Announcing The Community Jar: A WordPress Plugin To Help Churches Serve

communityJar

I am really excited to announce that the Community Jar is now available in The WordPress plugin’s directory.

What is the Community Jar?

We’ve all been to the gas station and come up 2 cents short of being able to pay to the exact penny. Standing at the counter you look down and see this little plastic cup of change that says, “Give a penny, take a penny.” Arn’t you grateful you can grab 2 pennies so that you don’t end up getting $.98 in change back! It’s just a small way we can be neighbors to each other.

That is the foundation behind the Community Jar, but instead of pennies we are all about serving and meeting needs!

Have a Need, Help A Need: Sometimes we have time or talents to give and other times we need a bit of help but don’t know who to ask, the Community Jar is there to bridge that communication gap.

Arn’t there other services that do this already?

There are other services out there but none that meant our needs in a simple straight forward way. We wanted a system that would allow anyone to create projects or volunteer without the need to sign up for another website or service. So we did it! There is no login, no password, and anyone with a email address or phone number can us it, it’s that simple.

Public but Private

In a quest to make things simple you sometimes have to sacrifice privacy and security. I have worked hard to make sure this isn’t the case.

  • All projects and volunteers are moderated by site admins
  • Communication happens via email, making it easy for anyone to use
  • Information like email and phone numbers are only shared with the people who need to know it.
  • Project owners can remain anonymous, only the volunteers will know who they are helping.
  • You can edit your project at anytime using a private link that is only shared with the project owner.

Customize it to your needs

Just like WordPress you can customize the Community Jar to fit your needs and you can even change the name if you want to! Plus we have a really easy to use email template system that allows you to change what information is sent out in every email.

See it in Action

This was originally built for my home church Watermark, and we have been using it since June, so far we have had:

  • 13 projects submitted
  • 10 project completed
  • 24 people sign up to help

That might not seem like much but we are a church of 400ish heading into the summer months(where everyone leaves) so I think its pretty amazing!

You can see how we implemented it into our site here.

Download

You can find the plugin but searching for Community Jar in the plugin directory or visit the plugin page.

Coming soon

Soon I will launch the Community Jar site with documentation, tutorials at ChurchPlug.in. This new site will not only hold the Community Jar, but my next plugin and blog about WordPress Plugins, Themes and development for the church!

34 Responses

08.21.13

Fantastic! This is exactly what our church was looking for. Is there any documentation/tips/getting started that you can point me to? Anything to give me a head start would be great.

Thanks

08.21.13

The website with documentation is still int he works, but the plugin is very straight forward and most of the work is done during install. After install go to /project-submission for project submissions and /project for a full listing on projects.

08.21.13

Thanks again (especially for the quick reply). /project-submissions work correctly, but the /project url redirects to project-submissions

08.21.13

My bad its: projects/

08.21.13

That did it! Thanks!

08.21.13

Brad, does the system email the owner when a volunteer has signed up?

08.21.13

Yes it does, it also emails the volunteer to let them know that they have been approved to help with that project.

08.21.13

Very intrigued to use your plugin for our school community site. Is there documentation somewhere? Also the deadline appears to be granular to the day. Will you be adding hours/minutes and date ranges?

08.21.13

Hey Brad, John again. I'm close to bringing up Community Jar for our church but I have a few questions about the project owner's capabilities. I had hoped that the project owner would be able to edit the project members (get emails send reminder emails etc..) but I don't see a way for them to access that data from their dashboard. Is there something I need to do to give a project owner permissions to do that?

08.21.13

Hey Brad, strangely, I'm finding that the system emails the admin when a volunteer signs up, and that the owner of a project does not have permissions to 'approve' a volunteer.

08.21.13

Hey Brad, I've noticed that new projects submitted by first time project owners create a new user, but no new user registration email goes out to the new 'project owner' user.

08.21.13

John, the system is set up this way so that all volunteers go thru a moderation process by organizational admins or church admins. That way if there is something fishy about a sign up the admins can contact the volunteer before they approve to make sure everything is on the up and up.

This keeps the system simple and streamlined for both volunteers and project owners.

08.21.13

John,

This system does not work like a normal user registration system. One major goal of this plugin was to allow anyone to host or volunteer for a project without having to login into yet another website. So when a project is submitted, the project and the project creator are added to the database(the project is set as pending). Then the community jar admins get an email asking them to approve this project. If everything they see looks good they approve.

for example, our church does not allow any project that have to do with childcare, so if we would see a project like that we would remove the project and let the project owner know why.

