What is church management software?
Church management software is a tool that aids churches and similar groups in managing, automating and organizing daily operations. It handles processes such as databases, communication, community and event and worship presentation programs, among many others.
As the name implies, church management software or ChMS is a type of computer software specially designed to help churches and religious groups manage, automate and organize their daily operations. Beyond that short definition, this type of software leverages computing technology to handle tasks and activities of churches such as managing membership databases, emails and communication, worship presentation programs, community and religious events, fundraising, finances, and report generation, among others.
Running a church is unlike operating a corporation. Their natures are vastly different – the former is non-profit and while the latter is profit-driven. Although both are people organizations with hierarchical setups and divisional components, businesses and corporations have the advantage of earning for their keep. Churches and faith-based organizations have to rely on the donations and contributions of their members, making it doubly important to efficiently handle finances, resources and activities as well as to effectively manage and expand their memberships. As the number of members grow so does management and administrative work. ChMS came about to address these unique needs.
In this article we’ll tackle the question of what is church management software and provide you with information and insights into its many aspects so that you’ll be better guided when you decide to acquire one. Beyond the definition of church management software, we’ll go over the following:
- ChMS Facts and Figures
- How ChMS Works
- Benefits and Advantages
- Features and Functions
- Why You Should Use ChMS
- Cost and Pricing Models
- Example of ChMs
- Latest Trends
Technology & The Church: Facts and Figures
Church and technology seems an unlikely pair. The fact is that churches and religious organizations have been slow in adopting new technology. But that is now changing, and churches are fast catching up. Technology in its many forms – the Internet, social media, devices and applications – are now being harnessed because of the great benefits they provide.
Credits: Tyndale Church & Technology Infographic
A survey conducted by Tyndale University College & Seminary on over 360 churches revealed the following:
- 99% use sound equipment in their church.
- 74% of church members read the Bible through smartphones and tablets.
- 54% of church leaders do not discourage the use of technology at their church.
On the use of social media, a ROAR.pro survey came up with these results:
- 98.97% of churches use Facebook which they consider the most effective platform.
- 77.32% of churches use Twitter.
- 46.1% of churches say that social media is their most effective method of outreach.
Meanwhile, according to leadnet.org, a leadership collaborative of pastors and churches, 78% of churches are using a cloud-based church management system.
What Does Church Management Software Do?
An exploration on what is church management software starts with the things that it can do. Its basic functionality is similar to most productivity applications – to streamline and automate tasks and processes, this time focusing on activities endemic to a church organization. What does church management software do can be summed up into four general categories:
- Streamline common administrative tasks. This covers daily operations like service support, reporting, work coordination, emails, information dissemination, and many others. ChMS ensures the smooth running of the church on a day-to-day basis by automating recurring tasks and reducing the cost of operations.
- Track and manage resources. A key feature of ChMS is accounting functionality and reporting to improve financial management; accurately keep tab of contributions and donations; enable the judicious utilization of resources; and come up with proper financial statements and reports.
- Foster communication. The church is an organization of ministry leaders, administrators, staff, members and visitors, and a ChMS provides technology tools for better communication as well as informing every one of church news, updates and developments. It also makes for efficient and effective spreading of the Gospel.
- Monitor growth of the congregation. This includes service attendance; managing contacts and membership; and prospecting for new members through various channels like emails and social media. ChMS also maintains a database of each member with details and information that can automatically be updated.
How Does Church Management Software Work?
Church management software can be an on-premise system or an online cloud-based platform and can work for a church of 20 members or a church with membership running into the thousands. The larger the church, the more pressing the need to organize and manage every thing, and a good ChMS fills in that need. On certain levels, no two churches are exactly the same and what works for may not work for another. Good thing is that ChMS can be scaled and customized to fit the requirements of churches regardless of the number of their members.
How does church management software work boils down to its features and benefits detailed in the succeeding sections below. With the increasing popularity of ChMS nowadays, it has proven to be an indispensable tool to manage and grow a church organization. It is therefore paramount that those looking for a ChMS determine their exact requirements and find features and packages that will be a good match. It will also help to go over the following criteria to understand what is church management software and determine if it will work for them:
- Can ordinary staff and users easily navigate and operate its features?
