Posts tagged 'volunteer rostering'

New Media Player and More!

Hi Everyone!

Last week we released an update to the Member Roster page. While on the surface it looks similar, we have made lots of small improvements under the hood and a completely new media player that we’d love to tell you about!

Media Player 1

The media player now launches at the bottom of the page so you can continue using it when viewing the current service or browsing other services.

Media Player 2

Whilst we previously had some video integration with the player, it was limited in what it could play. Exciting to us (and hopefully to you too), we have added YouTube and Vimeo integration into the player and these will play in the playlist alongside your other audio and video files.

Media Player 3

Video is too small? Click ‘Expand’ Expand and voila, nice and big for your viewing/learning/listening pleasure! Or, click ‘minimize’ Expand to tuck the media player completely to hide it but keep playing!

Song Files

We’ve also taken great care in improving the ease of access to song charts & lyrics. We now include all relevant files, whether attached to the song, arrangement or key, in both the service plan and the songs box. This also now includes the generated number/roman numeral charts.

What’s next?

We are working on improving the integration of swap and replace in both the member area and in the upcoming version 2 of the mobile app. This will make creating, and responding to, swaps and replaces easier than ever.

The mobile app version 2 will also include a brand new media player supporting playlists and background controls from your device.

Anything else?

For all those ‘techies’ or if you just like to read the fine-print, our releases website has had facelift. And if you’re really ‘bleeding edge’ it now offers the page feed in the new (and hugely popular) JSON Feed format!

We hope you enjoy it as much as we do, we’d love to hear your feedback!

Volunteer Swap & Replace is out of BETA!

Good news! Volunteer Swap & Replace is now out of BETA!

You can view the original announcement here which contains details on how to get set-up. We also have a help article you can send to your volunteers on how to create a swap or replace once you’re live.

Some features we will be working on soon to make this feature better:

  • Choose positions that do not conflict with each other.
  • Disable declining and force volunteers to swap or replace.

Enjoy and make sure you send feedback on how we can improve!


Introducing Volunteer Swap & Replace BETA

Today I am pleased to announce that the BETA version of Volunteer Swap & Replace is here!

This feature empowers your volunteers to organize their own swaps and replaces once they have been scheduled for a service. This means your leaders do not have to get involved and volunteers do not need to send out emails, text messages or try catch people at church to organize a swap or replacement. This is an exciting feature that will revolutionise volunteer swaps!

Swap vs Replace: What are they?

There are two options you can now choose to enable in your account. Before I go on there are two groups of people we’ll discuss in this article.

  1. Requestor – the volunteer who would like to swap or be replaced
  2. Requestee – a volunteer who the Requestor has asked to swap or replace them.

Now that’s cleared up, I’ll explain both swap and replace.

Swap allows a Requestor to ask Requestees who are scheduled for other services to swap with them. Elvanto will find services to swap with that match the same service type and location as the Requestor’s service.

Replace allows the Requestor to be replaced by a Requestee. There is no swap or trade, a Requestee simply fills in for the Requestor. Elvanto will find Requestees who in their profile, match the same service type and location assigned to the Requestor’s service.

Both scenarios check for availability, conflicts, and scheduling preferences so that only Requestees who are available will be included in a request. Same goes for when searching for services they can swap with. Only services the Requestor is available to swap with will be options.

How it Works

Once enabled in settings (we’ll talk about that further on), a Requestor can send out requests by clicking the same ‘Decline’ button found on their roster.


Once clicked, they’ll be asked if they would like to swap with another volunteer, be replaced or decline. These options can be configured in settings.


Creating a ‘Swap’ Request

Elvanto will find services and Requestees available to swap with. The Requestor is then given the power to choose what services or Requestees they’d like to ask.

Swap List

On the left, is a list of all upcoming services (within the timeframe you’ve set under Settings > Services > Roster) and the right are the Requestees scheduled for the services on the left.

Only services and Requestees who are available to swap with the Requestor will be displayed. Elvanto takes the following into consideration before including a Requestee:

  • Their service must be assigned the same location and service type as the Requestor’s service
  • They must not conflict with the Requestor’s service
  • They must be available
  • Their volunteer scheduling preferences must allow them to be scheduled
  • They must be assigned the same department position that the Requestor wishes to be replaced

Unlike finding a replacement (more on this below), we don’t take the Requestees assigned departments, locations or service types from their profile into account. We simply look for Requestees who are scheduled on the same position, in a matching service.

The Requestor can select which services they want to swap with and/or the Requestees they’d like to include. Unchecking either side will toggle the available services and Requestees.

Looking at the screenshot below, only Aretha is scheduled on for the second service, so only she shows in the list of Requestees.

In the same way, only Aaron is scheduled on for the first service, so only she shows in the list of Requestees.

Swap List 2

Creating a ‘Replace’ Request

When finding a replacement, Elvanto will ask the Requestor who they want to send the request to.


