Choosing Church Software:
Donor Management Systems And You
Donarius® is not the only church
software program that tracks and manages donations and information about your donors
themselves. With so many options available, selecting what makes the most sense for
your church or nonprofit organization can be a significant challenge. Furthermore,
unlike some management decisions, the choice of which donor and donation management
systems you use is likely to be one you and your organization will live with for
some time, if not decades. Research your options before buying. We’ve outlined
some of the most important steps in selecting the appropriate software below. For
further information, also check out our article on this subject published in
Religious Product News Magazine.
Now you and the other people involved, can make a decision.
- First, as with all important decisions, we urge you to pray. Remember, James 1:5 tells
us that God grants His wisdom to anyone who asks. Don’t leave Him out of a choice that
will have far reaching and important ramifications for you and your church for years
- Consult with your colleagues and those whose opinion matters to you. Ask them
the following questions, and compare their answers to your own. Who will use this church
management software? Who has the expertise to help make this decision? Who has the
authority to make the final decision? Who will be helped with this software?
- As you consider what software will be most effective for your church (or nonprofit
organization), try making a list, in order of priority, of what you need this product
to do for you. For example, is tracking pledges your primary concern? Or perhaps you need a
program to establish and maintain membership lists for your organization. After you generate
this list, compare the utility of various software programs. One may fit your needs better than
another, and be more appropriate than another.
For these comparative purposes as you shop around, here’s what Donarius Church/Donor Management
Software is designed to help you accomplish:
Keep in mind that while Donarius is able to facilitate all these tasks above simply and easily,
this is not a payroll, accounting, budgeting or attendance tracking program.
- be easy to use
- track membership
- record interests, gifts and abilites of each member
- record and keep track of important dates, including membership anniversaries and
birthdays so you can stay in touch and send out cards to recognize the occasion
- maintain records for consistent follow up for visits from non-members
- track donations
- print a bank deposit
- print or email quarterly statements
- print or email tax receipts for donors to use for tax purposes
- customization of tax receipts for donors as per their individual needs
- record and track pledges
- track "gifts in kind" (non-monetary donations, e.g. goods and services)
- track donations made through pre-authorized payments (A.C.H.)
- re-assign envelope numbers at the end or start of a year
- print offering envelopes instead of ordering pre-printed ones
- print labels for all (or selected) members
or prints directly on envelopes
- communicate with donors via personalized letters, emails and even text messages
- create and print color photo directories
- create and print a variety of donation reports
- maintain security with password protection
- import and export data
- be accessible from different locations, just like web-based software
but without any monthly fee
- Determine what you and your organization can reasonably afford for a program. Consider both
the initial purchase and any yearly support fees that some companies charge.
As a cost effective software program, Donarius is designed to save you money and time as a
donor management program that organizes your record keeping system quickly and easily.
(We also don't have any yearly support fees.)
- Consider whether you want one product which does everything or several
products for different tasks. For example, you might want one product to keep track
of members and donations, an accounting package for your expenses and budgetting, and a third
program for payroll. You should take into account that the all-in-one software usually costs
more and may not do each task as well as a specialized one.
- Find out what software is available. Here are some ways to do that:
- Do a search on the Internet, trying several search engines and
search for: "donation software", "donation tracking", "church software",
"church management software", "donor software", etc.
- Look at some other websites that have links to
church management software, such as Capterra or the
Open Directory Project.
- Call other churches and ministries similar to yours to see what software
they use. Ask them what the service was like and if they had any problems.
- There are about 70 companies in the USA and Canada that sell
church management software. Some of the most popular ones are listed in
Ministry Tech Magazine's CMS Chart.
It is impractical to look at all of them so
you should narrow the choices to 5 or 6 products that seem to fit your
needs and price range.
- The way a product works may not always be what you expect, so you
should find out as much as you can before you buy it.
First look for videos showing the software in action. Contact each company and do an
online demo of the product. This will save you time by having someone show you an
overview of the software. Then download a free trial version and try it yourself.
- The service the company provides is essential. Will they be there when
you need help? The easiest way to do this is ask them a few questions.
You should ask at least two questions by email and another two by phone.
Your purpose is to test both the speed of getting an answer and the quality
of the answer. You should get an email response within one business day.
When you phone the company, they should be able to answer your question the same day.
If you get a good answer quickly, you can be pretty sure they will be there when you need
You could also ask for references.
- If the software seems to do everything you want or may want in the future and
the price is right, then it is probably the product for you. However, if it is missing
something you need, ask the company if they would do some changes for you. If you think
your needs may change later, you should ask the company this question:
"Suppose that in six months, I need the software to do something else - what would you
do for me then?"
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