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A Guide to Texting VBS Volunteers and Parents

  • Written By: Breanna Riddell
  • Posted: May 26th 2022

What does texting have to do with Vacation Bible School? It turns out, a lot! With texting, you’ll likely see the best response rates when collecting registrations, recruiting volunteers, and sending parent announcements. There are many things to think through when communicating with parents and volunteers, and that’s a place where we can help. If you’re the children’s director, this post is for you, and if you’re not, then you know who to share this with. Let’s get started!

Church Announcements

When you’ve decided it’s time to start promoting VBS, whether it’s a digital slide on Sunday mornings or a QR code posted throughout your building, encourage people to sign-up for VBS notifications. Once they opt-in to your texting list, you can send regularly scheduled reminder texts.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Use your 5-digit number (known as a shortcode) for mass texting. Shortcodes, as opposed to 10-digit numbers, are the easiest number to interact with and they’re enabled for two-way conversations. For example, imagine the two numbers below are showing on your screen during service. Which is simpler?
    – New here? Text JOIN to 94000
    – New here? Text JOIN to (580) 309-5902
    More than likely, the first option is easier to remember. But if you like, you can also use a 10-digit number in your Clearstream account. Both options are available.
  • Keep your messaging timely, relevant, and concise. Sending a long text everyday might be too much. Instead, try sending one or two texts within a week, and consider shortening your texts as much as possible.
  • Consider creating a recurring message that will automatically send the same update, at the same time, each week. This saves you from having to remember to send out reminder texts. In other words, work smarter – not harder.

Volunteer Sign-Ups

As VBS starts getting closer, you’ll want to recruit volunteers to lead Bible classes, craft activities, and group games. Create a send menu for people interested in serving and tie that menu to a keyword. For example, people could text your VBS keyword and receive a list of volunteer opportunities to choose from (ie. reply with ‘1’ for Bible, ‘2’ for Crafts, etc.).

Try it out! Text VBSVOLUNTEER to the number 970-00 to see a VBS send menu in action.

Depending on which option they choose, each person will receive a specific text with more information on the area they’re interested in. From there, you can add steps that make the most sense for your church — route people to a list based on the number they replied with, send a message that includes a link to your background check, or automatically push volunteers to your church management software.

Registrations

Once you’re a few weeks away and registration has opened, create a keyword for VBS registration. Promote a QR code or a simple call-to-action prompt (Text VBSREGISTER to 97000) in multiple places: kid’s check-in, worship center, welcome area, etc.

What happens after people text in with your keyword is up to you, but here are a few ideas:

  • Send a link to your VBS registration page
  • Collect additional info through a digital connect card
  • Send a link to a Clearstream sign-up form

If you haven’t checked out the above link about Clearstream sign-up forms yet, then I’ll save you some time. With a sign-up form, parents could specify each list they want to receive communication from. For example, if a parent has a child in 2nd grade and in 4th grade, they could select both lists and be automatically routed to those lists inside of your Clearstream account. This requires a little more set up in your account, but once it’s time to start communicating with parents, you’ll already have an established list of those you need to send specific information to. And if you need help setting up a more in-depth workflow for VBS, you can schedule a call with our team here, or hit us up on live chat.

Daily Updates

It’s a good idea to designate someone on your team as the “VBS Communication Liaison” – feel free to steal that title by the way. What does this person do? Basically, they prioritize updating both parents and volunteers throughout each day, and are available to reply to any incoming responses.

If you have parents who have opted into VBS texts, then sending daily recaps of what each grade experienced can help parents feel in the know about what went on during VBS. Here’s an example – “Hey third grade parents! Today the children learned the story of David and Goliath, ate popcorn at snack time, and played soccer at recreation. Thanks for bringing them! Tomorrow we start at 8am.”

For your volunteers, there are a lot of moving parts and every leader needs to be on the same page. Texting small schedule changes or reminder messages like “Hey leaders! 5 minutes until the next rotation!” can make a huge difference in the structure and organization of VBS.

Follow-Up

Once VBS is over, you can finally relax… Yeah, right! Who are we kidding? It’s time to follow up! Luckily, the follow-up process doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need to do is send a mass text to volunteers and parents, thanking them for participating and notifying them of upcoming church events that they can get plugged into.

In closing

VBS is such a fun season, and we sincerely hope you find joy, even in the chaos — the good chaos. We also hope texting is a useful tool as you communicate with parents and volunteers. For more specific use cases or in-depth questions about your specific VBS set-up, feel free to reach out to our customer success team and we’d be happy to help! You can even schedule a Zoom call with us.

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