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All you need to know about Web-based church management software – to pick the right one

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Published: Aug 7, 2020

The global COVID crisis has accelerated the necessity for a web-based church management software. 

Thanks to the pandemic, church attendance has significantly changed. Online sermons and masses recorded an 8% increase in attendance than in-person attendance before COVID.

This number denotes a drastic shift in your congregation’s preference for online gatherings over physical presence

For your church, that means going digital and ensuring that you keep up your church’s fundraising and communication activities as you had before the pandemic. 

Church management software can help you here. It will simplify everyday church tasks and digitize the process to make it more trackable and efficient. 

What is a web-based church management software?

Church management software, or a ChMS, is a web-based tool that allows churches to manage, automate, and regulate their everyday church activities. A church management software can assist you with:

  1. Fundraising (event management and donor relations)
  2. Accounting (tracking donations and spends)
  3. Administrative tasks (attendance tracking, collecting contact details)
  4. Church communication (engaging the congregation, sending updates)
  5. Growing church membership (encouraging new members to sign up)

A church management software need not necessarily address every single aspect of church management listed above. 

It can handle merely one (or more than one), based on the church’s unique requirements. The other needs can be handled by a host of separate digital tools.

For instance, a relatively new church would be focused on gaining new members and getting their congregation more engaged. So they could opt for a church management software that specializes in communication and fundraising. Other admin related tasks can be handled via an excel sheet. 

Here is a closer look at the various categories of church management software and how it can benefit your church. This will help you in making an informed choice about picking the right software that your congregation needs. 

What are the types of church management software?

The various categories (or types) of church management software are based on the major aspect of church management the software helps with. 

S.No.Church management software categoryHow does it help your church?
1.Church donation/fundraising software
E.g. Tithe.ly
* Provides text to give or online giving options
* Helps track donor giving behavior
* In some cases can also help with donor communication and event management
2.Church accounting/admin software
E.g. PowerChurchPlus
* Helps keep track of church expenses
* Some software help track of funds raised as well
* Tracks church attendance, keeps records 
3Church communication software
E.g. CallHub
* Enables communication across various platforms like texts, phone calls, and emails
* Can offer a CRM platform to host membership details and behavior
* Also can provide custom-built apps to engage the congregation
4Church attendance/membership management software
E.g. Planning Center
* Helps mark every day (and Sunday) church attendance
* Assists in membership management by taking sign-ups
* Can coordinate small groups and plan events

Notice that there is a lot of overlap between some categories of the tools. E.g church fundraising software helps with donor communication, which should ideally be the purview of a church communication software. 

The objective of the classification is to enable churches to find a tool that can be an end to end solution to a problem they need most help with. 

That means, since donor communication is an essential part of fundraising, a church fundraising software also enables churches to talk to their donors.

For churches who need help in multiple categories, opting for a complete church management software that covers the entire width of features (and then some, like website hosting and management), can be the best bet. 

Church donation or fundraising software

An ideal church donation (or fundraising software) helps your church in 3 ways: 

That could mean helping with donor (or member) communication, helping with volunteer recruitment, and even managing events. 

How can you use it to make maximum impact?

The capabilities and features of each tool differs greatly. Regardless of the tool you pick, here is how you can implement it so that it can benefit your church.

Collect tithes via texts during service

Send out a bulk SMS to your congregation during service to improve donation. You can add an online donation link to the text that the members can follow to complete payment. 

This could be more efficient than physically collecting tithes, and can also help you track the funds better.

Follow up with old donors (who haven’t donated yet)

Building relationships is the basis of all fundraising efforts. You can make the process more streamlined by systematically checking in on members (rather than calling them haphazardly). 

For instance, regular donors who haven’t made a contribution yet could be tagged separately on your church management software. You could reach out to them on priority via texts/calls, before moving on to others in the congregation.

You can also reach out to them via peer to peer texts to have one on one conversations via text and thus encourage them to convert.

