At St Columba’s a congregational email is sent out every Wednesday afternoon. This update usually contains a wide variery of announcements and the rotas for the upcoming Sunday. The sending of the email is done through a Mailchimp list, but the content is curated and organised using Trello.

Inspired by this, we have implemented a similar system for our weekly email. We use a Trello board to pull in all the information and notices and a python script converts everything to a nicely formatted body of text, ready to paste into Mailchimp.

Trello Board

Final result

Final Result

Weekly process

  • Notices are created as cards on the board. Either manually by any one with access to the board, or we have a Google form setup to email submissions to the board, allowing anyone to submit a notice. These usually land in the “incoming” list.
  • We then have a number of other lists where we can store standing notices to fill out any quiet weeks.
  • On a Wednesday we move all the notices we want to show into the “Wednesday Email Content” list. The order in the list dictates their appearance in the email.
  • Update any relevant meta data in the “meta” list.
  • Once everything is ready, we visit the webpage that pulls all of this together (image below), proof read the content and then paste it into Mailchimp, ready to send to the congregation.

Tool

How it works

The code that does the heavy lifting is written in Python and served through a Django app. In short, each notice is represented by a card - the name of the card is the title and the description is the body of the notice.

To create the email we:

  • Connect to the Trello API and grab the board that matches next Wednesday’s date
  • Pull out the meta data to construct the start and end text of the email
  • Loop over the notice cards, converting any markdown to html (to match how they are rendered in Trello) and adding an entry to the table of contents
  • Insert the text into the email template for display and copy and paste into Mailchimp

An example card, note the formatting is carried through to the final email: Example Card

Summary

We have been running this system (or a variation using a commad line tool) for several months now at St Columba’s. We reckon it saves us a bunch of time, makes it easy for us to collaborate and ensures our weekly email has a consistent layout. Having a defined process for this kind of thing should also make it easy for new folk to get involved or for new staff/apprentices to take over in the future.

Interested?

If you want help setting up something similar for yourself, get in touch (@monty5811).