Once a project has been approved an email goes out to the project creator giving them a "secret" link to their project update page. This is a front end project editor that requires no password and allows you to update any information and see a list of all of your project volunteers in one place.

I am all about following wordpress standards and i know this goes around that standard user system, but since we wanted to make a seamless "no need to login" system we had to change how that worked. And like I said before it allows for moderation of volunteers and project owners before anything is posted.

08.21.13

John,

No worries, ask away!

As I stated below, once a project owner is approved they will get an email with a "secret" Project Edit Link. This allows them to edit project details and see allow project volunteers in one central place. The project owner also receives and email every time a volunteer is approved to help with their project.

Currently, project owners can not update or remove volunteers.

08.21.13

Excellent, so a follow up question, I'm our church admin, but I was wondering if it's possible to give our volunteer coordinator capabilities to approve projects and volunteers without giving them complete administrative access to our wordpress site.

— update —

(I just noticed your answers above.. thanks)
— as you can see, I'm interested in deploying this on our site, but not for me to administer it. We have one volunteer coordinator and it would be ideal if they could play the role of 'approver of projects' and 'approver of volunteers'. Seems like this is not possible with the current system, so I'll see if I can go about hacking on the site permissions to make that happen.

08.21.13

In the current version I don't have permission set up, but I will add that "settings" option to the list for a future update.

08.21.13

Hi Brad, first of all this is a very efficient plugin! thank you for sharing it with the world.
Just wanted to ask. Does this plugin have a shortcode so I can add the submission form on a page or post?

08.21.13

Right now it does not, but in the new year I hope to add that functionality.

08.21.13

Thank you for your response. Will be on the watch for your updates. :)

08.21.13

Dear Brad,
Thank you for this plugin. I installed it on my site. But I can't find the projects/ page to add to the menu for full listings. Please advise.

08.21.13

You will need to add a custom menu item that links to yoursite.com/projects/

08.21.13

I will check this out! I build websites and design print graphics for churches purely donation based. I would love to add stuff like this to the sites!

08.21.13

A wonderful find. I will be talking with my fellow church staff members and see if they will allow me to bring this plugin to the surface of our site. Just one off the wall question for my own concern since I am the church member that deals with spam issues and such. Any thoughts about the use of Captacha? I ended up having to implement this option when using a prayer request form sometime back as a result of spam link issues.

08.21.13

I haven't had any spam via the community since out launch in June. Had spam in other areas on the site but not there.

Since the forms require extra fields like phone number it makes it way more difficult to get spam.

08.21.13

The program does not work out of the box in a sidebar-content-sidebar configuration. Any suggestions on how to make it work?

08.21.13

Could you post a link to a site that uses that type layout? Also have you tried going to yoursite.com/projects or yoursite.com/project-submission/ do you see anything on either of these pages?

Lastly, please disable all other plugins to make sure other plugins are not conflicting with the Community Jar.

08.21.13

I did go to http://www.xeniacitizenjournal.com/projects & /project-submissions and results are as describe above. I have deactivated all plug-ins except community jar with no change.

08.21.13

Brad-I was able to tweak the project template and submission page template code that fixed the problem. Thanks for making your plugin available.

08.21.13

Glad you got it fixed!

08.21.13

I am trying to get Community Jar to work but am not having much luck. I am somewhat of a newcomer to WordPress, so I may be doing something basic wrong. I have installed the plugin and added a sample task, but when I go to mysite/projects I get a message "Apologies, but no projects were found." and when I go to mysite/project-submissions I get "Error 404 – Page Not Found". Do I need to create dummy pages for these URLs, as I have had to do with other plugins?

08.21.13

The plugin should have copied page templates to your theme directory but if your folder permissions don't allow this you will need to manually add these.

To find these templates go to plugins/community-jar/templates, there you should find 2 templates archive-cj_project.php and single-cj_project.php

You will also need to copy the project submission template from the views/templates folder. Then create a page called "Project Submission" and set the page template as the project submission one you just added.

This should have all been done when you installed, but every server is different so sometimes things don't go perfect.

08.21.13

Thanks. Because of the way my web host manages WordPress installations, I can't get access to the directories where files are stored and I don't think I can add templates to my theme through the WP admin interface. I'll try CJ on another web host and see if it might work there.

08.21.13

Hi-

I am trying to install and setup Community Jar on my crowdfunding site as an added feature for users. Unfortunately, the page layout for project submission and project is completely wrong. I am using a crowdfunding theme from codecanyon right now. I would appreciate some help with the page and function layouts if possible.

08.21.13

Hi Brad,
The plugin works well except that when someone tries to sign up or create a new project it redirects them to a blank .php page, how do I fix this?!

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