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.

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.

Decline

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.

Replace

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.

Requests

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.

Settings

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, 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!

Ben

  • This is great! I can’t wait to give this a try with some of our teams. 😁

    And the upcoming roadmap is exciting. 🤘🏻

  • Brandon Farr

    Good deal! Thanks for all the new fixes and releases and the upcoming features. Exciting.

  • kjbleck

    I’m so excited about this feature! Thank you for your dedication to adding and tweaking features that are practical and useful. Every blog update confirms to me that we made the right decision when we chose Elvanto for our church management program.

    • Hi Kathy! Glad to hear you’re enjoying it.

  • Samuel Vanderwood

    This is fantastic! Love that this new feature is available… I just activated it and there’s already one thing that would be so helpful for everyone:
    The ability to dictate what is a conflicting position and what is not a conflicting position. I know this is a big task, but as a portable church we require set up and take down crews, those people often serve in another capacity during service, but because the system thinks they conflict, they won’t show as potential swap options.

    • Hi Sam!

      We’re wanting to look into this ability in the future. It would have a few other benefits as well, especially with auto-scheduling among other areas. I’ll add your support to the feature request for it.

      Cheers,
      Stewart

      • Julie

        Yes! This is a big thing for us too so you can add my name to support the feature request too 🙂

  • Andy Stevens

    Love the idea of repeating unavailability!

    One suggestion for it: would be helpful if you could repeat unavailability for “X week of the month” (i.e. 1st, 2nd etc.), as you can for Volunteering Preferences.

  • Julie

    Loving the sound of the latest update – thanks!

    I would love the ability to add unavailability to a whole family. We have a number of elderly folk who don’t understand Elvanto and so give me their availability on a piece of paper. It is a bit cumbersome to be putting dates in for people individually. Could you look at the potential of adding a check box or something similar which would make all members of the family unavailable for particular dates? It would make it much more user friendly for families too I imagine.

    • Hi Julie!

      We’re actually looking at some options for this in the future!

  • Craig Stalder

    Great update! I love it!
    Though I’ve noticed two things which need improving:
    1. it doesn’t work on the app – when you click decline it simply takes you directly to “reason” and that’s it
    2. Same problem with email when you click decline it just asks for a reason rather than the option to swap or replace

    Thanks for your work!

    • Hi Craig.

      As mentioned in the post, we’ll have it included in the app in a future update, it’s not currently available.

      I’ll get the developers to look at the ability for the “Decline” button from the emails to bring up the swap/replace options for you though.

      • Craig Stalder

        oh sorry – must of missed that part about the app. Thanks so much!

  • Chris Derksen

    Love the updates! Thanks for all the hard work. I notice that if someone sets their unavailability to “not preferred” then they are not even an option to swap with. Could that be changed? Also, our services are 30 minutes apart, so having a conflict raised if scheduled an hour apart causes issues. It would be nice to have the “conflict” time reducible to 15 minutes. (Oh, and I already have “complaints” from folks that are asking why it doesn’t work in the app and am I aware of that “glitch”… 🙂 Looking forward to an updated app).

  • Jocelyn Woodford

    Hi, the swap/replace function is something we would love to be able to implement in our church. I see that the conflict issue has been discussed. For us being a smallish church plant in a school (again with setup, pack up etc.), our active serving members are almost always rostered onto something. I just tried for myself, requesting a swap or replacement. Basically, no time when I am rostered on does someone appear as a potential swap/replacement…so the function is unfortunately at the time of no use. It would be good at least to be able to see who the conflicted people are, and then be able to still make the request having judged if it is a “real” conflict. Also, the setting of conflicts appearing when services are 1 day apart as the minimum time is not helpful either, as we have ministries on a Monday. It would be good if the day conflict setting could include “same day” as an option. Thanks.

    • Hi Jocelyn,

      I’ll pass it along as feedback.

      For now though you can change the conflict time under Settings > Services > Roster though, and change the conflict time from 1 day to something smaller, like 2 hours etc.

      Hope this helps,
      Stewart

      • Allaina van Reeuwyk

        We have the same issue, being a small church plant. For some of our teams, we have the same person on setup from 9am-9:45 am and then (for example) on greeting team from 9:45am-10:30am. I have not been able to figure out a way to create our schedule like this, and changing the conflict time to 1 hour (which is the smallest option available), does not allow someone serving on greeting team to find a replacement for them for setup team. Do you have any suggestion?

        • Hi Allaina,

          From what I understand from your comment, that’s something slightly different to what’s mentioned above. The setting mentioned in the above comment is about conflicting between positions in other services. You’re wanting positions to not conflict within another service.

          That’s something we’re wanting to work on in the future, but unfortunately I don’t have a timeframe for it just yet.

          Stewart

      • Mark Underhill

        Hi Jocelyn,
        We have the same issue – and changing the time won’t help as we need to be able to allow people to do 2 (or more) jobs at the same time: which perfectly reasonable as they may not come at the same point in the service. I’d support the change to show people with conflicts as well as those with none, as a starting point.
        Ideally though it would be great to be able to setup the fact that some positions do not conflict with others eg Open church and Bible Reading. I realise this would need a grid – but it would be helpful.
        Mark

  • Josh

    G’day, I remember my church being super excited to use this feature but we’ve run into a problem with people serving on multiple different teams that have different leaders. It was tried out but if the person makes a swap for a team that is not for the team that they are assigned under then the leader for the team they did the swap in wasn’t notified.

    eg if I was assigned to the production team leader but was rostered to serve on the hosting team and swapped with someone for the hosting team role the production team leader would be notified but not the host team leader.

    I would have expected it to notify the rostered team for that event and the overall leader/admin for that team.

    I guess the question is this an issue? Is this accurate?

    • Hey Josh, both the production and hosting team leaders should be notified if everything is setup correctly. If you can email support at elvanto dot com with the name of the leader who didn’t get notified we can look into it further. Thanks for trying it out!

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