If you have a document that contains a list of volunteers (such as a volunteer roster), you don’t need to manually enter each of your volunteers’ names into MSP! Instead, you can use the Import Volunteers feature to automatically import this information as well as your volunteers’ phone numbers, mailing addresses and/or email addresses. Using the Import Volunteers feature is a straightforward process and has the potential to save you a substantial amount of time. (Note that if you are using a church management program supported by MSP, one-click import and synchronization of this information is possible.)

A video tutorial for this topic is also available.

1. Compile information about your volunteers into a “clean text” (.txt) or “comma separated value” (.csv) format

You will want a separate .txt or .csv file for each ministry you will be scheduling.

Exporting Information from Your Church Management Software to .csv Format

Almost all church management software is capable of exporting information and reports to comma separated value (.csv) format. (MS Excel spreadsheets may also be saved in the .csv format.) Once you have your information in .csv files, you can easily import those files into MSP. Consult your church management software’s manual for instructions on how to export information to a .csv file, and then generate a separate .csv file for each ministry you wish to schedule. Each file should contain all the information for all the volunteers in that ministry, with the information for each volunteer being on a single line. You may include in your .csv files any of the information (columns) in the following list.

• Full Name – either first name first or last name first (e.g. both “Roy Cogner” or “Cogner, Roy” will work)
• First Name by itself
• Last Name by itself
• Phone number
• Full Address
• Address (Street only)
• Address (City, State, Zip only)
• Address (City OR State OR Zip)
• Email address
• Comments
• Filler Column (not imported)

Once you have finished exporting your .csv files, continue with the instructions found after the next section under “Importing your .txt or .csv files into Ministry Scheduler Pro”.

Creating a Clean Text (.txt) File from an Existing Volunteer Roster

In addition to extracting information from .csv files, you may also extract information from existing volunteer rosters on your computer with the Import Volunteers feature, but first you need to put those rosters (one for every ministry you wish to schedule) into a “clean text” format. For instance, suppose your volunteer rosters are Microsoft Word documents similar to the one pictured below in which tabs are used to line up the columns correctly.

Mary Star of the Sea Church
Altar Server Roster

Please contact Bruce Disney (510-591-2055) if your address or phone number has changed.

Roy Conger 1333 Paris Way, Oakland, CA 94550 510-606-6768
Max Crittenden 190 E. O’Keefe St. #3, Oakland, CA 94025 510-321-8042
Glen Davis 7940 Earl St. Oakland, CA 94605 510-632-8452
John Davis 7940 Earl St. Oakland, CA 94605 510-632-8452
John Drewery 1525 Arch St. Oakland, CA 94708 510-549-369

In order for MSP to be able to read and understand this file, it needs to be free of all extraneous information. Open your roster with Microsoft Word and then delete all of the lines of the roster that contain anything except information about a volunteer. (You may want to make a copy of your roster before modifying it to make sure you don’t accidentally save over your original roster.) The above roster with all extraneous information removed would look like this:

Roy Conger 1333 Paris Way, Oakland, CA 94550 510-606-6768
Max Crittenden 190 E. O’Keefe St. #3, Oakland, CA 94025 510-321-8042
Glen Davis 7940 Earl St. Oakland, CA 94605 510-632-8452
John Davis 7940 Earl St. Oakland, CA 94605 510-632-8452
John Drewery 1525 Arch St. Oakland, CA 94708 510-549-3692

If your roster is in an MS Word “Table” format instead of simply separated by tabs, then you need to convert the table to a tab separated list. An easy way to convert your table is by first selecting the entire table by clicking and dragging the mouse over it and then clicking on the Table menu and choosing “Table to Text…” from the Convert submenu. In the dialog that appears, click the Tabs button and then click OK. Your MS Word Table will be converted into a tab separated list like the one pictured above.

If your roster is separated by spaces instead of tabs, then just insert a tab in between the spaces separating each column. There is no need to remove the extra spaces as MSP will automatically ignore them when you import the roster.

Of course, your roster does not necessarily need to contain these exact columns in this order. It may contain any or all of the columns listed on the previous page in any order.

For instance, a roster of the following form would also be acceptable:

Roy Conger rconger@relatedsys.net 510-606-6768
Max Crittenden maxcrit355@hotmail.com 510-321-8042
Glen Davis davis_glen@dantz.com 510-632-8452

(Columns: First Name, Last Name, Email Address, Phone)

Once you have eliminated the extraneous lines and your roster is in a clean text, tab-separated format similar to the ones pictured above, select “Save As…” from the MS Word File menu. In the Save As dialog that appears, there will be a popup menu at the bottom entitled “Save as type.” Choose “Plain Text (.txt)” or “Text Only (.txt)” from this menu, select a location to save your file (any location will do) and then click the Save button. If a “File Conversion” dialog appears (recent versions of MS Word only), just click OK. That’s it! You just created a clean text file suitable for importation. Note that you will need to locate this file later so remember where you saved.

2. Importing Your .txt or .csv Files into Ministry Scheduler Pro

Once you have created your .txt or .csv files, go back into MSP and choose “Import Volunteers…” from the File menu of MSP’s main screen. A dialog will appear where you can specify which columns are in your .txt or .csv files and the order in which they appear. Select the appropriate columns from the “Available fields” list and click the “Add >>” button to move each of them to the “Fields to import” list. Make sure they end up in the correct order in the “Fields to import” list (that is, the order in which they appear in your .txt or .csv files). You can drag the columns around in the “Fields to import” list to change their order.

You should also specify the ministry or ministries to which the imported volunteers belong by clicking on those ministries in the “Ministry qualifications” field. Each imported volunteer’s ministry qualifications will automatically be set to the ones you specify here. A volunteer is only scheduled for those ministries (or ministry subdivisions) in which he is qualified to serve. (By holding down the Control key and clicking on a ministry, you can qualify the imported volunteers as “substitutes” in that ministry. If a volunteer is a substitute in a given ministry then he or she will never be scheduled in that ministry by the automated scheduler. The volunteer will only be scheduled in the ministry when you manually assign the volunteer to fill a position. Substitutes may also be listed separately in rosters.)

If you are scheduling several ministries, you should import a separate .txt or .csv file for each ministry, each time changing the ministry qualifications setting to correspond to the roster you are currently importing. If the same volunteer belongs to multiple ministries and is therefore in two of your rosters, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Each time you import the same volunteer, MSP will automatically add his new qualifications specified for the new import to the existing ones.

When you are ready, click the “Import…” button, locate the clean text roster you created containing your volunteers’ information, click Open, and a volunteer will be created for each line in your roster and the appropriate information will be filled in for each volunteer automatically.