Blog

Changes to Gmail for Email Sending

About 2 years ago, we outlined changes to the way certain emails are sent via Elvanto to your users. As expected, Google has now decided to make the same changes as Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail & others.

In short, all emails sent via Elvanto using an ‘@gmail.com’ address will no longer be able to be sent directly. Instead they will be sent from ’email@elvan.to’. Our email provider outlines this very well and in greater detail in this blog post.

While this will only affect you if you’re using an ‘@gmail.com’ address, we’re expecting many other free email providers to follow suit. Because of this, we’re making some changes on our end to make this seamless and as future proof as possible. We’ll be implementing this over the coming weeks.

Why is this changing?
For the same reasons as Yahoo, AOL & Hotmail, this is happening primarily to prevent email spoofing (email being sent using your email address) and thus reduce spam.

When will these changes come in effect?
Google is making the official cutover in June 2016 however, this will come into effect on all Elvanto accounts no later than April 26, 2016.

What does this really mean for me?
Simply put, very little. Our system will handle the changes for you and no intervention will be required. What may be noticeable to your users will the from address showing ‘Joh Smith <email@elvan.to>’ rather than ‘John Smith <example@gmail.com>’. However, your users’ replies will still return to ‘example@gmail.com’, so there will be no disruptions and visually this is essentially a cosmetic change.

Have a sensational week! 🙂

Aaron

Dashboards, Forms and a new Assets area

Although we’ve been a little quiet this past month, there’s a lot that’s been happening behind the scenes! Let’s get into this week’s release 🙂

Service Statistics Dashboard Widget

We’ve now added a ‘Service Attendance Statistics’ widget to the dashboard. This initial release gives you attendance numbers for services over a timeframe, but we’ll be adding the ability to show a graph version of attendance in the coming months.

widget preview

Form Improvements

In preparation for our Event Registration update, we’ve been working on Forms to get them a little more up-to-scratch. Here’s some of the highlights:

Unpublished Forms

Previously, you could either mark a form as ‘published’ or ‘archived’. We’ve now added a third option – ‘unpublished’. Any new form will be unpublished by default to make it easier to work with and distinguish between forms.

Form Lockdowns

In the past, a user with access to Forms saw all forms by default. Now, there are more options. They are as follows:

form-access

Form Header Images and Rich Text Descriptions

You can now add header images to forms. These appear in both iFrame embeds and when people are linked directly to the form. Please note, these changes won’t come through in Javascript embedded forms, as we like to allow you to choose the styling of JavaScript embeds  yourself (that’s the whole point of them!).

You can also have rich text description fields which allow you to customize how the text appears (and gives you the freedom to edit these fields similar to other rich text areas like Posts and Pages).

Form Custom Fields

Form custom fields themselves aren’t new, but what is new is that custom fields are now form-specific, and won’t affect the fields in other forms like they did before. Each form now has its own list of custom fields.

Search and Filter

You can now sort, filter and search forms in a similar way to other areas of the system.

forms list

Asset Improvements

We’re working to make assets more user friendly in the system, which means in this update we’ve made several changes. The main change is Assets have been moved from within ‘Calendar’ to ‘Settings’. This will allow us to make Assets more global for things like linking Check-in rooms etc (more on that to come).

Admin Approval Notifications

Asset administrators will now see assets pending approval in their notification dropdown at the top of their account.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 1.07.45 PM

Managing Assets

We’ve now added the ability to specify the required time between bookings (e.g: there might be a 30-minute cleaning window for a room that you need to factor in), and we’ve also allow you to specify custom accept/decline booking templates on a per-asset basis (rather than a generic email). Asset Management

Other Noteworthy Updates…

Along with these larger updates, we’ve been busy with a number of other areas:

  • You can now choose if users can edit or add family members from their My Profile area.
  • You can now specify ‘No Location Assigned’, ‘No Demographic Assigned’ etc in built-in reports.
  • You can now adjust the timeout for self check-in to help out those parents who get distracted mid-check-in (previously set to 15 seconds).
  • We improved how you edit admins within people flows.
  • A number of bug fixes and small tweaks here and there.

We’ve got plenty more coming in the next few months, and there’s lots we’re excited about! For full details about this release, check out our release notes.

EU Server Upgrade March 2016

Update: Migration was a complete success! Thanks for your patience today!

At our last EU server upgrade, we mentioned that more power would be coming to the EU. That time is now upon us!

We will be performing an upgrade on Tuesday, 8 March 2016 2015 at 5:00:00 AM UTC time to speed up and improve the server and we’ve blocked a 90 minute scheduled outage to ensure everything is working as it should.

Our EU server customers are spread out across the globe, we’ve tried to schedule this at a time that should affect you least.

Have a sensational weekend! 🙂

Aaron

How to Share What Matters Most in Your Communications

Hey everyone,

I want to take a chance to introduce myself.

My name is Ryan Holck and I help churches identify and solve communication challenges that keep them from growing.

Since November, Hannah and I have been chatting about some of the recurring communication challenges we see. Our discussions led to the idea of me doing a ‘blog takeover’ for the next couple months.

What does that mean exactly? Well don’t worry, I’m not going to get super technical 🙂 I just want to share some foundational things to help improve the quality of communications in your church, and see an increase in audience response. I truly believe that when the audience response increases, there is numerical growth in the church.

