in the sequence.

On the Send invite pop-up select the Tickets and Options to be included in the invitation. Further customisation is possible later when previewing the draft email before sending it. You will also be able to choose to send a previously sent invitation or send a Custom (new) invitation. Click Proceed to view the draft invitation.

The invitation is branded according to the event's Category branding, with the email Subject and body content created according to the Options selected in the last step. At this stage, the email can be further customised if you wish. Note also the Communication override option, which can be used to send to opted-out recipients where you have a lawful reason to send the invitation without opt-in consent. invitation can also be Scheduled. Click to Preview Email and select the invitee recipients.

Using Preset invitation emails

Following the method above ChurchSuite will automatically create a correctly-formatted invitation email. It is also possible to create a Preset invitation styled to your preferred layout and content for an event.

The Send invite workflow can only be initiated from an event "View" page in the Calendar module - it is not possible to send a preset invitation from any other context within ChurchSuite. However, when previewing the system-generated invitation, you can then select a previously-prepared Preset Email from the drop-down list, which will replace the system-created version.

A Preset invitation can contain any text or email body content, however, the email must include the ::invite_rsvp:: merge field within the email body. You will be unable to preview and send the invitation if this merge field is absent.

As an alternative to ::invite_rsvp:: you can optionally use ::invite_accept::, ::invite_decline:: and ::invite_information:: as separate merge fields - perhaps to style your own buttons within the Preset. However, all three buttons must be present in the Preset. For example, it is not possible to send an event invitation with only an "Accept" button.

When including these merge fields in your email, the resulting link will only include live tickets at the time of sending the invitation. If you later add another ticket, or a ticket becomes available due to its availability start date, it will not be visible via the original invitation link.

From the email preview, click Add recipients to search and select individual invitee names, or type a Tag name to invite a previously-tagged group of invitees. Click Back or Back to edit to make further changes or click Cancel to abort the process.

As you add recipient invitees, those without an email address and those who opted out of general emails are distinguished. While an invitation email will not be sent to these people, they can still be added to the Invites list, or you may prefer to remove non-recipients before sending. There must be at least one opted-in recipient with an email address for the Send Email button to become active. When you are ready to proceed click Send Email and the invitations are sent.

The sent invitation email is recorded in the event Communication log and also shown on each recipient's communication log on the profile page in the Address Book or Children module.

The Invites tab is added to the event "View" page. The tab shows a list of invitees and the response progress. If an invitee has previously signed up (shown on the Sign-Ups tab) their response status is shown as Accepted, otherwise, a Pending status is shown. Invitees without an email address or who were previously opted out of receiving general emails when the invitation was sent are shown as Not Sent and can be optionally deleted. Once sent, an invitation cannot be rescinded or deleted. Note the available actions to View and Resend an invitation, and to Accept or Decline on an invitee's behalf.

In the next sections, we will look at the invited recipient's user experience and each of their response options.

Receiving an invitation

In addition to the event details, the invitation email contains three call-to-action response buttons - Accept, Decline and More information. The action performed by clicking each button depends on the event settings - whether there are tickets, multiple tickets, event questions, and whether the event is free or requires online payment.

For events set as Visible in My ChurchSuite and where Sign up through My ChurchSuite is enabled, invitees will see their invitations awaiting a response in the My Invites section of My ChurchSuite.

...and also on the event "View" page within My Events when clicking through from an event on the Calendar or event Search.

The Accept and Decline buttons in My ChurchSuite function the same as the embedded buttons in the invitation email which are explained in the next sections of this article.

Accepting an invitation

Where there are no event questions or tickets (or if there is a single free ticket), clicking Accept immediately signs up the person to the event and takes them straight to a sign-up Success Page with no further intervention required. If their invitee's linked spouse/partner is also invited and their response status is still Pending, they will be able to respond on behalf of their spouse/partner.

However, if the event has questions or there are multiple tickets (free or paid) the invitee is taken to the Event Page where their details are pre-filled into the sign-up form. If a linked spouse/partner is also invited and their response status is still Pending, the invitee can respond on behalf of their spouse/partner, which will add an additional signup with their details also pre-filled into the same form. The invitee can then answer any event questions on the form, select their ticket/s (where applicable) and pay (where applicable).

