Building customisable forms - BETA

      Beta access

      The new Forms functionality explained in this support article is available to all customers as a beta access feature. We will continue to add further Forms features in the coming weeks, including:
      • Actions - the ability to trigger actions based on form responses. These may include add to tag/key date/flow/ministry/group, send preset email/sms/notification, archive/delete person, remove tag, add note etc.
      • Person updating - optionally update a contact/child profile where a response is matched and linked to a person - for example, a new/different address provided in a form response can be optionally updated to the respondent's profile in your ChurchSuite module
      • Conditional questions - form field responses will be able to determine the visibility of subsequent questions eg respondents answering Yes or No will surface a different follow-on question

      30th June 2021

      In this article

      Introduction and overview of intended functionality
      Adding a form
      Building a form
      Smart links
      Embedding a form in a website
      Form responses

      Introduction and overview of intended functionality

      Forms enable you to collect data for a wide range of purposes. Whether you're creating a questionnaire to gauge interest in volunteering, creating a Gift Aid form or requesting parental consent for a youth group trip, forms provide all the tools you need.

      Forms can be created within the Address Book and Children modules and data is collected via a form page which can be shared with potential respondents via a URL link. Invitations can also be emailed to contacts and children within ChurchSuite, enabling them to access a form which has been pre-filled with existing data such as their name and contact details. Form overseers are notified as forms are submitted and responses can be viewed within ChurchSuite or downloaded to a CSV file.

      Several Example Forms are available to help you get started.

      Adding a form

      To add a form, select the Forms tab in the Address Book or Children modules…

      …and then select Add form.

      On the Add form pop up, complete all of the details as appropriate.

      Start Date/Time refers to the date/time after which responses can be submitted and End Date/Time is the date/time after which responses cannot be submitted. If a Brand is specified, it will be used on the form page and invitation emails.

      Visible to specifies the user groups or user the form is visible to within ChurchSuite whilst Visible in specifies the module(s) the form is visible in.

      Top Tip!

      It's possible for forms to collect data from multiple modules. This means that it's possible for a user who only has Address Book permissions to see fields from the Children module if a form is visible in both the Address Book and Children modules. It is the responsibility of the ChurchSuite user who creates a form to set the Visible to and Visible in controls appropriately to ensure that data is appropriately protected.

      Access determines how a respondent accesses a form and one of the following options must be selected:

      1. Public - the form has a public URL as well as the ability to send invitations to people, asking them to follow a link to complete the form.
      2. Private - the form can only be completed by people who have received an invitation.
      3. Anonymous - the form can only be completed by people who have received an invitation. In order to maintain anonymity, in ChurchSuite the responses will not show against the invitee.

      If Smart links are used (as described later), it's possible for forms to be pre-filled with selected data before completion by the respondent if Send Invite is used.

      Site (required) - this determines the sites in which the form will be visible.

      After completing the relevant fields, click Save.

      A form can also be added by selecting Duplicate from a form's view page...

      ...or from the Action menu.

      This will open a Duplicate form pop up, pre-populated with the original form's options which can be edited as required.

      After clicking Save on an Add form or Duplicate form pop up, you will be taken to the form’s "View" page which summarises all the information which has been entered. A form is always created in Draft status and cannot receive responses until it has been published by selecting Publish.

      Once a form has been published, it can be set back to Draft status if you need to edit the content of the form, as the content of a Published form cannot be edited.

      The "View" page includes the ability to customise an optional Success message which is shown on the screen after a form has been submitted. You can also customise the Confirmation email which is sent to a respondent after they have submitted a form or edited it subsequently. The confirmation email automatically includes all of the data which has been submitted.

      Form Overseers can be added on the "View" page. Overseers receive an email notification when a form is submitted for the first time. They do not receive notifications when a form is subsequently edited.

      A form’s “View” page also has three tabs - Setup, Invites and Responses.

      • Setup enables you to build a form with a variety of components. This can only be done when a form is in draft.
      • Invites shows the contacts and children who have been invited to complete the form and the status of their response.
      • Responses details the responses given by each individual, along with a Download csv option.

      The order of these tabs varies depending on the status of the form. A form which is in Draft will show Setup followed by Invites and Responses. When a form is Published, the Responses tab shows first, followed by Invites and Setup. For a published form, the Setup tab shows a read-only view of the form as fields can only be added, edited or deleted when a form is in draft.

      Once created, forms are listed in a summary table which gives an overview of the form's settings, including an icon showing Access.

      An Action menu offers quick links to view, edit, duplicate and delete the form.

