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Newsletter #7
May, 18 2011

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Dear BVCMS Community,

This newsletter contains tips, information about new features, and announcments of upcoming events. See past newsletters.

User News & Announcements

To keep you up-to-date, here are the latest news items and announcements from BVCMS.

Online Registrations

Summer is almost here and you know what that means—time to register your congregation for Vacation Bible School, Summer Camps, Ball Teams and more! Using online registrations through BVCMS can make this process so much easier for you and your office staff. Your members will love it and it will automate much of the back-office process. Read more

Kiosk Registrations

This is a feature that is not really new, but it is something that you may not know about. For those of you using the Child Checkin software that is part of BVCMS, this is just a variation on that. By checking Kiosk Registration on the checkin setup page, you can use your checkin kiosks to enroll people in rosters coded for kiosk registration. You can still do check-in as well. The key difference is that the classes are available on any day, not just the scheduled day. We use this the first few days of Vacation Bible School to enroll those who have not pre-registered. We have also used it for conferences where we allow people to register the day of the conference. Read more.

Extra Donation Feature

This new feature allows you to add an option to an online registration which offers the opportunity for the person registering to make an extra tax-decutible donation at the time they register. This donation will appear on their contribution statement. This new feature will also allow people to make sponsored donations for those going on mission trips. Read more.

Voting Buttons

We teased you with this feature last month by asking you to respond to a question by clicking a VoteLink. We have made enhancements to this feature and are now ready to tell you more about how it works. Basically, you compose an email to be sent through BVCMS. Inside the body of the email (using special notation), you will present what we call VoteLinks. When they click the link, they will be enrolled in an Organization, placed into specified small group and receive an email confirmation.

Here's a real use case: We needed counselors to help after our VBS Decision Service. We created an Organization and added a Confirmation email message. Then, we generated a query to find staff members, existing counselors and those who helped last year. The text of the email contained a short explanation about why they were receiving the email and asking them to click one of the two links. One link was "Yes I will be able to help"; the other one was "No I will not be able to help". Those clicking the "Yes" link see a message displayed telling them that they would receive an email confirmation; those clicking "No" see a message thanking them for responding. Eveyone who clicked one of the links was enrolled in the Organization and placed in either the "Yes" group or the "No" group.

This magic occurs because BVCMS knows who is getting each email and can tell who is clicking the link. No need to login, or find your profile. Registering could not be easier. We know you will think of other creative uses for these VoteLinks. Read more.

Admin Corner

Refresher Course

For those of you who have been using BVCMS for a long time now we would like to offer a refresher course of sorts. We have added so many features over the past year and want to make sure you are aware of them and are taking full advantage of them. Please use this link to schedule an online meeting with us so we can give you an update on these new features.

Query Bits—Addition to Query Builder

Last month we told you that we had implemented a new condition to Query Builder, our first in quite a while. We were not expecting to announce another new addition so soon, but here we are...with something new again!

This time it is more than just a new condition; it's a new way of treating query results. We call it Query Bits and it is a feature we are making available for use by Admins right now. Basically, this will allow an Admin to create a set queries and save them using a special naming convention. Then, the admin can execute the Admin>Update Query Bits item on the menu. This will run each query behind the scenes and record a bit of information for each person satisfying the conditions of the query. The process of updating the Query Bits is intended to run as a batch job every night. This will allow exports using Query Bits to run very fast during the day. Finally, for any list of people, a Query Bit export can be generated showing the results of these bits of information.

Here's a use case: you want to track a group of people who are new to your church, so you put them in a tag. You create several special Query Bit queries with information that you want to track about these people. For example: queries for those who have completed their baptism; those who have joined a small group; those who are actively attending groups or events; those who have attended a new member class. Once the queries have been created and updated, you can then go to your tagged group and run the Query Bits export. The export will contain one line per person and one column per Query Bit with X's indicating whether that person is found in the query. This gives you a quick way to track the assimilation progress of your prospects and/or new members. You will think of many other use cases, I'm sure.

We'll write a blog post and some wiki documentation on how to use Query Bits soon.

Developer News

Help Received

I'm very pleased to tell you that since last month's appeal for developer help, we now have two new developers who have stepped forward to join us in the open source development of BVCMS. We'll tell you more about them as they become more plugged in to the project. This is probably a good time to remind you of the benefits of open source. Here are a few of those benefits:

Freedom – The customer is in control of BVCMS. No single company can control and own the software.
– All churches benefit and can contribute to the project, larger churches by sponsoring development of new features and smaller churches with testing, feedback and new ideas.
Ownership – Once a church uses BVCMS, they begin to think of new uses and ideas to make it better. The more they become involved in providing feedback, suggesting new ideas or sponsoring new development, they see their influence come to life and begin to feel a real sense of ownership.

We have many projects on the drawing board and are looking forward to having these new developers jump in and help us.

Here are just a few projects we are working on: online giving; weekly attendance mode (for groups that meet more than once, but expect members to attend only once); web-based checkin for use with Androids or iPads; new design changes; and Facebook integration.

David Carroll
BVCMS Developer

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