An Accept response adds a sign-up against the event and updates the response status to Accepted. A linked spouse/partner Accept response will also update their response status to Accepted too. If an invitee accepts a previously declined invitation the response status will update from Declined to Accepted. If an invitee signs up for the event manually - perhaps on your website - rather than using the Accept response button in their invitation email, ChurchSuite will still match the sign-up details against the Invites list (as long as contact details match those held in ChurchSuite) and update the response status to Accepted.

An invitee is unable to accept (but can decline) an invitation after the event sign-up period has ended.

Declining an invitation

Clicking Decline immediately updates the response status to Declined with no further action required by the invitee. A decline confirmation message is shown with an optional decline reason that can be submitted - choosing between two 'canned' decline reasons or entering a custom "Other" reason. Once declined an invitee can still change their mind, perhaps if they declined by mistake. Clicking Didn't mean to decline? Click here to undo, reverts the response status to Pending and clears any previously-added decline comments. The invitee is then redirected to the Event Page where they can respond Accept or Decline. Similarly, an invitee can decline on behalf of their linked spouse/partner if they too are invited and their response status is still Pending. If a linked spouse/partner has previously accepted it cannot subsequently be declined. If a linked spouse/partner has previously declined that decline can be subsequently reversed and accepted.

Note that invitees cannot subsequently decline a previously accepted invitation. In this scenario, and since refunds or a cancellation policy may be involved, the invitee will need to contact the event organiser, who can manually decline the invitation on the event "View" page or process a sign-up cancellation or refund as appropriate.

An invitee is always able to decline (but not accept) an invitation even after the sign-up period has ended.

Selecting the "More information" response

When an invitee clicks the More Information response button they are redirected to the Event Page where they can view further information about the event. Their contact details are still pre-filled into the sign-up form but they will need to accept your privacy notice and click Proceed to complete a sign-up. If the invitee's spouse/partner is also invited and their response status is still Pending, the invitee can respond on behalf of their spouse/partner.

If the invitee has previously accepted or declined the invitation, the More information button opens a summarised Event Page showing the event date, time and location, the ticket details, and for a previously declined invitation, undo the Decline or add a comment to their decline (but not add further comments once the decline comments have been submitted).

Managing event invitations and responses

Calendar module Users with Manage permissions can manually process responses on behalf of invitees; for example, where the invitee contacts the office to respond by telephone, accepting and declining invitations, or setting a response status back to Pending (which will also delete any associated Accepted event sign-up or any Declined comments). Setting a response Pending will revert the status to Pending or Opened. Sign-ups with paid tickets must first be refunded before the response status can be manually Declined or set as Pending.

If a user adds a sign-up manually through the event "View" page in the Calendar module, ChurchSuite will attempt to match the sign-up to the Invites list and, if matched, the response status will change to Accepted. It is not possible to change the response status to Accepted without a sign-up also being added - a sign-up is always present for an Accepted invitation.

A response progress indicator is shown on the Invites tab with three metrics - Accepted (green) i.e. those who have accepted the invitation and have a sign-up on the Sign-Ups tab, Declined (red), and Opened (yellow) i.e. those who have opened the invitation or have clicked a response, but not yet submitted a response.

Users can resend a previously-sent invitation to anyone with a Pending or Opened status by selecting Resend from the invitee actions. It is not possible to resend an invitation to someone who has already accepted or declined, but you can set a Declined status to Pending and then Resend.

Communicating with invitees

A vital part of event management is timely communication before and after an event. Click Communicate from the Invites tab to Send email or Send SMS to the list of invitees. You can optionally filter the list by response Status.

The Send email (and Send SMS) pop-up follows any response Status filter already applied on the Invites tab. If no filters are selected then all invitees will be recipients. You can also further filter to those Invited between a range of dates, those in the Address Book and/or Children module. Click Proceed to launch the usual email or SMS "compose" pop-up.

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