You can configure CiviCRM to automatically send emails to contacts as part of your organisational processes. For example, you can set up an evaluation email to be automatically sent to participants the day after they attend a training. Or you can send a series of emails to contacts asking them to renew their membership as they approach their membership end date (available starting in 4.2).
There are three components of CiviCRM that support scheduled emails:
All information about scheduled reminder emails is at Administer > Communications > Schedule Reminders.
Scheduled reminders can also be set up from the relevant component pages; for example, reminders for an event can be set up on the event configuration pages.
The most important feature of scheduled reminders is that, unlike other mass emails and those sent via the Send Email function, tokens representing information about events, activities, and memberships can be included. (See the chapter on tokens in Working with Your Data ifor a full explanation of tokens.) This allows you to insert information such as event addresses, references to specific activities, and the like.
Creating and managing scheduled reminders
Scheduled reminders can be created from the either scheduled reminders administration page at Administer > Communications > Schedule Reminders or from the relevant component pages.
From the administration page:
- Click on Add Reminder.
- Give your reminder a name that will help you identify it if you need to edit it in the future.
- Select an entity for your scheduled reminder (e.g., Activity, Event Type, Event Name, Membership). This will will bring up a further set of options relevant to that entity: activities have activity types and statuses; membership gives membership types and statuses, and so on.
- Choose when to send the reminder. This can be a set date or an amount of time before or after the start or end of your chosen entity.
- If you want to send more than one reminder, check the Repeat box. This gives you choices about the interval of repetition and when the repetition should end.
- Choose your recipients. For more about on your choices, see the entity-specific information below.
- Compose your email. You can use Message Templates or write the email from scratch. Note that you cannot save your message as a new template or modify an existing template from this screen, so if you are writing an email reminder for the first time and you think you will want to re-use it, consider creating it as a Message Template instead.
- Click Save when you are are done.
Reminders can be edited, disabled, or deleted from Administer > Communications > Schedule Reminders.
IMPORTANT: Your system administrator will need to ensure that the Send Scheduled Reminders scheduled job is enabled and runs at least once a day. Refer to the Scheduled Jobs chapter for configuration details.
Using scheduled reminders for Events
Event reminders can be set up via the Scheduled Reminders administration screen (as detailed above) or from the Schedule Reminders screen in the event configuration workflow. (To get there, either click the Schedule Reminders tab when setting up an Event, or Configure > Schedule Reminders next to your event on the Manage Events screen.) The steps to configure the reminder are the same as from the administration screen (see above).
Any reminder set up from the event configuration screen applies only to that specific event. If you would like to send out reminders for all events of a certain type (for example, evaluation forms after workshops), you should use the Scheduled Reminders administration screen.
Configuration options for Event reminders:
- To people associated with a specific event or all events of one Event Type (e.g., conference, meeting)
- By Participant Status (e.g., registered, attended, cancelled, no-show)
- By Participant Role (e.g., volunteer, attendee, speaker)
- To a manually selected group of contacts
- To a pre-existing Group
Since you have so many configuration options, you could set up an event reminder for almost any purpose you can think of. Here are a few examples:
- Send an email to the volunteers for your annual fundraising dinner the day before the event reminding them what time to arrive.
- Send fundraising emails to the attendees of all your trainings the day after trainings are held.
- Ask for feedback from event attendees.
- Send a thank-you email to your event speakers and hosts.
- Email people who registered but didn't show up for your event to gather information about why.
Using scheduled reminders for Activities
All scheduled reminders for Activities must be set up at Administer > Communications > Schedule Reminders.
Configuration options for Activity reminders:
- To people associated with Interviews, Meetings, Phone Calls, Print PDF Letters, and any custom Activity Types you create
- By Activity Status (e.g., scheduled, completed, cancelled)
- By relationship to the Activity (i.e., Activity Assignees, those in the Assigned To field; Activity Targets, those in the With Contact field; Activity Sources, the logged-in user who added the Activity)
- To a manually selected group of contacts
- To a pre-existing Group
Here are some ways you might want to use reminders for Activities:
- Log calls with major donors via the Phone Call activity and automatically send emails to your executive director containing the Activity Details.
- Send reminders to your staff about the interviews they are assigned to conduct.
- Send notifications to the person who scheduled an activity that it has been completed.
- Send thank-you notes to people who met with you.
Using scheduled reminders for Memberships
You can set up emails to be sent out to members based on various characteristics of their membership, including the membership type and status. As well as sending out renewal reminder letters and "sorry you are leaving" emails, you could potentially use this functionality to support membership approval workflows, by sending emails to members that are pending with details of the steps they need to take to become approved members.
For example, to send a renewal reminder email to members 5 days before their membership expires:
- Select Entity Type = Membership
- Select one or more Membership Types
- If the selected membership types allow auto-renewal, you may want to only send this reminder to memberships that do NOT renew automatically.
- Set 'When' to be 5 days before Membership End Date
- Check 'Send Email' and choose the Template (or create and save one)
You will probably want to include some customized information in the template, such as the type of membership the person has as well when their membership ends. Select the corresponding tokens for these data fields by clicking Insert Tokens and searching for Membership Type and Membership End Date.