Getting started with the Address Book module
Purpose of the module
Welcome to the ChurchSuite Address Book! This module is for managing all the adult contacts associated with your church, ministry or charitable organisation. Through the Address Book you can record and track levels of engagement, manage common admin workflows, and communicate and report with ease. The Address Book is not intended for children and young people (typically under 18s) - the Children module is provided for those who are part of your organisation's children or youth ministry - although you may have their parent details in the Address Book and link a child to their parent.
We encourage you to read this article in full in order to familiarise yourself with the module's key features and customisation options available, and to acquaint yourself with some of the basic concepts and terminology you'll see within the module and our other Address Book support articles.
Address Book features at a glance
- Easily add new or import existing contacts
- Contact profile pages with everything you need to know in one view
- Use standard (common) fields, enable optional fields, or create your own custom fields
- Manage each person's communication options, privacy settings and ongoing consent
- Categorise your Address Book using Tags
- Maintain historic records of key dates and milestones
- Record internal-only notes against contacts
- Optionally store student details so that you have 'term time' and 'holiday time' contact information
- Use Flows to process people through your common admin workflows and receive reminders when tasks become due (or overdue!)
- Communicate by Email and SMS (sending in real time or scheduling communications), or produce address labels
- Wide range of standard reports, or perform custom reporting using Smart Tags or the Table Generator
- Perform batch updates of information to multiple contacts
- Produce printable contact directories
- Archive contacts that have moved on from your community, or set them active again if they return
- Module functionality designed with GDPR best-compliance in mind
- Web-embeddable Address Book form for newcomer to submit their contact details and areas of interest via your website
- Offer a newcomer connect form on a device running at your Information Point so that visitors and newcomers can submit contact details and express areas of interest
- Invite members to access the 'My ChurchSuite' member-facing platform - designed to promote community engagement, enable people to keep their details up to date, view all your communications in one place and communicate with one another
- Comprehensive 'change logs' to help you stay on top of all the changes being made by your User or members
- Multi-site support - assign each contact to a site, perhaps where a "site" represents your different communities, projects or locations (e.g. different worshipping locations for church services, or different projects for a charity)
- Multi-lingual support using in-built translations for many countries or using your browser's regional settings translation
- Accessible through any browser or via the free iOS or Android "ChurchSuite" app
Overview of the Address Book
The Contacts section of the Address Book is divided into three view sections, each representing the status of contacts who have given their consent for you to hold their information - Active, Pending and Archived - use the view selector to switch between them. From the Contacts section you can Add contact - perhaps to manually add new people - or Import contacts if you're ready to begin importing your existing contact data (see the related support articles for further information on both these options).
Your Address Book may well contain different 'types' of contacts, not just those who are attending, giving, serving or participating. The active section of your Address Book - contacts with an active status - are all those whom your organisation is wanting to 'touch and track' - from the crowd to the core; irrespective of their level of engagement or commitment, but whom you still consider to be part of your organisation's ministry and mission. They're all the people whom you may wish to communicate with, or whom you still wish to maintain historical or statistical data for. Your ChurchSuite monthly subscription is based on the number of contacts in the 'active' Address Book. You can use tags to distinguish levels of engagement of contacts in the 'active' section.
When people move on from your organisation you may decide to delete them from the Address Book entirely if they are unlikely to return - this would certainly be 'best data protection practice' if you no longer have a lawful basis for continuing to process their personal information. However, subject to your data protection policy, you may prefer to archive contacts for a season, giving you the option to reinstate them in the future, or to delete them after a further period of inactivity. You may also be able, or even required to maintain certain personal information about former members/contacts, for example, where you have a lawful basis to do so. See the related support articles on what happens when a contact is archived or deleted.
When people submit their details through ChurchSuite's web-embeddable features (e.g. the Address Book Embed or the Small Group 'sign-up Embed), new contacts are first added to the "Pending" section of the module. This is done to protect your "Active" Address Book from being spammed and because your ChurchSuite subscription is based on "Active" contacts. Setting a "Pending" contact as "Active" will move them to the "Active" section. Crucially, "Pending" is not a reference to a contact's level of engagement or commitment within your organisation - instead you might use tags to distinguish between levels of engagement of contacts within the "Active" section of your Address Book e.g. members and non-members. Once set as "Active", contacts cannot be set as "Pending" again; they can only be archived or deleted. Contacts with a "Pending" status must be Set active (see screenshot above) before they can participate in any wider functionality. For example, only "active" contacts can be processed through Flows, be assigned to Tags, be recipients of your communications, or be included within report results. The "Pending" section is therefore not the place for non-members! Instead, those whom you determine to be "non-members" should be tagged accordingly in your "Active" Address Book.
Navigating around the people in the module is really simple and intuitive. The Search Bar auto-filters the list of contacts as you begin to type a name, address, email, phone or mobile number, making it easy to locate the person you're looking for.
Clicking the Advanced Search provides additional filtering options - ideal for drilling down into your contacts data further or to locate the right list of people within a large Address Book.
A pagination control at the bottom of the list enables you to increase the number of contacts per page.
In addition to Users being able to make changes or perform certain actions on individual contacts from their profile pages, Batch Actions enable Users to perform tasks for multiple contacts at the same time.
Clicking through to a person's profile page you'll see a comprehensive overview of all their details and engagement with your organisation. The grey "meta information" section on the right-hand side of profile pages indicates others details relating to the contact - those living at the same address, recent events, groups and rotas they belong to, and any Flows they are currently being processed through.
Profile pages include helpful action buttons for common admin tasks like editing, communication, My ChurchSuite administration or quickly adding a person to a tag, flow, group or key date.
