How to Select the Best Church Management Software for Your Church or Ministry
Fulfillment of the business goals ensure growth in the business, and the same rule applies to churches. Churches cannot fulfill their objective of spreading the gospel of Christ to the community without proper Church Management Tools. Just like other business premises church offices can be stressful as well, due to their many deadlines that the administrative staff ought to meet and the small number of staff. The introduction of church management software is the right solutions to churches and ministries. The software enables the churches to fulfill their mission by keeping track and communicating with church members and provide a compelling database which can be accessed through the dashboard either on a web or mobile devices.
What are Church Management Software?
Church Management Software, also referred as CMS or ChMS is an all-rounded tool that enables churches to manage their activities efficiently and effectively. It enables the church to track and take into account members information (phone numbers, addresses, names), spiritual gifts, contributions, interests, attendance, security, volunteerism, funds, events and small groups which help in building the community. Some of the features it can provide include Membership & Attendance (including visitors), Contributions, Fund Accounting, Payroll, Facilities Manager, Event Registration and Check In/Check Out. Each of these modules can be implemented as standalone or be combined to create an integrated software suite that’s custom designed to meet the information management needs and budget of your church.
What are the types of Church Management Software?
There are different types of Church Management Software, depending on the installation type and these are Cloud based and On Premises .
- SaaS Church Management software
Software as a service Church Management software is a cloud-hosted solution. This implies that the software can be accessed anytime and from anywhere on a real-time basis. Maintenance, updates, and upgrades are all handled by the vendor of the software. The beauty with this software is that there are no upfront costs; thus the vendor or service provider charge annual or monthly subscription to access all the benefits and the user might decide to discontinue the services if not pleased.
- On-Premise Church Management software
On-premise Church Management software are those that are made available to the right users as it is installed on the authorized user computer. This kind of software doesn’t require any subscription and need one-time payment. This type of software is considered expensive, but the beauty about it is that you have full control of your data security.
Most Church management software’s are stand-alone software’s. They can work to produce the desired output without having to tap into another environment. Cloud-based church management software functions just like any other management software and what differentiates it from the others are that the database is stored and can be accessed or pulled out from the cloud. Cloud-based software can be accessed from anywhere on a real-time basis, and the data is more secured compared to server-based church management software.
What are the features of Church Management Software?
Churches and ministries exist in a unique accounting niche and many Church Management Software packages can help in this area. More than a data management program, many of the Church Management Software are a dynamic information system. The easy-to-use interfaces allow the user to change and manipulate data fields to match the ministry of the church to its mission. An integrated accounting system that has a good audit trail, keeps tracks the detail of every transaction and whose data cannot be altered in any way helps in compliance.
- Membership & Attendance
This is a unique feature as it lets you know the number of attendants in church. This feature does more than capture the member’s visitation record and also Captures individual and family records, Visitors in attendance and their records and Track of group meetings, activities, and committees. It keep records of memberships and allows the addition of new members, develop an user-defined report and integrate letters, notices, cards, and emails according to membership numbers. The feature ensures easy integration with other church programs as well as provides security to members information as the dashboard can only be accessed by a password generated.
- Event Registration
There are several events organized by churches all around the year, and for a church to manage these events well they need help from the church management software. The event features have multiple capabilities including defining the place, name, dates, cost, and deadlines of the events being organized, capture the registration of individuals on the event and automatic update the total number of registered members and track the activities that are associated with the event. It helps to track all the payments made for the event, fees, registration and other cost related to the events, create and print detailed registrants report, mailing labels, and badges with their names and create and print confirmation letters of the attendee of the events.
Contributions and pledges are some of the funds that are collected in churches and ministries. If not adequately managed might lead to loss of funds, and cause stress to the church management on accountability matters. The contribution feature helps in to track the contributions, special offerings, gifts given by the members. Help in the management of contribution, and ability to access them through the name of a giver, their number or account number. Create a report of weekly contributions and giving statements for a specified period and ensure accurate division of offerings from other multiple funds. It creates an estimate for contributions and pledges, develop a history of the giving’s and create an analysis of the giving in a variety of forms.
- Facilities Management
Churches have multiple of facilities that can be booked for various function’s, be it weddings, funerals, and meeting. Church management software should be able to eradicate conflicts that might be associated with the facilities. This feature helps in scheduling of rooms for events, select and view all the available rooms, adding of new event venues and view conflicts related to over-scheduling, view of the scheduled facilities on monthly or timeline view and assign and define room setups type. It keep detailed information about all the resources for inventory purposes and create a report and account of all facilities used and those unused.
