Managing communication options

In this article

Introduction
Setting the default communication options for new people
Managing communication options
Customising the communication options message
Managing communication options - unsubscribes
Overriding communication options

Introduction

ChurchSuite makes it easy for church members to manage their own communication options and for those options to be respected by default whenever a User sends a communication through your admin-facing ChurchSuite platform. It's also possible for a User to override people's communication options when appropriate (e.g. where you have a lawful basis to override consent).

Communication options should not be confused with 'mailing list preferences'. Communication options are people's preferred communication methods - by email, SMS, phone and post. For email and SMS ChurchSuite further distinguishes general emails/SMS from rota reminders, thus giving people a simple way of opting out of receiving rota reminders while still receiving all your other communication, or vice versa.

Independent of these communication options you can use features like custom fields and fixed tags and/or smart tags to maintain your organisation's various subscriber lists and mailing list preferences.

Communication options should also not be confused with privacy settings. Privacy settings determine which elements of a person's contact details are visible to other people within the member-facing My ChurchSuite and are therefore nothing to do with communication preferences. For example, while an email address or mobile number may have been set 'not visible' in My ChurchSuite, users are always able to see (and use) an email address or mobile number in ChurchSuite.

Setting the default communication options for new people

It's possible to set the default communication options that are automatically applied to new contacts and children when they're added to the Address Book and Children modules. For customers that need to comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation the default communication options should typically be set to 'opted out' by default - but for non-EU customers and non-EU data subjects not governed by the GDPR your data protection policy may permit you to set 'opted in' as the defaults when new people are added to ChurchSuite.

To review the default communication options for new contacts and children, head in to the Address Book module's settings (and also the Children module's settings) by clicking the cog icon in the top right corner of the module. Navigate down the Module Options tab to the Communication settings. Here you can Set the default communications settings that will be used for new people added into ChurchSuite - checking the box next to each option will set the default to 'opted in' to receive each communication type. Remember, these settings only apply to new people added, not to existing people already in ChurchSuite.

Note that the Receive phone calls and Receive post (above) will only be shown if those two optional fields have first been enabled in the module's settings on the Module Options page in the Contact Fields section. The Receive post option is used when address labels are produced from within ChurchSuite - if opted out, you will not be able produce address labels for that person from within the Communication section of a module.

Save any changes made to module settings before navigating away from the page.

Managing communication options

You can view (and edit) a person's communication options on their profile page in the Address Book or Children module - notice the Communication section under their list of Tags.

This can be helpful for those individuals that are unable to manage their own communication options - perhaps if they don't yet have access to My ChurchSuite - a User is able to edit a person's profile and update the communication options in accordance with the person's wishes, perhaps adding a Note of any verbal consent given. A Changes log is maintained at the bottom of each person's profile page, which will detail who made such changes - a User (in ChurchSuite) or the church member (in My ChurchSuite) - and a note of what was changed and when.

Note: The Receive rota reminder emails/SMS options, while visible to Users on a contact's profile page in ChurchSuite, will only be visible to the contact in My ChurchSuite if they are part of a Ministry in the Rotas module. If they are not a ministry or rota member they will not have the option to manage their rota reminder communication options within My ChurchSuite.

Types of email

As explained in the Introduction to this article, ChurchSuite distinguishes rota reminder communications from all other general church communications, which is an entirely separate concept to the various subscriber mailing lists your organisation might maintain. Through communication options people can opt in or out of each communication method independently, perhaps choosing to receive your general emails, but not receive rota reminders. General emails/SMS are communications sent by a User from within your admin-facing ChurchSuite system. If Receive general emails/SMS? is set to "opted out" the message will not sent to that recipient person. A visual indicator is always provided at the point of sending communications.

System notification emails and confirmation emails are not treated as general emails and are always sent and cannot be opted out of. These include: -

  • Event and small group sign-up notifications
  • Flow overseer notifications
  • Booking type/resource overseer notifications
  • Address Book Embed and Connect 'My details' overseer notifications
  • Address Book Embed and Connect 'My Details' 'Areas of interest' overseer notifications
  • My ChurchSuite password reset emails
  • My ChurchSuite invitation emails
  • Consent request emails
  • Success and confirmation emails e.g. when an online form has been submitted by a member.

If necessary you can easily make bulk changes to Communication Settings for multiple people using the Communication Options report in the Address Book module's Reports section (and also in the Children module's Reports section too) - see the related support article for further information about how this works.

Importantly, people are able to manage all their own personal information, including communication options on the Communication page in the My Details section of My ChurchSuite...

...and those of any linked children from the child's Communication page in the My Children section.

Those using My ChurchSuite see a visual indication of their own communication options when viewing their My Details section on their Home page within My ChurchSuite. Any opted out communication options are distinguished by a strikethrough notification icon in front of the appropriate field. In the following example, this church member has opted out of receiving post, general emails, general SMS and phone calls.

Where your organisation is relying on consent as the lawful basis for processing personal information (under the EU GDPR or other data protection or privacy law), existing members can manage their communication options as part of completing the My Consent form (see our related support article on Ongoing Consent)...

Similarly, newcomers are able to set their Communication options as part of submitting their personal details and areas of interest when using the Address Book Embed or Connect My Details forms (but not the rota reminder communication options, which are not yet relevant for newcomers until they're read to begin serving!)...

Customising the communication options message

In the above screen shot notice the Communication message displayed above the tick boxes. You can customise the message that's displayed whenever Communication options are shown on any page or form where people are submitting or updating their information. However, note that the same message will display on all public-facing forms and in My ChurchSuite wherever communication options are surfaced - it is not possible to have a different communication message for each form. We therefore encourage you to create a message that is suitably generic for all uses. To customise the message head into the Address Book module's settings and select the My ChurchSuite Options tab.

Scroll down to the Communication Message options. Here you can add your own custom text for the communication box - you should use language and terminology that is appropriate for adult contacts and children and suitably generic for use on each of the different forms mentioned earlier in this article. Remember to save your changes before navigating away from the module options.

Managing communication options - unsubscribes

All emails sent by Users from within ChurchSuite contain an Unsubscribe link in the email footer...

When an email recipient clicks the Unsubscribe link it opens their personal Communication options page. From here they can make changes, opting in or out of your various communication options. They can even request their data in ChurchSuite be deleted entirely using the Delete account option (see the related support article on Ongoing Consent and Right to be forgotten for further information about how this functionality works).

A Changes log is maintain on each person's profile page in the Address Book and Children module. Whenever a person changes to their own communication options the log is updated.

Additionally, Key Dates are added when a person unsubscribes from one or more communication options.

Finally, communication options can be referenced in Smart Tag conditions - ideal for reporting a list of those who have opted in or out of certain communication options.

Overriding communication options

When sending an email or SMS from within ChurchSuite a User has the option to override the communication options of recipients - perhaps where you have a compelling reason or a lawful basis that doesn't require 'opt in consent'. When selecting Do not respect Communication settings the User is required to enter a Reason, which is added to the footer of the email being sent (but not to SMSs).

The Reason is also included in the sent Communications log when viewing a sent messages.

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