Tags (the bright-coloured 'pills' in the centre section of the above example profile page) enable you to group people together within the Address Book around something that those people all have in common. For example, you might group together "Members" in a tag, or "Newsletter recipients" in another Tag. Tags help with targeting your communications or filtering reports for just the right grouping of people you're interested in. ChurchSuite has two types of tags - Fixed Tags are a fixed list of people that remains unchanged until changed by a User - and Smart Tags that are based on a list of conditions, where those matching the tag's conditions are automatically tagged.
Smart tags have the distinct advantage of remaining up to date as your data changes over time. You can also use Smart Tag to ask very specific questions of your data in a very simple way. You can create conditions based on people's data across multiple modules and see the matching results.
While we've done our best to provide our customers with the most commonly-used fields for their Address Book - some of which are optional fields that need to be enabled in the module's settings - you can also create your own Custom Fields and record information in a variety of data formats.
The Key Dates section of a person's profile page is where you'll be able to keep track of someone's engagement or activity within your community over time - ideal for recording key membership dates, training or personal development dates, discipleship milestones, important anniversaries or pastoral interventions; or maybe just simple someone's attendance at a course or programme that you've been running. There's some great key date reporting available, and you can use key dates as conditions in smart tags too.
Whatever the size of your church or organisation, staying on top of how people's data is changing over time and their communication history is really important. ChurchSuite maintains comprehensive Changes and Communication logs throughout the platform and simple reports to help you understand how your data is being updated and by whom.
Every organisation uses spreadsheets to manage certain admin tasks, with spreadsheet columns representing the different stages that things need to happen for each person in the list. Flows enable you to easily translate what you might ordinarily do in a spreadsheet into an "online" equivalent. You'll set up the various stages through which people will be processed, you'll define actions that are to be optionally processed at each stage; and importantly, reminders are automatically sent to let your users know when tasks become due or overdue. Flows are a great way for teams for work collaboratively on recurring admin processes and to stay on top of all the people in the Flow at their different stages. Could this be the end to one or two of your unwieldy spreadsheets?!
Actions that can be processed include everything from assigning and removing Tags, assigning Key Dates and Custom Field values, to sending Preset emails and SMSs and archiving people. Some actions are not available in some modules. Flows will help you and your team stay on top of each person's progress through the various stages of the Flow, with reminder notifications highlighting when tasks become due or overdue.
Connect and Embed
The Address Book includes two customisable My Details forms through which newcomers can submit their contact details and areas of interest - one that can be embedded in your website and one that can be made available at your Information Point using ChurchSuite Connect. New contacts are added directly to the Address Book, saving admin-time processing paper forms and deciphering handwriting.
Gather newcomer details from individuals and whole families and ChurchSuite will auto-link all the family members. Begin newcomer integration more quickly by soliciting Areas of Interest that notify the appropriate ministry heads, and add new contacts straight into Flows and assign key dates and tags.
Newcomers can set their Communication Options and accept your Privacy Notice ensuring best compliance with data protection requirements.
My ChurchSuite is ChurchSuite's member-facing platform and it can be customised to suit your context and match your existing styling and branding, providing your members with a familiar user experience. My ChurchSuite is accessible through a browser or the iOS or Android ChurchSuite app.
My ChurchSuite enables members to...
- manage their own (and their children's) personal information, keeping it up to date and easing the administrative burden on your staff
- view all your communications to the member in one place
- manage their communication options and privacy settings
- view your events calendar and sign up to events and courses, or respond to event invitations
- manage small group commitments, or find a group to join and sign-up
- stay on top of their rotas, add unavailability and organise rota swaps
- view their historic donations and manage their giving, including adding Gift Aid declaration (UK only) or making pledges.
- listen to missed messages from your podcast
- search the member contacts directory to stay in touch with others (subject to each person's privacy settings)
- access any external links you might promote, such as your website or a link to leader resources
Being able to send and email or SMS to just the right individuals or groupings of contacts is at the centre of the Address Book, which is why you'll see a Communicate button at the top of most pages and reports where you're working.
Frequently-used communications can be saved as Presets and recalled whenever required. Use the HMTL tools to style your message content, insert Merge Fields for personalisation, attach Files to emails and even Schedule a message, specifying when you'd like it to be sent.
Like most ChurchSuite modules, the Address Book includes a Communication utility - just search and select contacts or tags you'd like to communicate with.
The Address Book includes a wide range of standard reports for common admin tasks, or to help you drill down into the content of your Address Book data for strategic purposes or historic reporting. Filter reports to see just what you're looking for and then download, print or send the report, or communicate directly with those in the report's results.
Before adding or importing data to the Address Book, we recommend that you first review the module's settings to make sure the module is customised to suit your church or organisation's needs. Some features will not be accessible until they are first configured or enabled. For example, you will not be able to import data into custom fields until the custom fields have first been added.
Accessing the module's settings is done via the cogwheels icon in the top-right corner of the module. This option is only available to those Users with at least Manage-level user permissions or Administrators.
The Address Book module's settings are divided into 5 sections, each controlling different areas of the Address Book's functionality across each part of the ChurchSuite ecosystem.
In order to explore many of the Address Book module's features and functionality you'll need to add or import some data. It's easy to do, or the ChurchSuite Support team can import your data for you. See the related support articles at the end of this article for further details.
Got a question?
You’ll find the answers to most questions in our support articles - they're all available through the Support beacon located in the bottom-right corner of each page in the Address Book - just search by topic, phrase or keyword. You can also access the Support Article library on our website. And if you still can't find something you're looking for, click to get in touch with one of the ChurchSuite team - we’re happy to help!