- Fund Accounting & Payroll
Funds management is the most crucial and miss-managed commodity in most churches, but with the introduction of church management software, there has been some large improvement in that. Fund accounting and payroll feature have helped in: Easy access to the general ledger, easy and straightforward bank reconciliation capability by a provision of interest and bank charges, provide complete reports on audit trails and create a balance sheet. It provide an accurate comparison between expenditures and income, show all accounts payable and account receivables and show all the purchase orders. It enable smooth transfer of the payroll records to the general ledger, calculation of all state and federal tax collections and deductions, track all the employees’ leaves, sick days and offs and print the payrolls and other account related reports.
- Check-In /Check Out
Being able to manage who checks in and out in the church is important as it’s an assurance of accountability as well as security. Here are some of the benefits of check in or check out feature: It creates a record of all authorized to check in/out, and allows entry and specify the relation of the individual who is being checked in/out. You can authorize who can check the people checking in/out. It capture the details of all individuals who have checked in this might include taking their picture. The print badge which includes the information of the person checking in and issue a receipt to whom has checked in the person and lock the display of check-in/out.
What are the benefits of Church Management Software?
There are several important elements you ought to consider, to be able to run the church or ministry properly. There are a couple of complex entities that are usually inherited in church establishment thus it crucial to aim in achieving full efficiency on church management system to meet your goals here are some of the benefits of the software.
- User-friendly Dashboard
Having a dashboard that is user-friendly is an important benefit not just to the church administration but also to the church stakeholders. The dashboard provides the users with all the unifying experience that are paramount to the church functionalities and information all in one single place. These saves times for the users who wouldn’t have to bounce from different platforms to access information.
- Accurate statistics
Having access to all reports and statistics can be a valuable option for a church. You will be amazed by the number of influence statistics can impact your community. Traditionally, getting access to statics and reports about your congregation would be a hard task, but with church management software this information can be accessed with just a click of a button. These statistics enable you to eliminate the guesswork from community management.
- Check-in Management Features
This feature is very beneficial to any church management suite. It ensures accountability to guardant or parents who have entrusted the church with their children who might be attending an event in the church or events organized by the church. This feature can also keep track of the congregation in the church and enable easy organization of function in the church.
- Church-centered Functionalities
The primary objective of this church management software is to enable the user to access all the suite of tools that can accommodate all the diverse functionalities of the church. Having the software available smoothen all the centered church functionalities by making, the entire task easy to manage so and providing accurate results.
- Contribution Management
As accurate as possible the contributions made in your church ought to be tracked to enable growth. Church management software can enable you to keep track of all the collection and donations as they come in. This feature enables easy management of the fund and accountability.
- Events Management
For an event to succeed, it ought to be managed or put together properly. Most events are tough to coordinate, but with church management tool this process is smoothened. Keep track of rooms and accurate attendance record will contribute largely to the management of an event. This record also ensures that there is accurate communication between the attendance and the church management.
- Congregation Management
The congregation needs to be managed effectively not just during check-in/out outcomes. Church management tools should be community-oriented, by this allowing lot of special utilities for your members. The system should have a member tracking capability that enables the church to determine which member has frequently missed function and raise awareness to the pastoral department.
How to Select the Best Church Management Software for Your Church or Ministry
For church management software to reach its goals, you have to take into account certain considerations on how to select the right tool. Here are some of the consideration you should keep in mind while selecting church management software:
- Define your Requirements
This is the first stage of selecting church management software; the users have to identify what is the main purpose of purchasing the software and what will be the benefit to the church. The church should outline what needs to be achieved by the software by defining its management strategy.
- Come up with use-cases
On this phase you should examine the church culture and develop strategies on who will use the software and how will they use it. Determine how the church management software will track the member and the kind of information that you want to be tracked. Detail what the weaknesses of the previous system are and how the new system will surpass that.
- Determine the basic features
Different church management software’s have tailored functionality that might suit your church functionality, but the objective in this stage is trying to identify the right features of your software. There are thousands of features being offered but it crucial to focus on at least 20 features that your church needs.
- Create a shortlist and demo your options
Once you have identified your need and features the next objective would selecting a few of the software’s that match your needs. In this phase, you might need to engage stakeholders and other executives so that you might demonstrate the options provided by the software on the shortlist. This might include the demonstration of pros, and cons of the church management software.
- Compare pricing
Before purchasing anything, it is important to compare pricing. This also applies to church management software you are supposed to outline all the cost that will come with the software from maintenance, management, and purchase and compare which is viable taking into considerations that it needs to meet the church needs
- Purchase and Implement the software
It the last phase of choosing church management software, it includes decision making and taking into account all the stages above. If the software meets the need of your church, has all the needed features and at a considerable price then you can purchase and implement.
Here are the trending and the top rated Church Management Software for you to consider in your selection process:
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