Integrating with Textlocal (SMS)
You can send and receive SMS messages directly from ChurchSuite by completing an integration with Textlocal. One advantage of an SMS integration is the ability to bulk-send messages to multiple people, perhaps a group or even everyone in your Address Book!
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Textlocal SMS costs
It's free to open a Textlocal account and there is no minimum spend or ongoing monthly subscription – you simply purchase bundles of credits on a pay-as-you-go basis. Textlocal credits can be purchased in bundles from 500 credits. Textlocal will alert you when your account credits are getting low. Top-up is online through your Textlocal account control panel.
Further information about Textlocal standard pricing can be found here. For UK-registered charities, Textlocal offers discounted pricing of 2.8p + VAT per SMS). Click here to request the discounted pricing for your account before purchasing your first bundle of credits.
When you open a free account with Textlocal they will assign you a free Keyword. However, for an additional monthly cost, Textlocal can provide you with a "custom" Keyword; perhaps something that better represents your organisation's name e.g. "KHC" for "Kings Hope Church". Further details can be found on the Textlocal website.
A single SMS is 160 characters, so messages exceeding that length will use more than 1 credit, however, longer messages can be sent, resulting in multiple messages being strung together to create a single long SMS. Seven hidden characters are used to join each message together so that it delivers readable as one long SMS. This can make calculating long message costs complicated, as a single message can be up to 160 characters but multiple conjoined messages are calculated in multiples of 153, i.e. 160 characters minus the 7 hidden characters used to merge the messages together.
|The message will be truncated to 765 characters.
Note: Message lengths are a restriction of SMS and are imposed by the networks, not Textlocal. The above credit costs are based on sending to local numbers.
Setting up Textlocal integration
To begin sending SMS messages through ChurchSuite you first need to complete the Textlocal integration. Navigate to the Integrations section of the Administrator area and click on Textlocal.
Next, you will need to enter your Textlocal account details. Begin this process by clicking the Add Account button.
On the Add account pop-up, enter a Name by which this Textlocal account will be known within ChurchSuite (e.g. General SMS, Church SMS, etc). You also have the option to set the Default From for this account (i.e. the default name from which an SMS sent out from this account will appear as having come) and select the authorised Users who can send SMS messages from this account. Note that only authorised Users selected will be able to send messages.
See the next section for obtaining the API Key.
Obtaining the API Key
The Textlocal API Key is what allows ChurchSuite to securely connect to and use your Textlocal account without requiring an account username and password (both of which may be changed over time).
Begin by logging into your Textlocal account in a new browser tab (you'll return to the Integration later). Hover over the Settings menu and select API Keys.
A list of any existing API Keys is shown. If there are no API Keys listed click Create New Key.
When prompted, ignore requests to enter IP Addresses - do not assign IP addresses, otherwise, you'll experience "Invalid username or password" errors since ChurchSuite is unable to send from your IP address. Click Save New Key.
The API Key is generated. Copy the API Key (all the numbers and letters) from the API Key List in Textlocal...
...and paste it into the API Key field of the Textlocal integration and click Save.
You can return to the Textlocal integration at any time, perhaps to Add additional accounts or Edit and make changes to the list of authorised Users, or choose a different Default account.
As long as you're one of the designated authorised users, you're now ready to send SMS messages through ChurchSuite!
Authorising Users to send SMS
Since sending an SMS incurs a cost to your organisation, only Authorised Users can send messages. In your Textlocal integration page, select Edit from the list of Accounts (shown below).
On the Edit pop-up, search and select the Users that are authorised to send messages.
Sending text messages through ChurchSuite
When sending an SMS the Send SMS pop-up is pre-populated with the default SMS From settings from your Textlocal integration, but this can be overtyped with any valid mobile number (to which replies would be received).
Note that Merge Fields can be used for SMS personalisation and you can select a Preset SMS. Next, type your message.
You'll be alerted if the character count exceeds 160.
Click Preview SMS to review the message and Add, Remove or Clear recipients, or go Back to edit the message. Click Send SMS to send or schedule the message.
FAQs and common resolving issues
Q: Can I see a log of sent SMS communications?
A: Yes. You can see sent communications listed in the Communication report in the corresponding Address Book, Children or Giving module reports section. You can also see further, more detailed logging in your Textlocal control panel.
Q: Textlocal's Terms of Service say that failure to include a STOP "opt-out" message in all outbound SMSs is a breach of their terms of service. How does ChurchSuite handle this?
Since ChurchSuite already includes comprehensive communication preferences to enable people to easily opt-in/out of receiving SMS messages, Textlocal has agreed with ChurchSuite that they will not enforce that term from their terms of service. It's therefore not necessary to include a STOP "opt-out" option in your outbound SMS message.