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Which CRM/church management software should your church use?

What a Church CRM can do:

A CRM can help you track attendance, giving and volunteers. A good CRM will also offer kids check in options, online and text giving platforms and volunteer scheduling. It should help you communicate well with your church and leaders more effectively.

What a Church CRM can’t do

The lie we want to believe is that a CRM will help us scale. That’s asking a lot. When your church begins to grow you’ll still need more leaders, volunteers and staff. The CRM can help one person accomplish more and save tons of time. However, as your church grows past 100, 150 and 200 etc. you’ll need more volunteers and leaders who know how to utilize the CRM. A CRM can’t help you break structural, physical and spiritual growth barriers.

Your Church CRM Options

There are plenty of platforms out there. New church platforms are popping up every year. Capterra rates and reviews these platforms. They have 159 Church Management Software tools you can read up on. Their search tool allows you to filter by features, options, cost and reviews here

Popular church CRMs and management software platforms 

The market is dominated by a few CRMS:

Servant Keeper

Planning Center

Church Windows

Church Community Builder

tithe.ly

Aplos

FellowshipOne

CRMs are great for maximizing guest follow up

We use our CRMs to make sure every guests gets connected to our church. When a guest attends our church we make clear (once in welcome video and once in offering prep) that every time a guest fills out a connect card we donate 10 meals to our local food bank. We use SimpleChurch, mailchimp and some great volunteers to do our guest follow up. Find out our guest follow up process here.

The CRM platforms I use

We use SimpleChurch crm for attendance, member data, giving data and kids check-in at Restore. It’s a cost-effective CRM with online giving, text giving, check-in features and more. The interface is a bit tricky, but not the hardest to navigate compared to others. It typically takes our admin team a few weeks to train someone to be proficient in the platform.

We use Planning Center for our serve team scheduling, small group attendance and worship service planning. I hear great things about using planning center for everything, but it’s quite expensive when you begin adding features and add-ons. The kids checkin and giving options through simple church were much more affordable for us. 

We also utilize Mailchimp for weekly church emails and automated email campaigns. Mailchimp is great for making your emails pop with design features. It also allows you to segment groups, schedule emails and see who opens which emails. Their automated emails are great for creating a pipeline of emails to be sent to new members, guests or segments of your church with info, links or just messages. 

Simplechurch also has an option to mass text a group of people, or even the entire church. We use that carefully as to not over-communicate. Their mass email features work well. Every good CRM should have this. We are very careful with this feature. You may want to have someone in charge of this feature as it could easily be abused and result in members feeling over saturated with mass texts and emails.

The CRM platform for you

Your church is unique. This should determine which platform works best for you. Some platforms excel in kids check-in. A church with a thriving kids ministry would do well to keep that a high priority. Planning Center is the gold standard for worship teams. Accordingly a church with a strong worship team (or desire to organize the worship team) would do well to consider planning center. 

Why you need a CRM

One of the pushbacks I hear often is, “It’s so expensive!” Honestly, we do pay a few hundred dollars per month to use all these systems. Let me defend this 3 ways:

1. I feel like that’s a small price to pay to make it easy for my volunteer leaders to have great tools to work with. Their time is precious to me.

2. I prefer order to chaos and these systems help us stay somewhat organized. People love attending, serving and giving in a church that isn’t constantly putting out fires.

3. My time isn’t free. I’m quite sure I could personally email, text and communicate with everyone if I had to. I could figure out how to make excel sheets of every list of people too. However, it would eat up tons of time. My time is best used in other areas of ministry. The same is true for my leaders. I want to free up as much time as possible, so we can use that time to minister and disciple well.

Article Written By: Marc Neppl marc@fwbmedia.org

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