- Can it efficiently handle tasks and processes to save on time and resources?
- Can it generate accurate and reliable financial reports?
- Can it provide useful insights and analysis on financial and daily operations?
- Can it properly manage and organize a secure database?
- Can it produce and distribute follow up messages and letters to members and visitors?
- Can it work with your current computer system or would you need to upgrade?
- Can it enhance collaboration and coordination with different units and people in the church?
- Can it facilitate outreach activities and help grow the organization?
What Are the Benefits of Church Management Software?
Church management software brings with it a number of productivity and optimization functions that can greatly assist any church or growing faith based community. Remember that as your church grows, so does the load of tasks and processes that has to be properly managed to keep the church operating smoothly. What are the benefits of church management software? Read on to find out.
- Church-centric platform. You get features specially designed to address the unique functional needs of a church. A business software simply will not do because of the distinct nature of church goals, activities and operation. One study pointed out that 70% to 80% of newly formed faith based communities fail after the first year, and that even established churches lose some of their members after five to seven years. A major reason for this is the lack of tools or resources to manage the many diverse administration and growth aspects of churches. ChMS fills in this shortage.
- Management dashboard. A full-featured management dashboard provides you a unified way to have all important church information in a single location. No more looking for data and records from various applications, storage and systems. You have the convenience of a centralized database that can be readily accessible especially if it is a cloud based platform.
- Statistics and reporting. Eliminate guesswork in managing church operations and have reports and statistics right at your fingertips. You can view financial reports and get membership insights and determine where growth factors or where bottlenecks lie so you can work on improving them. These provide you relevant insights and guide you in making informed decisions.
- Events management. Big church and community events can be difficult to plan, schedule and put together which is why ChMS software feature tools to facilitate booking, monitoring of assets, and tracking of contributions. There are also communication features to easily inform and update members of any changes in schedule, activities and programs.
- Check-in management. This nifty functionality is an immense benefit when it comes to large gatherings and events where every member including children must be accounted for. A check-in system ensures that events are well organized, and that participants are physically present and well documented, reducing instances of missing or lost members.
- Contribution management. Donations, contributions and collections go a long way in maintaining and growing a church, hence it is essential that everything that goes into the church coffers are accurately tracked and monitored. Fortunately, most ChMS carry features to make it easy to keep tabs of donations and generate updated reports of collections.
There are many more benefits of church management software than those enumerated above but suffice to say that the bulk of administrative work can be handled by these types of software that are built for automation, precision and efficiency.
What Are the Advantages of Church Management Software? Smoothly running a church largely depends on getting things organized and keeping numerous workloads manageable. Here are some of the advantages that can be gained by implementing church management software:
- Centralized database. Having all contact information, member details, records of collection, financial reports and other important files and documents in one secured and easily accessible location is the first order of business of organizing things. So much time and resources are saved by having one information repository.
- Reduced exposure to fraud. Accountability especially when it comes to church finances is strengthened. Fraud and embezzlement of funds can happen and you wouldn’t want that in your church. Accounting and reporting features in ChMS can be set with mandatory double entry procedures and traceable audit trail. You can also enforce internal controls such as multi-level passwords or authentication protocols and have a log to monitor users and changes made.
- Efficient financial reporting. In relation to the above, you get efficient and accurate financial reporting which you can readily produce for any donors wanting to have copies of financial statements.
- Enhanced communication and information. With integrated communication tools in ChMS you can readily connect and communicate with staff and members and improve your ability to reach out to visitors as well as keep your congregation in the loop regarding church events and developments.
- Personalized emails. You can have customized emails sent out to members or personalized messages sent to specific groups. Rather than come out with a generic collective emails, sending out emails with personal touch have more profound impact.
What Are the Features of Church Management Software?
Although some church management suites may have more functionalities than others, there are features that are common to all such as:
- Membership management. Keeps updated information on members, volunteers and visitors such as contact numbers, addresses and activity involvement.
- Contributions/donor management. Provide secure collection and management of individual and major donations as well as pledges and upcoming donations.
- Financial accounting. Enables managing, tracking and reporting of finances like revenues and expenditures.
