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5 ideas to make the Electoral Roll Refresh easier, quicker, and more valuable

Electoral Roll Refresh

Ask most electoral roll officers and church wardens about what they’re looking forward to at the moment and the answer’s probably not the Electoral Roll refresh. So, here are 5 ideas for making this an easier, quicker, and more valuable process for your volunteers and congregation.

Every six years, each parish in the Church of England has to create a new list of its members. Traditionally this has meant hours of work trying to make sense of illegible handwriting, stacks of forms, chasing people and missing forms, and then the inevitable double and triple-checking.

So, here are 5 ideas for making this an easier, quicker, and more valuable process for your volunteers and congregation.

“What does it mean for me?”

Imagine someone new to the church and your congregation. What does the phrase “Electoral Roll refresh” mean to them? What does the process mean for them?

Particularly amongst younger generations, the way they’re expected to interact with the church is very different to the other institutions in their lives. Is your Electoral Roll officer presenting the 2019 refresh as an old-fashioned admin exercise, or as a way the church can better serve its congregation and members?

Roll refresh 2019: What’s new?

All Church of England parishes can now gather Electoral Roll applications electronically. This may seem newfangled - what’s wrong with printing out and deciphering dozens or even hundreds of paper forms, right? Think ahead to the next electoral roll refresh in 2025, or even 2031 - do you imagine that churches will still be doing this on paper?

“What does this mean for my parish’s older members?” It doesn’t have to change anything for them, as you can collect applications for the renewal both by paper and digitally. For your younger members, however, the process will be easier and more akin to what they’re used to - and you’ve just saved several hours’ typing.

Do more with your Electoral Roll: 3 tips

The upcoming renewal can be more than just a counting exercise to discuss at your APCM. Why not use it as an opportunity to understand your congregation better and strengthen relationships?

1: Allow them to tell you what their interests are. Added to the form or on a separate form, this might be particular types of services or events, or an interest in learning more about home groups or faith courses. Not only can you make better plans for what you’ll offer, but you can communicate with them based on their own interests and encourage them towards further involvement in the life of the church.

2: Use a digital form to encourage intergenerational relationships within your congregation. No, I’m not kidding. Arm some of your younger members / youth group with smartphones, computers, or tablets and ask them to help your older congregants fill in the electronic form after your Sunday service at the back of the church.

3: Consider a young person’s roll. Until someone is 16 and baptised they can’t legally be on your electoral roll, but that doesn’t mean young people can’t be involved in their own way. Can you use this as an opportunity for your young people to tell you what they like about your Sunday school, for example? Or for the older children, how they might want to help with those activities?


Many people and churches have focused on the problems and issues that GDPR might raise with respect to a parish’s electoral roll. Though that’s important (see this article from Parish Resources), consider the refresh as an opportunity to update details, GDPR consents, and people’s communication preferences, so you can start to communicate with them in a more relevant way.

Save time and communicate better

At ChurchDesk, we’re helping churches save hours of work and mistakes by automating their Electoral Roll refresh, while also improving their data to communicate better with more people. Click here to read our guide and webinar to help you do the electoral roll application process directly into ChurchDesk.

Or click here to book a demonstration to see how managing this process digitally can help you and your congregation:

 Book a 15-minute demonstration

Topics: Product

Thomas Lowe
Thomas Lowe
I work with churches in the UK and US, seeking to understand how technology can support their ministry and mission objectives. Occasional blog writer, church organist, and proud owner of a very old headshot.