A Parish Leader’s Guide to Church Management Software

A growing parish is a two-sided coin. On one side, you can reach and guide more parishioners throughout their spiritual journey; on the other, you now have more moving pieces to manage, increasing the difficulty in managing offerings and finances, events and volunteers, data security, and more. The simple answer is a church management software, but with several available, finding the right solution is paramount for your parish. We’ve created an easy how-to guide to help you select the right parish technology so that you can engage your community and scale with them in a mobile and user-friendly way.

Why Church Management Software is Essential for Today’s Parishes

A comprehensive and seamless system combined with intelligent outreach features that empower parish staff to focus on their mission while streamlining routine processes are essential to the daily work of today’s parishes.

Through data and insights, church management software allows parish staff to identify opportunities for ministry and determine ways to effectively engage with parishioners. Finding the right channels for communication is so vital in cutting through the noise in our digital-first world. That means leveraging user-friendly digital and mobile opportunities to send messages, alerts, and updates regarding events or milestones that nurture their faith journey.

Pushpay’s LEAD App integrates with our church management software and provides parish leaders with a comprehensive view of individual parishioner profiles, sacraments, involvement, giving, and more. This innovation in church technology empowers your staff and ministry leaders alike to understand and better support your parishioners.

Managing a Growing Parish

As a parish community grows their in-person and online communities, day to day operations like facilities, volunteer, faith formation programs, or livestreaming quality may become challenging for staff to manage. And keeping everyone up to date on important information becomes a massive obstacle to overcome. You need a robust system that streamlines your daily parish operations effectively while also offering the tools to send out rich push notifications, alerts, reminders, emails, and more to individuals, groups, and the masses.

Without these tools from the right parish technology platform, you risk lapses in communication, volunteer management, parishioner engagement, and much more.

The Role of Technology in Parishes

Once upon a time, people communicated by word of mouth; then they moved onto the telephone. Today, cell phones are in almost every pocket and people can text, email, call, or find any other way to send a message to someone else. With a powerful church management software, you can get your message to the eyes of your parishioners in seconds.

With automated alerts, push notifications, scheduled emails, and the ability to send one-off messages whenever you need, you and your parishioners can stay in constant communication remaining up to date on any events, volunteer opportunities, campaigns, and more.

Beyond communication, technology empowers you to spread the Gospel to those who are unable to make it to Mass. With Pushpay’s Resi livestreaming platform, you can reach more people than ever before and invite others to join and worship with you every week. Ignoring technological advances today may lead to a less engaged community tomorrow.

Key Features to Look for in Church Management Software

With a few benefits of parish management software covered, let’s look at the three key features you need to ensure your parish runs effectively and efficiently to support your staff and parishioners every day of the week.

Parish Management

Simplifying routine processes with your parishioners and managing your ministries all in one system is a key feature to look for in church management software. Juggling spreadsheets and managing data in disparate systems not only increases the possibility of inaccurate information but also affects operational costs, efficiency, and your staff’s ability to work together.

A parish management software with a unified experience has many benefits for parish staff such as:

  • Seamless management of sacramental records
  • Mobile integration for parish staff and leaders
  • Liturgical ministry and volunteer scheduling
  • Facilities management
  • Data-driven evangelization
  • Growing engagement with parishioners
  • Strengthening community and spiritual growth

Event Planning and Communication Features

Inviting parishioners to gather as a community throughout the week is an important part of encouraging people to return to Mass every Sunday. By creating an engaging environment of digital and in-person prayer, support, formation, and events, you’re able to develop a vibrant parish life for your parishioners.

A parish management platform with integrated communication tools simplifies keeping everyone connected and on the same page:

  • Push notifications to alert members of upcoming events and campaigns
  • Liturgical minister or volunteer scheduling
  • Booking events and reserving rooms
  • Upcoming Mass schedules for holy days of obligation
  • Communication tools for ministries and small groups

When it comes to the success of building your parish community, communication is key.

User-Friendly Capabilities

A difficult and outdated system can complicate a parish’s daily operations in numerous ways. It makes ministry work more challenging to complete and even less joyful to carry out.

A system that’s designed to be user-friendly reduces the burden on your staff, simplifies processes, and enhances efficiency so that you can prioritize your mission and pastoral care for the people you serve in your community.

How to Evaluate and Choose the Right Software

When it’s time to choose a parish management software, you need to weigh your parish’s specific needs versus what you’ll get in terms of tools and how much it can cost.