      A filter enables you to search for Past, Active, Active & Future and Future forms, with Active & Future as the default.

      A Search box allows you to search for forms by name...

      ...and an Advanced search option includes filters for Access (Public/Private/Anonymous) and Status (Draft/Published).

      To edit a form's settings, select Edit from the Action menu...

      ...or Edit on a form’s “View” page.

      This opens a pop up which enables you to edit the form's settings.

      When editing a form, all field values can be changed, with the following caveats:

      • An Anonymous form which has responses cannot be made Public or Private. This is to protect the anonymity of the invitees who have completed the form.
      • If a user changes the Visible in value and de-selects the module in which they are currently working, they will be sent to the Forms page and a permissions error will be shown. For example, if a user is in the Address Book and edits a form so that it’s no longer visible in the Address Book, an error message will alert them that they need to go to another module to view the form.

      Building a form

      To build a form, first ensure that your form is in Draft as it is not possible to add, edit or delete fields when a form is published. Selecting the Setup tab displays a list of the items which can be included in a form. There is also a search field for finding a specific item.

      The following items are available for forms:

      • Standard fields
      • Elements - These create sections within the form using Divider, Heading and Text. Text is an HTML field and enables you to include images and videos. Data Protection enables you to add a checkbox which must be ticked before a form can be submitted.

      • Person fields - Any fields present for both Address Book contacts and children
      • Contact fields - Any fields present for Address Book contacts but not for children. Only visible in the Address Book module.
      • Contact custom fields - All custom fields present in the Address Book module options. Only visible in the Address Book module.
      • Child fields - Any fields present for children but not for Address Book contacts. Only visible in the Children module.
      • Child custom fields - All custom fields present in the Children module options. Only visible in the Children module.

      These can be collapsed to hide unnecessary fields or expanded to show all. By default, Standard fields and Elements will be expanded and the others will be collapsed.

      Signature Fields

      Signature fields show on a form as a white box in which a respondent can either use their finger or mouse to provide an interpretation of their signature.

      This creates an image which is shown to the respondent on submission, in their confirmation email and in the Responses tab on the form's "View" page. The signature is not shown in a CSV download as this is not possible.

      All Person, Contact and Child fields are actually Standard fields with the inclusion of a Smart link. At any time, a Person field could be added to the form and then downgraded to a Standard field. Conversely, a Standard field could be added and upgraded with a Smart link.

      Form fields without Smart links create isolated data which can only be used within the form context and have no direct link to any ChurchSuite data for the respondent. Smart links elevate a Standard field. When used, they pre-fill data in forms sent using Send invite and populate data when creating a new contact using Add contact.

      Smart links are made when adding or editing an item. If a Standard field is added to a form, the Smart link field will initially be empty...

      ...but the item can be smart linked to an associated field within ChurchSuite.

      If a Person, Contact, Child or Contact/Child custom field is added to a form, a Smart link will automatically show but this can be altered or de-selected if necessary.

      After a Person, Contact or Child field has been added to a form, the field will show as faded out to indicate that it cannot be added again. It is not possible to include a duplicate smart linked field and validation will prevent this.

      For example, if you want to send a form to your members and you would like the form to pre-fill their email address, select the Person Email field. Once used, it will show as faded out to indicate that it cannot be selected again.

      Another option is to select Email from the Standard field section and smart link it to ChurchSuite's Email field. After clicking Save, the Person Email field will show as faded out because a Smart link has been made.

      However, if you need to collect further email addresses, you can select Email from the Standard fields section and use this field without a Smart link as many times as necessary.

      A linking icon indicates that a field has a Smart link.

      Top Tip

      When deciding whether or not to use Smart links, consider the following examples:

      • Form 1 is created using only standard fields with no smart linking in place. It includes fields for Name, Mobile and Address.
      • Form 2 is created using smart linked fields for First & Last Name, Email, Mobile and Address.

      These forms would behave in the following ways:

      • Anyone visiting the public URL for Form 1 or Form 2 would notice no difference between them - the forms would look identical.
      • Any invitees to Form 1 would see a blank form with no pre-filled data because there are no Smart links.
      • Invitees to Form 2 would see their own data pre-filled in the fields because Smart links are in place.
      • Clicking Add contact on any unlinked responses for Form 1 would open an empty pop up with no pre-filled data for creating a new contact.
      • Clicking Add contact on any unlinked responses for Form 2 would open a pop up for creating a new contact with the First Name, Last Name, Email, Mobile and Address data filled in.

      At any time, the fields on Form 1 could be edited and Smart links could be added. In this scenario Form 1 would then behave exactly like Form 2.

