5 Incredibly Useful Tools For Your Church
You don't have to go to a lot of expense to get the right tools for the job.
Whether you are a long established church with a regular congregation or much newer and still growing, you will benefit from effective systems to manage your team, look after finances and help keep in touch with members. This doesn’t necessarily mean investing in an expensive IT infrastructure; there are many great off the shelf tools suitable for churches that simply get the job done. Here is our pick of the five essentials that every church should consider using.
If you want to create impactful imagery that works across your website, social media and print output but don’t have the design skills or graphics budget to make it happen, Canva is a great tool popular with both beginners and professionals. Controls are intuitive with a simple drag and drop interface and you won’t have to spend hours searching for the right font, template or icon. Canva comes with everything you need ‘out of the box’ to help produce a really striking logo, poster or flyer. If you are already working with a professional designer, then ask them to provide elements that work within Canva, that way you’ll be able to adjust existing images or produce future work that stays true to your brand.
Not so long ago, churches would have to set up complex, costly systems to allow people to donate through their website. That has changed recently thanks to the tools provided by Totalgiving, a zero commission donation platform set up exclusively to help registered charities. Sign up on their website and you’ll quickly be able to create fundraising campaigns with secure online card processing. Other available features include gift aid processing, sharing options and a really useful donations manager, the perfect tool for keeping track of all your fundraising activities. If you already have your own donation pages but just require a payment processor then try Nowdonate (also part of Totalgiving) which offers completely free card processing.
Gone are the days when creating a church newsletter required typesetting skills and the patience to stand over an overheating photocopier. You may already know of Mailchimp, the popular email marketing tool; it’s a fantastic piece of software that manages your contact lists, is GDPR compliant and produces clear, well-designed newsletters. A well-established platform (since 2001), Mailchimp now integrates with many other design tools and can be easily embedded in your website to allow people to subscribe to a newsletter. The best thing for an average sized organisation is that you can use it free of charge for up to 2000 subscribers. If you’re thinking bigger, other paid platforms such as Churchsuite (see below) can do the job well. But for a free and easy off the shelf option Mailchimp is hard to beat.
For real peace of mind, consider Churchsuite, a management tool created specifically (as the name suggests) for churches. Useful features include an address book, rotas, a calendar with event booking options, attendance reports and multiple communication options. We’ve helped various clients set up Churchsuite and successfully integrate it into existing websites and databases. It’s a robust system that uses an API (an interface between client and server) that allows you to pull out data such as contact information which can then be used within Mailchimp. There’s no mucking around with tricky code or messy formatting here; event data can be sent directly to your website where it is automatically updated.
At the current time with public gatherings not permitted, many churches have had to go online. Facebook live is a very popular tool for streaming live events and can be done straight from your home via your mobile phone just by tapping the live video button. If you want to make it a bit more slick then using the OBS project software in conjunction with Facebook live will give you more flexibility. For more information on using these see our blog “step by step guide to live streaming for churches and organisations”.