Using Church Management Software to Get the Reports You Need
In the church management software industry, there are many products available that can easily store relevant information for your church. Many products display this information in a user-friendly interface, allowing you to record exactly the information you’d like, in just the way you’d like to keep it. All that’s lacking is the pretty bow to tie it up.
However, it is the end result that is important to you and your church. Few people out there—whether it’s a church employee, volunteer, or member—really care what it looks like on the computer screen. What is important is that the information can be retrieved and actually put to use to further the ministry of the church.
Helpful reports that are easy to create and distribute, whether on paper or electronically, are even more important than the slick user interface and flexibility of data entry.
In short, there’s nothing helpful about getting the information in to your program if you can’t get it out. The “pretty bow” on the filing cabinet is the helpful reports that can assist you in doing the work of the church.
How many times you have heard someone say, “I know we have that information in the computer, but I can’t get it out” or “I don’t know what report to run to get what I need” or “I’ll just figure it out manually” or “We’ve been taking worship attendance for years, but nobody ever does anything with it!”
Let’s look at some scenarios where reporting can make a difference in the lives of your congregation:
Use your program to easily send out a weekly e-mail to all members and friends with the calendar for the week attached. There’s no need to have one set of e-mail addresses in your program and another in Outlook!
The Caring Committee chair accesses the computer to check up on the elderly members. She asks for everyone who is shut in, has either contributed in the last year or attended in the last year, and has not received a visit in that time period.
A couple of members are experiencing some family problems and no one has seen them in a while. The program can alert you to anyone who attended at least five times in the prior three months but has not been in church for the last month.
Some churches put birthdates and anniversary dates in the newsletter or celebrate baptism and membership anniversaries by sending out cards or e-mails.
In the middle of your stewardship campaign, you need to know who has pledged for this year but hasn’t yet turned in a pledge card for next year.
Create a step report showing giving patterns at your church – how many give between $1 to $5 per week, $5 to $10 per week, etc.
It is so helpful to see trends in both income and expenses from year to year or month to month. Using your software, you can assist in setting up next year’s budget by using real comparison figures, not estimates.
How often have some of us participated in finance or council meetings attended by people with “glazed over” looks because they can’t understand the reports? It is easy to understand reports designed especially for churches. A good example of how a church must keep different funds separate for reporting purposes is a Fund Activity Report. This report lists, separated by fund, each fund’s beginning balance, income, disbursements, transfers, and the ending balance for the period. This report is easy for everyone to understand.
You can have a combination of employees who want direct deposit of their paychecks and those who want a paper check.
The 941 Report and 1099s can be easily created with a couple of clicks.
Create your W-2s and W-3s and print directly from the program or even file them electronically.
Transfer all of your payroll transactions, both direct deposit and manual, to Accounting with a single click.
Wrapping It Up
After reading some of these scenarios and talking with everyone, it is then time to ask these two questions:
* Is it time to invest in a good program to assist us in our ministry?
There are many software companies out there that provide good options of programs for all sizes of churches and all different reporting capabilities. Search, study, ask questions, look at previews, attend free introductory webinars, and take a test drive to discover which is best for you. Don’t let your data just sit there gathering dust in the “drawer” of the file cabinet. Put it to work for you!
Maureen Wygant is director of customer training for Church Windows church management software. More than 11, 000 churches around the world use Church Windows for their office management tasks and reporting capabilities, www.churchwindows.com.
How do you track and process work requests and facility management tasks at your church? Do you use a legal pad? Excel spreadsheet? Post-it notes? Cross your fingers, then hope and pray?
Let’s explore the options for tracking work orders, service history, equipment inventory, capital improvements, vendor log, and much more. We will investigate the needs of most churches to track service requests and work orders, as well as being proactive on tracking capital improvements to assist in your annual budgeting process.
To keep this all in perspective, let’s not forget that our ministry facilities are large complex commercial structures with lots of very expensive moving parts that need to be maintained, serviced, and repaired. These facilities have been entrusted to us, so let’s do our part to steward them.
1. Be Intentional
2. Central Database
3. Hit By a Truck
4. Long-Term Capital Improvement Planning
5. Prioritize Work
6. Manage Vendors
7. Historical Data
8. Asset Database
9. Warranty Tracking
Now that we have addressed why facility management software is a good idea, let’s explore the features you should be looking for:
The above lists will help get you off on the right foot. Do your shopping and due diligence. It is worth your time, and it will save you money over the long run.
Tim Cool is president and chief solutions officer of Cool Solutions Group, www.coolsolutionsgroup.com.