Sound good? Let’s dive in.

One of the top struggles I see is with churches Knowing What To Communicate. Here’s what I mean.

We spend hours creating amazing ministry opportunities designed for life change. We announce it on Sunday and put it in the bulletin, but people aren’t engaged. Uncertain about its importance, and with a busy schedule, they put off committing until the last moment, and don’t attend. It’s the exact ministry they need right now and they pass on it!

Why?

Maybe it’s because we gave them information without inspiration. We talked about an event without inspiring them by sharing what was in it for them.

So how do we change this scene?

It’s going to sound crazy, but it starts with asking the right questions. They lay a foundation for what is coming and give us guardrails to keep us on task.

There are five questions to help determine…

How to Share What Matters Most in Your Communications

1) What problem, need, goal are you addressing with this event / opportunity?

Let’s face it, most people are self absorbed. Sometimes it is just plain narcissism, but most of the time it’s busyness.

Think through your past week… what caught your attention enough to make you stop in your tracks? Most likely it was something that addressed an issue you have or need to solve.

Your church and community is no different. They are are always asking “What’s in it for me?”

Clearly articulate the problem you’re solving, or benefit you’re offering, and people will listen differently.

2) If I had no prior knowledge about this event / opportunity, what information would I need to participate?

(date, time, location, who its for, cost, registration info, etc.)

A solution without information is useless.

Typical announcements say something like this…

“Join us Wednesday for bible study!”

Uhhhh, that sounds great but I have more questions now than when we started!

Who is it for? Men, women, students? Where is it at? The church, a coffee shop, someone’s home? What are they studying and how does it apply to me?

It’s easy to approach church events, especially recurring one, from the viewpoint of a connected person. It’s more time consuming to consider the questions of a guest. Think about the person who wants to connect, but needs more details, and everything changes.

3) How can you promote this event / opportunity in a way that makes it accessible to the unchurched?

“Join our Wednesday night Bible study on the book of Proverbs beginning next week!”

For the churched that might be enough, for the unchurched, not so much.

Without context, a study in Proverbs means nothing to them. They don’t know what the book is about or that it’s even in the Bible.

Making something accessible to the unchurched doesn’t mean we have to water it down. It means we have to make it understandable.

How do we do that?

Tell them about the event in a way that applies to them and shows the benefit of participating, regardless of their biblical knowledge.

We could share about the same Bible study like this…

“Life can be confusing! Join our adult Bible study as we talk through practical ways to gain wisdom and understanding. Wednesdays, 7pm, Main Office Lobby.”

4) Hows does your community and ministry target get information about events / opportunities?

Every community and age group has its own communication culture, a way it shares information on a daily basis. Through personal invitation, social media, community events or online, your community is listening.

The question is whether your church is speaking in the spaces where people are already listening. Unsure of how members of your community communicate? Ask them… the gospel is too important to mess this up.

5) Which communication channels will you focus your attention on?

This is the fun part! Taking into consideration what you need to say and how people are listening, you can decide which ways you will promote. Don’t get overwhelmed by the variety of options available, just get started.

It’s better to focus on a few channels and do them well. So, pick an area (or two) and begin sharing. Watch how people respond and make adjustments as needed. Striving to be part of an ongoing conversation that offers life through the solutions you offer.

There you have it. My five questions to help you share what matters most in your communications. I’d encourage you to take action and implement these questions in your communication planning.

You can let me know how using these questions has helped your ministry by commenting below or emailing me directly: ryan@rad-ideas.com

I look forward to chatting again soon.

Blessings,
Ryan

DYMO Label Printing Updates

rsz_dymo-printer

If you’ve been following the DYMO Developers blog then you would have read that DYMO has been working hard on some improvements to make label printing more consistent across operating systems and browsers.

Their latest updates went out of beta in December and they also released some fixes early January. We like to give developers time to iron out bugs in new releases before implementing into Elvanto.  Now that we have done this, we are now confident to integrate the new updates into our software.

DYMO have worked to ensure backwards compatibility but to be safe we want to ensure all of our customers are up-to-date with the latest DYMO Label Software before we go live next Tuesday (23rd February).

DYMO have now released version 8.5.3 of their DYMO Label Software which we encourage you all to upgrade to.

Here’s the download links:

Please note that if you already have 8.5.3 installed, please ensure you have version 8.5.3.1897 on Windows or 8.5.3.2009 on Mac OS X installed. These new versions of 8.5.3 fix a few bugs.

Once the updates are installed, DYMO will place a service on your computer that monitors printing from your browser. You might see a little DYMO icon in your taskbar. What this does is remove your browsers need to be compatible to print to a DYMO label printer. This need is the past is what has caused so many issues to date. The new solution DYMO have come up with is brilliant and should hopefully make life easier for us all.

Please ensure you test printing with plenty of time before your next service. We’ve tested on Mac OS X El Capitan, Windows 8 and Windows 10 and all tests worked flawlessly.

If you run into any problems:

  1. Try restarting your computer,
  2. then try uninstalling and reinstalling the software,
  3. and if all else fails contact our team and we’ll see what we can do to help.

Big thanks to DYMO for making this possible! And for all you Google Chrome lovers, you can go back to using the best browser again (yes I’m a little biased)!

Have a great week!

Ben

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