I got asked recently about what churches should be looking for as they consider moving away from Excel and towards a more robust church database. This got me thinking about how lots of churches are still using Excel or other spreadsheet programs to keep track of things. These programs are good enough for what some churches need to do, provided they have someone who knows how to use them, but as you grow and start to do more, a specialized database can be a boon to your church. Also called Church Management Software, a church database is a great way to easily keep track of the things you’d like to track, attendance, offerings, etc. But it can also be a great way to keep in touch with your church members and adherents.
What Is A Church Database For?
If you’re new to this whole church database or church management software (ChMS) thing, here’s a brief list of some of the things you can do.
- Keep track of people and their involvement
- Track visitors
- Send email notices/newsletters
- Manage donations
- Be reminded of follow-ups for pastoral care
- Attendance tracking
Lots of organizations use similar software to keep track of people. Businesses for current and interested customers and non-profits for members and interested donors are a couple of examples. There is specialized software for different industries, like churches, but as a church it’s worth checking out some of the non-profit ones as well, it may by that you’ll find something there that fits better with what you’re after. You may also not be interested in all the features of some products, so make sure to check out a few before you jump right into one.
Church Database / Church Management Software Options
I’m personally a fan of being able to mix and match services I use, rather then an all in one solution. For many though all in one solutions are their preference and there are lots out there to choose from. Just remember to make sure you get something that can do everything you’d like, or that integrates well with the other services you’d like to use. For example if you use MailChimp or Constant Contact for email distribution, make sure the church database program you use integrates with them.
Church database, or church management software, can be found in all kinds of price ranges, which is another reason to make sure you check out a few before you commit. Depending on which one you choose though, the cost will likely be made up pretty quickly in the reduction of time spent fighting with spreadsheets or other programs that aren’t designed to easily do what you’d like.
While not for all congregations, to me it’s worth looking at different donor or church management systems. You’ll be way better off for keeping track of people and their involvement with the church. What better way to keep your staff and volunteers happy?
What features would you most be after in a church database program? Or if you already use one, what features do you like best?