What is Church Management Software?
A Guide to ChMS for Catholic Parishes and Diocese
Parishes, no matter their size, operate with one of their main goals being to minister to their people and communities. As ministry continues and the parish grows, there needs to be a cohesive system in place to track new guests, parishioners, volunteers, events, and finances.
It can be a daunting and complicated task to manage, and that’s why most parishes have an administratively gifted person (or multiple people) to oversee these operations. With such a wide array of people, finances, and activities to monitor and process, church management software (ChMS) is a helpful tool to increase efficiency and reserve more time for ministry.
Church management software is technology designed for the Church, so parish administrators, clergy, and staff can be well equipped with the necessary resources to engage their community and expand as the organization grows.
In this article, we’ll answer questions about what church management software is, what the benefits are, and the various integrations that make up a fully integrated ChMS.
What is ChMS?
Church Management Software, or ChMS, is specialized technology specifically designed for parishes, dioceses, and other ministry-based institutions to assist in streamlining the organization and optimization of daily operations, with integrations to help with parishioner databases, volunteer management, scheduling, reporting, events, finances, and communications
It is a full-bodied software program that aims to support churches by encouraging collaboration and centralizing administrative tasks while tracking growth and building community.
History of Church Management Software
Originally, churches and parishes had to rely on complex organization systems that would be done by hand or typed and then compiled in some sort of structure. Parish administrators would have to decipher people’s handwriting as they turned in their registration form. Then they would input that parishioner’s information into a filing cabinet or enter it into a Word processor or Excel spreadsheet.
The problem was that it took entirely too much time and this process made it difficult to find what people needed and to collaborate. It was also challenging to send any communication to parishioners without using some sort of prayer telephone chain or taking hours to contact each person. Imagine doing that with the large parishes we have today? Even in smaller parishes, this task would take precious time away from doing ministry.
When ChMS first arrived on the scene, it was mainly a data processing system to simplify mailing lists and other basic functions. Today, church management software is a powerful, web-based tool to help churches track, manage, and organize visitors, members, volunteers, small groups, finances, and more, including mass communication. With integrated functionality, all the back-end administrative work can happen seamlessly, allow for collaboration across staff and departments, and produce Kingdom growth.
Worship Planning Resources:
Why your parish needs an integrated ChMS
With an integrated church management software, you'll have access to everything you need for your ministry to run smoothly. With ChMS, pastors, staff, and church administrators will be able to streamline the behind-the-scenes administrative work. Rather than having a different software or online platform for membership, online giving, communications, website and content management, security, and events, an integrated ChMS cohesively ties all the tasks into one system.
- Keep track of your people. Capture, monitor, and maintain members' data. No more losing phone numbers or not being able to keep their information up to date.
- Stay engaged. Communication is made simple with mass text and email messaging. Segment groups or update everyone all at one time.
- Track finances. Manage donations and contributions. Monitor growth or dips in giving. And, with an included online giving platform, your congregation can contribute from anywhere.
- Make training easy. Train new staff and volunteers and observe where they're at in the process. Upload files and completion certificates.
- Generate reports. Parish reporting analytics help your ministry to track specific data over time. Gain insightful trends about attendance, giving, and group activity.
- Keep people safe. With security functions, check-in processes, and background checks, provide safety for your people with an automated process that integrates seamlessly with your church database.
- Do more ministry. By combining a wide variety of tools into an easy-to-use system that is specifically designed for the church, it will free up the time your team would have spent doing paperwork, inputting information, and entering data. With a streamlined process through innovative technology, you can spend more time doing what matters most — ministry.
Learn more about how one church simplified church management with time-saving features and functionality of ChMS. Webinar
Benefits of Integrated Church Management Software
Obtain whole-church management at your fingertips with cloud-based church administrative software. Access visitors’ information to send them a quick follow up that welcomes them to your parish. Download and print reports from your computer at the office. Or enjoy the atmosphere of a local café while you schedule an event with volunteers and include a registration page directly from your laptop.
A church management system is designed especially for parishes. This is beneficial because you have a method that is specifically created to help ministries thrive. Parishes have unique needs that require a software program (and a team behind that program) that understands how parishes operate.
One of the main benefits is that ChMS is designed to assist parishes and dioceses with structuring and managing all aspects of daily operations. ChMS simplifies the complex, day-to-day tasks that ministries face.
Integrated church management software can increase the productivity of the organizational and operational aspects of a parish. The suite of tools within an integrated system will help with management across the board. Check out the features of these tools below.
Administer your entire parish.
The general administrative tasks of your parish can be streamlined with an effective ChMS. You’ll be able to better support your ministry with the automation provided through the software.
Member data management will be simplified with cloud-based access from anywhere. Parish staff can easily connect with their people because their information is not only easy to find but can be updated effortlessly. Your staff can access and manage all sacramental details within a single database.
From the same program, create events and schedule volunteers and use of facilities. Keep track of attendance and who is serving where.
Administrative teams can run reports to gain valuable insight into trends within the parish. To-do lists will shrink drastically (or at least the time it takes to check them off) with the support of an automated, administratively sufficient platform.
Grow your ministry with flexible online giving options.
Administrative burden will be reduced because everything related to generosity is simplified through an online giving platform that is integrated directly to the ChMS.
Provide convenient and flexible giving options — Website, Mobile App, Text Message, and Kiosk Giving — for members to contribute to your parish. Foster generosity from anywhere, at any time, with access at your congregation’s fingertips.