Start by gathering the experts in your parish. Include key decision makers and software experts with insights into what’s trending in parish software, and meet regularly with them to discuss your vision and what technology you’ll need to meet your needs. Many parishes have technology committees that meet throughout the year to discuss their budget, needs, and how it affects their future. Take a look at a recent blog that gathers top questions that we’ve received from parishes around the country inquiring about our software.

Understanding Your Parish’s Unique Needs

We’ve discussed some of the benefits of adopting a parish management system, but at the end of the day, you need to determine which specific obstacles you’re facing.

  • If you find that attendance is low, you want to prioritize a communication tool.
  • If your parish has trouble funding expenses, a financial monitoring and management tool can help.
  • If you find that Mass attendance is full, but events and volunteers are scarce, you should look into a platform that can manage your member data.

From there, choosing the right parish technology becomes easier as you can scratch platforms with too many features off your list.

Comparing Different Options

Does reading through every feature of multiple parish technology platforms seem daunting and overwhelming? We’ll assume the obvious answer is yes. Fortunately, we have a few quick tips to whittle down the options. Here are some questions you should ask:

  • Is this platform scalable to my needs?
  • Can I choose certain features or add them as I need?
  • What if I don’t need every feature listed?
  • Is there a simple guide to get me started when I do choose one?
  • Is my parish data safe?
  • Can I contact you for assistance every step of the way?

Additionally, we have a handy table available to get a quick overview of the features we offer. Take a look to get started!

Budget and Cost Considerations

Some platforms have a large upfront cost (which varies depending on the plan you choose); some parish technology platforms operate on a subscription basis (monthly costs); some have a sign-up fee and then have a monthly maintenance fee. In some cases, data rates may apply to text-based services. Fortunately, most have a free trial period where you can play with the platform and get a feel for it before fully committing.

Once you do choose a platform, it’s important to make sure that you can budget for the costs whether they’re upfront or recurring; however, harking back to financial management tools inherent in platforms like Pushpay, you’ll be able to get deeper insights into costs and how you can reduce excess expenses, increase offertory, and maintain a robust parish technology platform to grow your community.

Implementing the Software and Training Your Team

Congratulations! So you’ve chosen a parish technology platform. Now what? It’s time to get the system up and running and training your team is the next step. Following these simple steps will ensure a smooth adoption and you can all start implementing new tools and reaping the benefits immediately.

Setting Up and Onboarding

Onboarding involves communicating with your team and your parishioners about your new software so that they can begin to:

  • Create profiles for your leadership team
  • Determine who gets admin permissions
  • Create multiple groups for leaders and parish members to have them in the right place from the start
  • Sign leaders up for training opportunities

By working closely with your software provider, you’ll be able to onboard efficiently and be ready to learn and lead.

Training for Different User Levels

While Pushpay’s ParishStaq platform is intuitive and easy to use out of the gate, you can always learn more to better leverage the tools to meet your specific needs. Here are a few ways you can get admins and power users in your leadership team more familiar with the solution.

For those who only need minimal training, Pushpay offers on-demand recorded training modules through Pushpay University. Anyone on your team with access can simply log in to start learning. To take your training to the next level, you can reserve a spot in our virtual training sessions where one of our specialists will host a tailored course to teach your staff best practices for the software and answer any specific questions you have to overcome the challenges your parish leadership team faces.

For the most in-depth training, you can schedule time with our Customer Success team to target areas in your workflow where you’ll need more support. Our award-winning staff will always be ready to support you every step of the way.

Ongoing Support and Updates

Regardless of which church management software you choose, you should know that there is a dedicated support team available to help. At a minimum, you should have full access to a library of help articles that can guide you through resolutions step-by-step. Better than that, a dedicated support team to answer customer support tickets is a necessity when FAQs can’t help.

Pushpay offers both of these features, and our Pushpay team is available to answer your questions and solve any technical issues your parish may face.

Lastly, choose a parish management solution that regularly updates the platform to simplify user experience, ensure everything runs smoothly, and protects sensitive data. When in doubt, always reach out and ask the company what their update rollouts look like.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a church management software, but the benefits are always worth it. At the end of the day, your parish’s number one goal is to connect and grow your community to lead your parishioners in their spiritual journeys. Being bogged down with ad hoc communications and data management tools takes time away from being the beacon in your community. Choosing the right parish software solution alleviates those burdens.

For more information about how Pushpay can help your parish overcome your unique church management challenges, take a look at our software solution for Catholic parishes and dioceses.

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