Like swaps, Elvanto will only find Requestees who are available to replace the Requestor. Elvanto takes the following things into consideration before including a Requestee:

  • They must not conflict with the service
  • They must be available
  • Their volunteer scheduling preferences must allow them to be scheduled
  • They must be assigned the same location and service type as the service in their profile
  • They must be assigned the same department position that the Requestor wishes to be replaced in their profile

Accepting or Declining Requests

Once a request has been created, Requestees will be sent an email that includes the service the Requestor would like to swap or replace. If it’s a swap, it will also give a selection of services that the Requestee is scheduled on for them to choose from.

Replace Email

When a Requestee logs into their Elvanto account, they will see swap and replace requests in the Member Area just like they would any other scheduling request.


With a click of a button, a Requestee can accept the swap and instantly, both the Requestor’s and Requestee’s roster are updated. Along with that all reports to people for both the Requestor and Requestee are notified of the change. If there were any Requestees who had not responded, they will also be notified that their response is no longer required.

Requestees can also decline. Once all Requestees decline, only then will the Requestor be notified that the request was unsuccessful. The request will be canceled and it’s up to the Requestor to decide what to do. They can try another swap or replace request (they may have unchecked a few names or services in their original request) but Elvanto will not allow them to send the request to the same Requestees who have already declined in the other request.

Canceling Requests

Apart from all Requestees declining the request, a request can be canceled manually or automatically. The Requestor can cancel a request at any time from their roster and all Requestees who have not responded will be notified of the cancelation.

You can also in settings enable a feature where requests will be automatically canceled. You could, for instance, set requests to be canceled 2 days before a service starts. Once it’s 2 days before a service, the request will be canceled automatically and both the Requestor and Requestees (who haven’t responded yet) will be notified. This way requests don’t drag on until the day of the service. Nobody likes last minute cancelations.

Getting Set Up

The new settings can be found under Settings > Services > Roster.


Prevent Swap & Replace

This setting controls the timeframe before a service starts that Requestors can send out a new swap or replace request.

Cancel Pending Requests

Once a service comes within the timeframe set here, any pending swap or replace requests will be canceled automatically.

Department Options

For each department in your account, you can set if you would like to allow swap and/or replace requests. Some departments may want both, some only one type and others want it disabled altogether. This allows your different teams, to have better control over how they want to handle this feature.

Mobile App Updates

We are working hard to update our mobile app to include swap and replace. We are not satisfied with the rate of feature releases in the mobile app so we are currently spending time reworking the mobile app to make it much faster to develop. It’s slowed us down a little but it means we can add a bunch more features to the mobile app in a short period. We are almost there and we appreciate your patience!

BETA Period

Although it’s ready to go, we’ll run the BETA for 4 weeks to ensure we’ve ironed out all the little bugs. We’ve been testing thoroughly but there will most likely be certain configurations or scenarios that we’ve missed.

Please send through any glitches, bugs or annoyances through to our support team if you’re keen to get your hands dirty during the BETA period!

Other Updates

We’ve also been working on a few other improvements.

  • Added the ability for volunteers to submit repeating unavailability
  • Added an ‘Export Billing Contacts’ button in the invoices & tickets tab of events
  • Exported form submissions now display approval status, and if the submission is archived in separate columns
  • Added new date formatting options to settings., dd-mm-yyyy and yyyy-mm-dd
  • Added the ability to choose to hide the tax or pledge overview when generating giving statements
  • Added new access permission options to split up the edit permission for events. Users can now have access to specific tabs only
  • Refreshed user interface for ‘Roster’, ‘My Profile’ & ‘Settings’ with clearer headings and page tabs
  • Improved on the layout of the service reporting mass add individuals window based on feedback after release
  • In song arrangements, ‘Default Arrangement has been renamed as ‘Standard Arrangement’ for all new arrangements created
  • Improved alphabetical sorting of names in the mass add individuals to services so A-Z and a-z are considered the same and sorted the same
  • Improved the JavaScript embed code for calendars and forms to comply with browser support in the future
  • Improved the activity tab in people’s profiles to load faster

Along with that plenty of bug fixes and improvements. Check out the releases page for the full list.

What’s Next?

We’ve been working on custom fields in groups (which we’ll be using for the group finder that’s coming), event registration improvements, check-in version 2, updated mobile app, API version 2 plus many more goodies! Watch this space!

Have a great week!


Improvements to scheduling volunteers onto services!

Wowsers, it’s only 2 sleeps till Christmas here in Aussie land! However, for those who (possibly) enjoy the snow for Christmas every year, unfortunately I don’t get that pleasure. Hot and hotter here! Anyway, enough about the weather and more with the updates!

Quicker rostering…

The first update we have made when scheduling a volunteer onto a service is the ability to click a little plus button next to each position. This will then automatically load the volunteers who can  serve in that position.

This is super quick and saves you having to dig through the departments to find the desired position.

Handle conflicts and unavailabilities quickly…

In the past when you chose a member and there was a reason why they couldn’t be scheduled due to a conflict or unavailability, you could click the Find Another Member button. This was great however you had to click through the departments to load the volunteers again.