See church growth and manage all contributions, gifts, and donations in one system. View a range of custom reports by person, transaction, fund, and date range. Access graphical reports of monthly trends, automatic recurring giving, and forecasting.
With online giving, encourage generosity by allowing parishioners to set up one-time donations online or set up recurring gifts with ease. Donors will also have access to their giving history, like when and how much they donated.
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Build your community with enhanced engagement.
Increase effectiveness of parish communications and keep your congregation connected with various contact methods supported by ChMS. Send instant updates via email. Message the entire parish or segment into groups for specific content. Let everybody know about an upcoming parish-wide event or contact only specified people.
Create an environment of exceptional member care by staying in contact with your parishioners. Send a welcome email to new visitors and let them know how they can get connected. Reach out to volunteers in a ministry group, appreciating them for their time. Thank donors for their contributions and share how their generosity is making a difference.
Simplify the complex world of parish accounting.
Accounting for non-profits, especially parishes, is different than for regular, for-profit businesses. Parishes have different needs, different issues, and different tax considerations. And just because a local business succeeds with the financial software it uses, that doesn’t mean that it’s the best option for parishes with their unique needs.
Financial management is a critical tool in the ChMS suite. Some church management systems do not have the ability to do accounting, so be sure to find one that does because it will make it easier to handle financial particulars that come with the territory of parish finances.
Our integrated accounting and ChMS solutions can automatically create deposits for contributions posted in the Offering solution. This reduces data entry errors and reduced possibilities for financial mismanagement through the internal controls built into the accounting solution. With parish accounting software, you can access and update ledgers, payroll, receivables, and payables.
Align ministry goals with data and financial insight by effortlessly generating valuable reports. This can also take the stress out of providing financial statements to donors, clergy, etc. Your sensitive accounting data will also be secure.
Share your message and attract new members with a parish website that reflects your ministry.
In the digital age that we live in, your website is critical for people finding and connecting with your parish. With an integrated church website, build a virtual extension of your ministry's message. Because your website is the new front door, you’ll want a content management system (CMS) that is designed specifically for the Church.
Grow your parish’s reach through digital evangelism via your website. Attract new members and get your parish found on the web with SEO. Set a great first impression with visitors and connect with your members.
An effective CMS will be quick and simple to manage and update. Change copy, add graphics, and edit pages with a user-friendly front-end editor. Create a website as unique as your ministry, designed specifically for the church.
Reach beyond the walls of your church with live streaming.
As the world had to quickly go digital, including church services, live streaming became a necessity to stay connected with the congregation. Integrating live streaming with your church management software makes for a seamless opportunity to continue in community.
Easy-to-use, all-in-one live streaming that’s created for the church will help expand your reach. You can share your services, in real time, through social media and your website.
Help your members grow with live chat, Bible passages, and sermon notes. Even if your people can’t attend in person, they can continue to feel included through live church streaming.
Protect your parish and staff by implementing background checks.
Catholic parishes have a unique need for a full featured Safe Environment solution that goes beyond submitting background checks. Parishes and Dioceses need to capture, track, and report on the full life cycle of people’s involvement in their ministries. Whether they are clergy or lay ministers, volunteers or paid personnel, whether they are serving in worship services or religious education classes, parishes and dioceses need to know that all requirements have been met, trainings have been completed, screenings have been submitted and passed, and that all results and historical assignment activity is available for review and acceptance.
Parish security and protection is important to your guests, parishioners, and volunteers. Background checks for parish staff and volunteers enable parishes of every size to take a substantial step in the quest to protect their people.
With a powerful ChMS, the security and background check feature will help you manage tens, hundreds, or even thousands of volunteers. Reduce the risk to children, adults, property, and information by utilizing this pivotal tool. Between 4-10% of background checks file reveal a criminal record. Knowing ahead of time can help protect your parishioners.
Background checks are vital for recruitment, security approval, and assignments of volunteers. Parishes need to be mindful of the safety (and the concern for safety) of their congregation.
Having a secure system in place to recruit and track volunteers is crucial. The protection aspect of church management software should be able to accept volunteer applications, track where they’re at in the process, and allow you to see which ministries they’re serving in.
Engage your parishioners with a personalized mobile app.
People are mobile, and your ministry should be, too. With advances in mobile technology, people are more connected than ever. If your ministry isn't mobile-optimized, then you are missing out on one of the best ways to connect with your congregation.
Encourage parish engagement through your mobile app throughout the week. Inspire them to give, sign up for events, and request prayer, all from their fingertips.
Minister to people no matter where they are with a mobile-friendly app. People can watch Mass and live streaming on the go. They can get connected to a group during the week. They can also receive push notifications to get updates immediately.
Enhance your services with a digitally managed ministry scheduler.
Easily connect your volunteers and your parish staff with Ministry Scheduler, a powerful online scheduling and ministry management tool that helps ministries grow and flourish. You can manage your volunteers and schedules securely at any time, from anywhere with internet access.
With Ministry Scheduler, get alerted if there are scheduling conflicts and allow your volunteers to block out any dates ahead of time if they’re unable to serve.
Directly manage your services with this intuitive software planning tool.
Church Management Software to Move Your Ministry Forward
Increase efficiency for your teams with powerful accessories that put more time back their day, so your parish can focus even more on ministry. With whole-parish management at your fingertips, you can grow your impact, regardless of the size of your parish.