      • Existing invitees who had not previously responded to the invite would start to see their data pre-filled in Form 1.
      • Clicking Add contact for any unlinked responses to Form 1 would show a pop up for creating a new contact with the First Name, Last Name, Email, Mobile and Address data filled in.

      In the same way, the fields on Form 2 could be edited at any time to remove the Smart links. This would stop the data being pre-filled for invitees who have not previously responded. It would also stop pre-populating data in the pop up which appears when clicking Add contact from a form response.

      When building a form, the fields available to a user vary based on the form's Visible in setting (modules), the Access setting of the form (Public/Private/Anonymous) and the fields already present within the form at the time. The following rules apply to the available field list:

      • Anonymous forms will not offer any Person, Contact or Children fields - only Elements and Standard fields will be available. Smart links will not be available for Standard fields.
      • Forms which are not visible in the Address Book will not show any Contact fields.
      • Forms which are not visible in the Children module will not show any Child fields.
      • Any Person, Contact or Child fields already included within the form will show as faded out in the list of items as a smart linked field cannot be added more than once.

      In summary, a Public or Private empty form which is visible in the Address Book and Children module will show every field as available. A form can have any number of Standard fields without a Smart link but Person, Contact and Child fields can only be used once.

      Adding items to a form

      Each item has an icon, a name and a '+' icon which is visible when you hover over it.

      Items can be added to a form in the following ways:

      • Double clicking on an item will add it to the bottom of the form.
      • Clicking the + icon will add the item to the bottom of the form.
      • Dragging an item will place it into a specific place in the form.

      When an item is added to the form, it will show initially in edit mode with the ability to add a Smart link if relevant. As well as asking for a Name, you have the option to write some Help text and select whether or not a respondent is Required to answer the question.

      When adding items such as Checkbox list, Dropdown list and Radio list, you can specify Options which will be presented to the respondent.

      Complete the relevant fields and click Save to add the item to the form.

      As you add items to your form, on the right hand side you will see the form as it will look on the online form page. A drag handle enables you to reorder items and a drop down menu enables you to Edit, Delete and View changes to an item (if changes have been made).

      If you would like to view your form as respondents will see it, select Preview form which will show when a form is in Draft or when access is Private.

      Changes to an item are shown in a pop up.

      As well as the Edit option, a form item can be edited by double clicking anywhere on the item itself.

      At the bottom of the column is an Add item button. When selected, it presents a dropdown showing all of the available Standard fields and Elements for quick form building.

      When you have completed building your form, click Publish.

      Embed a video in a form

      You can easily embed a video in a form, surfacing it as a playable video within the public-facing Form Page. Here's how...

      When viewing a video, such as on the YouTube website, click the "Share" option on the YouTube video preview and select Copy embed code. You can also access this menu option by right-clicking on the video.

      Back in ChurchSuite, add Text to your form and click on the Action menu to surface the second row of HTML tools. Select the "Source code" tool designated by a <> icon.

      Paste the embed code for your video into the "Source code" viewer, pasting it into the appropriate place within the source code view and click Save. Next, use the Go to form option on the form's "View" page to preview how the video displays.

      The pasted embed code will usually include a parameter for setting the video's frame width and height. So in this example…

      <iframe width="894" height="503" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

      ...notice the width="894" and height="503". If the original width and height are not appropriate, these can be altered to fit within the form page’s available space.

      A published form will continue to show the Setup tab but it will be 'read only', showing the form items without the ability to edit them. A message will alert you that you need to click Set as draft in order to make changes to the form.

      When a form is published, the options at the top of the "View" page change.

      • Send invite enables you to send an invitation to respondents (see related support article).
      • Set as draft changes the form from Published to Draft. A form must be in draft mode in order to work on the Setup of the form, editing or deleting items.
      • Go to form takes you to the form's online page. Potential respondents can be sent an invitation to complete the form or the URL of this page can be emailed to them.

      A form's page respects the form's Start and End dates. If a form page is visited before the form's Start date, the form will not allow responses and a feedback message will state the date and time at which the form opens for responses.

      If a form page is visited after the form's End date, the form will not allow responses and a feedback message will state the date and time at which the form closed for responses.

      When someone clicks on a Public form's URL, the fields will be empty, awaiting completion. After completing the form and clicking Submit, the respondent will see a Success message and a record of their responses.

      Clicking Back will take the respondent back to their previously submitted form so that they can make any desired changes. Their completed form will have a unique response URL which can be visited at a later date if changes need to be made. The fields on a response URL are always pre-populated with the values which were submitted when the response was either created or last submitted. Submitting this form will edit the existing response and create change logs within ChurchSuite.

