How to Calculate the Actual Return on Investment for Church Tech

How to Calculate the Actual Return on Investment for Church Tech

Technology has transformed many church processes and systems. But with so many options (and limited resources), it’s hard to know where to invest your time, energy, and money. How should you pick and choose which technological solutions to adopt? And once you choose a technology, how do you know that the investment is paying off?

It’s vital that you develop a process for calculating your return on investment (ROI). You need to know that a tech solution’s benefit is higher than the cost. This enables you to back away from bad decisions, which is particularly critical if you’re paying for a subscription service.

Calculating Your ROI

Typically, a business analyzes the ROI of a decision with a fairly simple formula: ROI = Earnings/Cost

If a company spends $100,000 on new equipment that enables them to make $150,000, their net gain is $50,000. So their ROI is 50,000/100,000 = 0.5—or 50 percent. Any company whose ROI is above 50 percent should be pretty pleased with their purchase.

That makes a lot of sense for a company that measures value in dollars, but a church doesn’t necessarily work that way. It’s not a money-driven business, and it’s a little harder to convert things that matter into numbers. But for some aspects of church operations, it works.

This kind of measurement is more natural to make when you’re considering a giving software, because the cost and net gains are pretty easy to translate. But as a church, you have more considerations to make when thinking about your ROI.

Other Factors to Consider

Since a church’s technological spend isn’t always intended to improve the bottom line, calculating your ROI takes a bit of work. Here are some other factors you’ll want to consider:

1. Long-term and short-term goals

You can’t always attach a positive or negative dollar amount to a decision. In place of that, you need to look at your goals. Here are some questions to keep in mind:

  • What long-term or short-term goals are you hoping this investment will help you achieve?
  • How much are you willing to invest to move the dial closer to the goal?
  • How long do you estimate it would take you to meet this goal without this investment?

2. Efficiency

Sometimes, the return on an investment is about making things easier and more convenient. You can measure gains like…

  • Cutting down friction and frustrations.
  • Freeing up staff and volunteer time.
  • Eliminating unnecessary paperwork.
  • Easier record keeping and administration.
  • Creating a more comfortable and relaxing environment for attendees.
  • Communicating better.
  • Increasing giving.
  • Allowing more attention for other priorities.

Costs You’ll Need to Consider

When you think about the value of new tech, you’ll need to consider more than the initial investment. Here are a couple of factors you’ll also need to keep in mind:

  • How much training was required for this solution?
  • How helpful and attentive was customer support?
  • How much work went into getting staff, volunteers, and church members to adopt this new solution?
  • How much upkeep will be required in the future?
  • How much will this service cost us in the long term? Is it a subscription or a one-time purchase?

Choose a Time Frame

Calculating your ROI toward a goal isn’t immediate. There’s lots of training and onboarding involved, and then you’ll need some time for the flywheel to turn over. So pick a time frame that’s relevant to the investment you’re calculating. Do you need to give it six months before you start analyzing the outcome? A year? More?

Are You Maximizing Your ROI?

To measure the ROI of a tech purchase, you need to make sure you’re using all of its features and have everyone on board. Otherwise, a bad ROI might point at weaknesses in the organization more than deficiencies in the tool. For instance, fitness may be your long-term goal, but you can’t adequately judge the ROI of a gym membership if you never go.

Let’s say that you invest in a church app. This investment has the potential to boost church engagement, improve communication, and increase giving. But a lackadaisical attempt at getting your church on board is going to negatively impact your perceived return on that investment. It’s critical that you follow best practices for implementing a tech solution in your church, and that might require steps that you wouldn’t have considered on your own.

Once you’ve considered all of the potential costs and benefits of a tech or software solution, and you’ve done everything you can to use that solution to its full potential, you’re ready to focus on the ROI.

If you’re interested in getting a better idea of how ROI works for churches (or want to make sure that you’ve walked through the best implementation for your Pushpay app), check out this checklist for implementing Pushpay at your church.

Jayson D. Bradley

Jayson D. Bradley is a writer and pastor in Bellingham, WA. He’s a regular contributor to Relevant Magazine, and his blog JaysonDBradley.com has been voted one of the 25 Christian blogs you should be reading.