- Communication tools. Facilitates community-wide communication and outreach activities to increase member participation.
- Events management. Organizes and manages event activity and planning, payment process support, event listing search, tracking and reporting, and prevents double booking.
- Volunteer management. Helps organize volunteer contact information, availability, scheduling and history, among others.
- Check-in and child security management. Tracks member and visitor attendance at events such as seminars, camps and retreats. Many ChMS provide child check-in functionality to keep track of children in specific church locations and events.
How Much Does Church Management Software Cost?
Church management software with more robust features like online community portal, comprehensive support, and integrated check-in/security features generally cost higher. There are however more affordable offerings for small churches with basic feature such as member records management, reporting and email communication. ChMS pricing structure generally have three models:
- Monthly or annual subscription based on weekly attendance numbers.
- Monthly or annual subscription based on number of member records in the database.
- Perpetual license fee per one-time user or per computer although some allow multi-users one a single license or an additional license fee for each user.
What are Examples of Church Management Software?
- ACS Technologies. A leading provider of ChMS solutions to to manage members, groups, volunteers, staff, schedules, events, finances, donations, reporting, mailings, reporting and many others. Deployment options include online, offline, remote or desktop to ensure you are always connected to your church or community and able to run it efficiently no matter how small or large it is or how complex its activities and operations.
- ServantKeeper. A highly rated platform that can be deployed locally or on cloud with powerful applications to help in managing your ministry. It has features to manage members and volunteers, donors and contributions, events and attendance, check-ins and security, reporting and research, and communications. You can also customize and use web, mobile, and desktop apps to engage more volunteers, reduce daily admin work, and grow your community.
- ParishSOFT. A church management software for Catholic churches and dioceses looking to streamline church office functions. Its integrated tools and applications share a common database for easy managing of information and allowing office staff to access the most up-to-date records whether from a parish office PC or a laptop in a remote location. The platform is designed to unify your entire church administration, increase productivity, and bring your church and people together.
- PowerChurch Software. An all-in-one solution for today’s growing churches that helps manage, monitor and track of membership, contributions, accounting, events, schedules, communication and many more. Since is introduction in 1984, it has been serving churches and nonprofits by providing affordable and easy solutions that help streamline day-to-day activities and handle diverse administrative tasks.
- Church Community Builder. A cloud hosted ChMS platform designed to create effective, organized systems and processes that can be accessed and used from anywhere. It includes features to manage check-ins, contributions and online giving, volunteers and guests, and many others. It has metrics dashboards and mobile apps, and the vendor provides software implementation support.
What are the latest ChMS trends?
There has been increasing demand for ChMS lately as technology catches up with the church to address organizational, operational and administrative challenges. The following trends are seen to continue influencing how churches and faith-based communities are run.
- Cloud adoption. This has made possible affordable church management platforms that are light on resource requirements, fast on computing, and powerful on features. ChMS provides cloud accounting capabilities that include automatic financial information and reporting, financial monitoring, and budget review. It provides effective and efficient means to handle financial management which is one of the biggest challenges for churches.
- Online giving. According to an Intacct survey, churches that are using the cloud for online giving are nearly twice as likely to see an increase in donations. In fact, the 6.1 percent increase in faith-based groups has been attributed to the increase in the use of online giving, the Blackbaud Index on Charitable Giving Trends has revealed. This trend is likely to continue as churches have found a reliable means to provide members with ways to make mobile and online contributions.
- Social media. Churches are turning to social media not only to spread The Good News, but also to communicate, share information, boost support, and engage with members, volunteers and visitors. Social media increases a community’s online presence and can be linked with outreach channels, such as email and events, to foster increased communication among members.
Technology and Your Church
Why use church management software? The immense benefits and advantages that we itemized in the preceding sections should be enough reasons to clear any hesitations or misgivings about ChMS. Current challenges and issues in running a church or faith-based community require modern solutions that leverage existing technology. Now more than ever, churches are realizing the positive impact of technology when applied to managing crucial resources and finances, increasing memberships and contributions, and addressing distinct operational requirements. The partnership of technology and church not only affords you the means to effectively run your community, it also gives you the platform to take care of your flock, reach out to more people, and spread the Gospel in ways never before possible.