From now on it will remember what department and position you originally selected and load the volunteers straight away for quicker results!

Set the default Reports To for members…

You can now set who a member reports to by default when you edit their profile in the admin. Once you’ve done this, next time that member is scheduled onto a service, it will automatically choose the default ‘Reports To’ member.

The scheduler can always override this if they want.

And that’s a wrap! To everyone of our elvanto users and visitors, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hope you all have a great time with the family, eat lots of food and exersize thoroughly afterwards 😉

Ben Sinclair
Creater of elvanto

New way to roster your volunteers, email notifications, plus more cool updates

elvanto is two weeks old tomorrow. How exciting! I’ve been a busy little bee the past couple of weeks… On top of getting the word out there about elvanto, I have also been making some much needed updates to keep elvanto on the cutting edge!

So, what’s new? Here we go…

New way to roster your volunteers

We’ve decided to recreate the way you roster your volunteers into something more efficient and powerful. The old way was great but as your volunteer army grows and grows, the way we had it set-up just wasn’t going to cut it.

You will now see a new big Roster A New Member button when you edit a service and click the ‘Roster Members’ button. When this new button is clicked it now gives you two options: Search Members and Browse Members.

If you know the name of the volunteer you want to roster on, simply start typing their name into the search box provided and it will bring up a selection of names to choose from.

In the case where you don’t know the name of the volunteer you can easily browse through your departments to find the volunteer you want to roster on. Once you’ve selected the department, sub department and position (this only takes 3 quick clicks), it will then bring up a list of volunteers who can be rostered for that position. You can also filter those volunteers by their location as well.

Once you find the volunteer you wish to roster on, it will now come up with a screen with some cool little options.

Option 1. Let volunteers accept or decline being rostered on

You can now choose the status of the volunteer. By default this is set to ‘Unconfirmed’ which means you are waiting to hear back from the volunteer whether they can serve at this service and in that position. Sorry to jump ahead. Just so you’re in the loop, elvanto now has the functionality to allow you to email your volunteers and ask them to accept or decline a request to serve on a service. We’ll cover that below in the next section.

Option 2. Quickly choose their rostered position

Just like the ‘Browse Members’ screen in the first screenshot, you can quickly choose where you want the volunteer to be rostered on in 3 clicks.

Option 3. Schedule a notification to be sent to the volunteer

Like I mentioned above, elvanto can now email your volunteers and ask them to accept or decline a request to serve at a service. You can choose to schedule a notification email to be sent to them by simply clicking the checkbox. You can also choose who the volunteer reports to. The ‘Reports To’ user will be notified when the volunteer accepts or declines the request to be rostered on.

Email notifications

Another really exciting new feature is email notifications!

Basically how these work is after you and your team have finished with a roster, you can click the Email Members button (this can be found on the ‘Edit Service’ and ‘Roster Members’ pages). This will then open up a screen allowing you to filter through the volunteers who are rostered on.

After filtering your members an email template will appear along with a list of email recipients who are the volunteers found under your filter results. You can edit the email template and also delete email recipients.

Once you click the Send Email button, an email will be dispatched to all of the email recipients. The email will contain your email template and also list the position(s) the volunteer has been rostered onto. The volunteer can then click a button which will take them to their account. They can then choose to ‘Accept’, ‘Decline’, or ‘Decide Later’ on their rostered position(s). If they choose to decline they are required to fill in a reason so that you know why they declined.

Once the volunteer has ‘Accepted’ or ‘Declined’ a roster request, the ‘Reports To’ user (which we talked about earlier in this post) will be emailed notifying them of the decision made by the volunteer.

That’s not all! The next part I love! If the volunteer has declined, it will give the ‘Reports To’ user a list of other volunteers available to serve in the position that was declined. With one click of a button you can be taken to a screen to roster another volunteer on!

Plus more…

There are also a few other little updates we managed to pump out as well 🙂

A special iPhone/iPad login screen

Nothing major but it makes logging in from an iPhone or iPad a heck of a lot easier. More iPhone/iPad functionality are on their way 🙂

Custom iPhone/iPad Home Screen icons

You can upload an icon that will be used when a volunteer adds a link to your account to the Home Screen of their iPhone or iPad. You can edit this under Account Settings -> Customise layouts.

Add multiple notes to services

Multiple notes can now be added to a service. You can also specify the note to only be seen by specific departments or sub departments.

Design improvements

We have made some minor design improvements to the user interface to make everything a little easier to see and use.

What next?

Lots and lots of tweaks and updates are on the way in the up coming weeks.

One exciting feature is the ability to add your runsheet for a service and then have the ability to view the runsheet while a service is running on a desktop computer, laptop, iPad or iPhone. This way your whole team can be kept up to date with where the service is at without having to find that piece of paper that they left somewhere with the roster on it. We’ll reveal more about this in the near future 🙂

That’s it for now! Looking forward to talking to you again soon!

Ben Sinclair
Creator of elvanto