      When a respondent submits a form for the first time, a Notification email is sent to form Overseers, informing them that a new response has been submitted. A Confirmation email is sent to the person who submitted the form (as described below) and this email is logged in the person's communication log on their contact or child record when Send Invite has been used. The email includes any confirmation email content added within ChurchSuite as well as an automated summary of the submitted data. A confirmation email is also sent if a form is edited at a later date.

      Confirmation emails are sent as follows:

      • If a form response is linked to an invitation, the confirmation will be sent to the invitee’s email address.
      • If Send invite was not used, ChurchSuite will search for a smart linked Email field within the form. If there is a value in that field, a confirmation email will be sent to that email address.
      • If there is no smart linked Email field with a valid value on the form, ChurchSuite will find the first Email field within the form and send a confirmation email to that email address.
      • If there are no Email fields in the form and no linked invitation, a confirmation email will not be sent.

      Embedding a form in a website

      To embed a form within a website, add ?iframe=true to the end of the form URL and use this in an iframe eg

      For reference the full iframe code would look like this:

      <iframe src="" style="width: 100%; height: 600px; border: 0" scrolling="yes"></iframe>

      This will show the form without any logos, headers or whitespace so instead of this…

      ...the embedded form will show like this.

      When doing this, it’s important to remember that:

      • You will need to use Heading to give the form a title as the form Name (title) won't be shown when this method is used.

      • When a respondent clicks Submit, the Success message will appear within the iframe. The user will not be taken away from the website the iframe is in.

      Form responses

      Responses are only created when a form has been successfully submitted via the form page.

      Selecting the Responses tab shows a table with a row for each response. The table has a Search box for filtering by Person name and an Advanced Search with a filter for every field on the form. Responses can be downloaded using the Download CSV button.

      For Public and Private (non-anonymous) forms there is a Person column, a Responded column showing the date and time of the response and columns for each of the fields on the form. Submissions from a Public form URL are shown as Unlinked to any person within ChurchSuite. It is up to the ChurchSuite user to link them to an existing contact or child or to add them as a new person within ChurchSuite if appropriate.

      At the right hand side of each response is an Action menu.

      The Action menu options are:

      • Add contact - this launches a pop up which is pre-populated for adding a contact to the Address Book module. Only smart linked fields from the form will be populated. Any fields without smart links will be ignored. Note that the option to Add contact is only shown for Unlinked respondents who have completed a form which is visible in the Address Book.

      • Add child - this launches a pop up which is pre-populated for adding a child to the Children module. Only smart linked fields from the form will be populated. Any fields without smart links will be ignored. Note that the option to Add child is only shown for Unlinked respondents who have completed a form which is visible in the Children module.
      • Link to person / Edit person link - this launches a pop up which enables you to link the response to an existing contact or child. The same pop up can also be launched by clicking on the word Unlinked in the Person column. In order to help you link publicly submitted form responses to existing people within your database, ChurchSuite detects and suggests the best matches to make this process quick and easy. After examining the data in the form response, potential matches will be suggested. ChurchSuite will suggest Contacts if the form is only visible in Address Book and Children if the form is only visible in the Children module. Both Contacts and Children will be suggested if the form is visible in both modules. Linking does not happen automatically. Click on any of the potential matches to link the person to the response.

      No potential matches

      When there is valid data in the form response but no matches can be found, the pop-up will show that ChurchSuite was unable to match the response with anyone in the database.

      When there is not enough linked data in the submitted response to find potential matches, a pop-up message explains this. In this scenario, you may want to consider setting more fields as Required or perhaps Smart linking more fields if linking is important.

      In both of these scenarios, you can use the Search box and make your own selection in order to link the response to a Contact or Child.

      If an attempt is made to link a response to a contact or child who is already linked to a response, an error message will appear.

      A response can be unlinked from a Person or Contact by clicking the cross at the right of the contact's name to clear the Person field and then selecting Save.

      Note that Edit person link only shows for responses which are not linked to an invitation.

      • Delete deletes the response and View changes launches a pop up which details any changes which have been made to the initial response. View changes only shows when a respondent has edited their response after their initial form submission.

      When a response has been linked to a contact or child (either manually or because invitations were used) a Forms section shows at the right hand side of their record.

      This shows recent form activity, whether or not the person has responded to the forms. The oldest form is listed first and the date shown is either the invitation date or the date on which the form was submitted. The status of the person's response is also shown. Clicking on the name of a form in this list takes you to the form's "View" page in the Address Book or to the "View" page in the Children module if the form is not visible in the Address Book.

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