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We’ve been talking to folks from some of the 350,000 congregations around the country and have been hearing that they’d like more coverage of IT resources for religious oriented charities on TechSoup. They’ve also told us about some great, but little-known online resources that explore faith-based IT like the pros and cons of the different church member management software packages and website content management systems for congregation websites. We thought we’d share that with you.

Katherine Clark from Church of God in Virginia

One of our best conversations was with Katherine Clark who is the state administrative secretary for the Church of God in Virginia. Her office provides resources, staff trainings, and coordinates state events for 200 churches around the state. Katherine told our Dulcey Bower that her churches use Microsoft Office for their email and documents, Dropbox to share files, and sundry web applications for online communications. She also said that they learn about new technology mostly by word of mouth throughout their church network. That’s not surprising since faith-based organizations are all about community.

Church Technology Listservs

I’ve been following the discussions on the Unitarian Universalist techie listserv and it’s a great information sharing group. Another is the ChurchMgmtSoftware listserv. Beth Ogilvie and Margy Levine Young from that community compiled some survey results from the group. Here’s what they found regarding church management software:

  • Church Windows was the most widely used application, but over 40 percent of users said they wouldn’t recommend it.
  • PowerChurch was a close second, and over 80 percent of users said that they would recommend it.
  • Cloud based IconCMO had fewer users, but 100 percent of users said they’d recommend it.

Some Other Great, but Little-Known Online Resources

  • ChurchTechToday is a solid blog site by Lauren Hunter that covers an array of faith-based technology topics including social media, online giving, improving church websites, church AV, and mobile technology (including automated SMS messaging). I found her communications content particularly interesting like her piece 4 Technology Options that Might Kill the Church Bulletin. Lauren Hunter has written a series of free eBooks as well. Most of them are social media quick guides for using things like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
  • Church Tech Blogs is exactly what it sounds like: a blog aggregator site. The aggregator is hosted and maintained by Strange Idea Labs of Austin, Texas. It pulls from 22 church tech blogs like Church Tech Matters, Church IT Help, Worship Tech Online, and my favorite in terms of clever naming: Tech, No Babel. There are new posts every day, but unfortunately they seem to have only 22 readers. It’s a classic example of hiding a light under a bushel.
  • Church Tech Review is a technology review site for faith based specific IT. They review church member management software like Shelby, ACS, and Fellowship One. They also have sections on church CMS (website content management software), social media, and email solutions. This site also has a list of additional church tech bloggers.  
  • ChurchMag is an interesting blog roll by Eric Dye that explores the Intersection of church and technology. This one is a bit more cutting-edge, like its piece Wearable Technology in the Church: Why Not?. Their ‘about us’ mission statement is: “We've been insanely-interested in exploring how the Church, ministries, and non-profits use technology to effectively fulfill their mission to the world.”
  • Church Tech Dump is all about technology and design as it applies to faith based organizations. It features a collection of articles scoured from the web and by Eric Granata. This site features other organizations providing tech support for churches. I’m a little concerned about this site because the latest post by Eric Granata entitled “Goodbye But Not Farewell.” I hope he continues to curate this informational website.

TechSoup Donations for Faith-Based Organizations

We hope you know that we’re always adding more donations to the TechSoup Landing Page for Faith-Based Organizations where you can find several product donations including ones from Microsoft, and most recently from Huddle and Mobile Beacon. Huddle is a web-based project management, document sharing and collaboration service. Mobile Beacon offers low-cost 4G mobile broadband devices to provide Internet connectivity pretty much anywhere you need it.

The just released Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report reveals that faith-based organizations are leaders in online fundraising with an 18 percent increase in 2013. That’s the highest adoption rate in the nonprofit sector. TechSoup donations in this area include eTapestry web-based software for fundraising and donor contact management, DonorPerfect’s online fundraising and donor management service, and for organizations interested in engaging younger people, Connect2give's discounted online services to collect donations and communicate with members via mobile devices and the mobile web.

Additional TechSoup Resources 

Do you have any faith-based tech resources to add? Please log in to comment on this blog post.

Image: Aftab