Ann Arbor, Mich. — August 2, 2011 — ParishSOFT LLC announced today that the Catholic Diocese of Jackson has selected ParishSOFT’s Web-based ConnectNow Church Accounting and parish management software as the standard technology for all its parishes and missions. Implementation of the Diocesan Suite, Financial Consolidation Manager, and Diocesan Development Manager programs will connect the diocese and parishes to common, real-time systems that will streamline information management, aid development efforts, and help staff collaborate in new ways.
Bishop Joseph N. Latino personally notified all pastors and lay ecclesial ministers that the committee of parish and Chancery Office staff had selected ParishSOFT after reviewing three leading systems, adding, “We are convinced that this is a huge step toward more uniformity and better communication between the parishes and the Chancery Office.”
The committee’s decision marks a new beginning in information management for the diocese and follows a careful evaluation and due diligence process that spanned nearly three years and included several vendor presentations and a 10-question user-satisfaction survey. According to Aad de Lange, who serves as director of administration and finance for the Diocese of Jackson, ParishSOFT users reported unanimously that if they had to choose a new system for their dioceses, knowing what they know today, they would choose ParishSOFT again.
De Lange said, “The parish users on our committee tried different systems and unanimously picked ParishSOFT as the best product. Their endorsement, along with the full support of Bishop Latino and Vicar General Msgr. Elvin Sunds, gives us a unified starting point from which we can move forward together, with ParishSOFT as the standard technology platform.”
Renée Carpenter, office manager at St. Paul Parish in Flowood, served on the evaluation committee, and her parish was the first to convert their parish membershsip database of about 750 families to the ParishSOFT platform (from PowerChurch) in late July. “ParishSOFT is going to save us a lot of time,” said Carpenter, “Our old system required envelope numbers to post contributions, and the religious education tools weren’t connected to the main membership records. With ParishSOFT, entering contributions is a lot faster now because I can look up a family by envelope or by name. In the Religious Education program, I can find all the children in the existing family membership records. And we love the fact that we can roll a whole year of our religious ed program over into the next school year.” Carpenter is embracing the change to software that is Catholic and easy to use, as well as the opportunity to clean up the parish census data and get reports that show an accurate picture of the active and inactive families at St. Paul—information that will help the parish in its mission to live as the body of Christ.
As the Diocese of Jackson begins implementing ParishSOFT, it will eliminate its current time-consuming process of taking reports from the multiple accounting and software programs currently in use at the parishes and manually re-keying those records into a database at the diocese. And de Lange looks forward to having more accurate, real-time census and financials to fuel annual diocesan reporting and overall decision-making.
“Today we just don’t have the numbers to form a clear picture of how much we spend on common expenses across all parishes,” said de Lange. “Standardizing on ConnectNow Church Accounting will give us the ability to see our costs for everything from office supplies to IT. We may find we can leverage diocesan-level buying power with our most commonly used suppliers to help us all save money.”
Transitioning to a common technology will have broad implications for the annual diocesan Catholic Services Appeal, which as of August 1, 2011, has $950,000 in pledges. Rebecca Harris, director of the Catholic Foundation and the office of stewardship for the Diocese of Jackson, looks forward to having current addresses for every family in the diocese, an improvement over the current process in which appeal letters are sent only to those families whose parishes voluntarily provided a list of addresses. “For the first time in the history of our CSA, we’ll be able to give every Catholic family in the diocese the opportunity to contribute,” said Harris.
Having more accurate address information and a complete parishioner database is projected to result in an increase in overall CSA giving—as much as 10% or more, based on actual results seen in other dioceses using ParishSOFT. Such an increase would be a blessing to the host of services funded by CSA, including seminarian education, the Office of Social Ministry, and Catholic Charities.
The benefits of a common system for membership reporting, stewardship, and accounting go well beyond just the financials. According to de Lange, the diocese will gain the opportunity to standardize training and procedures, as well as insight into how each parish is doing—information that is vital to serving the 48,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Jackson today and in the future. Priests and staff who move to other parishes in the diocese will find the same programs and reports available wherever they go, easing a transition that would otherwise involve a learning curve to adjust to new tools and procedures.
Rebecca Harris sees a bright future for the entire Diocese of Jackson. “We’re all here to make our diocese better and stronger,” said Harris. “ParishSOFT will provide us the means to help each other and communicate better across the board. It used to be that if parish staff had a question, they didn’t have anybody to call. Now, they’ll be able to call each other, the diocese, or ParishSOFT support when they have questions.”
Replacement of the multiple membership and accounting systems currently in use among Diocese of Jackson parishes will begin immediately. Through a proven ParishSOFT-organized approach of collaborative project planning, chart of accounts and standards design, user orientations and training, it is expected that all parishes will be live on the ConnectNow Church Accounting system by September. The membership system rollout will follow, with monthly data conversions and training sessions.
Mike Cusick, ParishSOFT Vice President of Marketing and Sales, said, “The Diocese of Jackson serves the majority of the state of Mississippi, including many parishes that have 200 or fewer families. With ParishSOFT, the diocese and all parishes, large and small, will have the tools they need to communicate with each other and their parishioners, run their ministries, and achieve the financial health needed to do God’s work in every corner of the diocese.”
About the Diocese of Jackson
The Diocese of Jackson was originally established in 1837 as the Diocese of Natchez and included the entire state of Mississippi. Today’s Diocese of Jackson covers a territory of approximately 38,000 square miles in 65 Mississippi counties and serves 48,000 Catholics in 98 parishes and missions. Ordained in 1963 and appointed the Catholic Diocese of Jackson’s tenth bishop in 2003 by Pope John Paul II, Bishop Joseph N. Latino’s motto Ut Unum Sint (That All May Be One) reflects his belief in our oneness in Christ. Bishop Latino’s motto is also apropos to the diocese’s initiative to achieve unity in the systems and data they need to support ministry and communication.
For more information about the Diocese of Jackson’s, please visit www.jacksondiocese.org.
Founded in 1998, ParishSOFT offers a complete suite of church and diocesan management software to connect people and the church and to reduce administrative work. The company’s Web-based ConnectNow Church Accounting system, launched in early 2009, is the next generation of the CMS Fund Accounting software, first introduced in the mid 1980s by ParishSOFT’s sister company Church Management Solutions. The ConnectNow Church Accounting suite includes the modules Ledger and Payables and Payroll, with an Accounts Receivable module coming in late 2011. From its earliest beginnings, the ParishSOFT and CMS accounting products have been designed to meet the unique accounting and stewardship needs of churches and schools, while offering the same ease of use and affordability found in secular programs, like QuickBooks®.
ParishSOFT continually invests in improving its software and web solutions, as well as adding new features and products. ParishSOFT presently serves more than 5,200 parishes, and the company’s products have been implemented in 52 arch/diocesan offices. Visit www.parishsoft.com for more information about ParishSOFT’s products, services, and its annual Users’ Conference for parish and diocesan staff.