Church accounting/admin tracking software

For most churches, finance management is a huge part of admin tasks. So tracking funds raised, and where the money went (and how it was spent) is a crucial part of a church admin software. 

It is also inextricably linked with budget planning, and planning of fundraising events. Based on the software you pick, you will have a comprehensive toolkit that can:

  • Forecast expenses
  • Fix fundraising goals
  • Plan events to meet the said goals.

CRM and membership management software also have some of these features in-built that can help you track all data in one place.

How can you use it to make the maximum impact?

Instead of pushing the accounting/administrative tool to the background, you can combine it with a communication tool (like CallHub) and use it to spearhead your fundraising efforts.

Volunteer management during events

Most tools allow you to assign volunteers for planned events. You can simplify volunteer management further, by enabling volunteers to sign up via texts, and then assigning them their roles.

You can also simplify volunteer communication by sending out updates (and thank you messages) via bulk texts.

Improving donor relations 

Send out a thank you email to all donors who support your church. If your database can show you which donor donated for which cause, then you can make the message more relevant by giving updates on the specific cause they patronized.

Church communication software

The primary objective of your church communication software is to keep your congregation engaged and bring them closer. Tools like CallHub, enable you to reach your audience via phone calls and texts and simplify communication.

The tool you pick should:

  • Sync with other church management tools
  • Help you send engaging content (like MMS)
  • Allow you to personalize (and target) the messages you send

Get a better understanding of church communication software.

How can you use it to make maximum impact?

In case your communication software does not track member data, you can sync it church attendance software to send out targeted communication. Even if such segmentation is not possible, here is how regular communication can help your church.

Engage your members with regular updates

You can send out daily bulk SMS to your entire congregation with a thought/scripture for the day. Specific prayer requests can also be sent to engage your members even if they do not attend church regularly.

follow up

Keep your congregation updated about your ministry

Using texts (or even phone calls), you can give details on the activities your church has planned, how it is helping charities, etc. You can also use peer to peer texting to have a personal one to one conversations with members via text and encourage them to participate in surveys/feedback to help improve your church.

feedback and suggestions

Church attendance/membership management software

The primary objective of a church membership management software is to help your church grow and recruit more members and measure engagement. That could mean branching out to digital registration on channels like

Knowing how your donors interact with your church can help you identify donation patterns and opportunities that can boost fundraising.

How can you use it to make the maximum impact?

The membership or attendance management software, in effect, acts as an online database of your members. It shows their contact information and their engagement behavior. Here is how you can get more from it.

Target highly engaged members for fundraising efforts

Tracking church attendance will give you a good idea of how involved each member is with the congregation. Based on this information you can send out donation requests to more involved members, and encourage them to contribute more to the church.

Identify nonparticipants who need cultivation

If a member is repeatedly missing church sermons (or events), you can reach out to them via texts or calls to check how they are doing. This could help you improve relationships with that member and keep them attending regularly.

Notice that in all the above use cases we have discussed, a common underlying thread is communication. 

A good church management software allows you to do more than just automate the mundane aspects of church management. It gives you valuable insights into your member’s behavior that you can harness for:

  • Targeted messaging
  • Simplified outreach
  • Enabling easier member management (e.g. sign up with text)

Ultimately, it is these aspects that actually build a healthy church and help you grow. So keep that in mind before deciding on a church management software for your ministry.

Take-away

Switching to a church management software is not easy. The learning curve could be steep and you would definitely face push-back from management before making the change. One way to offset that is to start small – pick a scalable software that can grow with your needs. 

Or, pick a tool that can solve your most urgent problem and then add complementary tools to streamline your management. 

For instance, a tool like CallHub can help you communicate via texts and calls. It can help you boost fundraising, bring your congregation closer, and improve membership recruitment. It can even connect to your existing CRM tools or excel sheets.

Once your church has adjusted to that, you can add more tools to your digital arsenal (like a CRM, or event management software) that syncs with CallHub and make it a complete church management system. 

Featured image credits: Pixabay

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