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The Best Accounting and Bookkeeping Software for Churches

Here’s a quick guide to the best financial software designed with churches and nonprofits in mind.

We know. You didn’t get into ministry to become an accountant. You became a church leader to make disciples and share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Still, every church has to deal with finances. There are tithes and offerings coming in weekly. Meanwhile, there are bills to pay, needs to meet, and (often) salaries to be paid. It’s a lot to keep track of. Accounting software can help you navigate this terrain, even if you’re not a whiz in Excel and don’t know a debit from a credit. 

Common questions about church accounting software:

What Is Church Accounting Software?

There are lots of accounting software programs available for purchase, but when we talk about church accounting software, we’re talking specifically about those programs created for the needs of churches and nonprofits. These are often streamlined to focus on the specific use cases of ministries that receive donations on a regular basis.

How Is Software Different for Churches?

Because church leaders and pastors are not normally accountants, church accounting software is designed to be easier to use than some of their more robust, professional counterparts. The best choice for your church is the one that is simple enough to understand and use but contains enough features to save you time and money.

Why Do You Need Church Accounting Software?

There are two main reasons a church should invest in accounting software. First is that the right program will save you time. This will free you up from spreadsheets and receipts to focus on the work of ministry. The second reason is that, as followers of Christ, we are called to a higher standard. According to Captrust, about 1/3 of Americans are skeptical that charities are spending their funds properly. Church accounting software will help you report all your donations and expenses accurately so that anyone who inquires will find you’ve operated with integrity on all fronts. 

When is it Time to Replace Your Church Accounting Software?

In  2018, 29% of church accounting software buyers surveyed said “replace a dated system” was the top reason they needed new software. Simply put, it may be time to replace your current church accounting software of choice if you find that it no longer meets your needs as a church. Perhaps you need more users to be able to access the program, or it could be that as your ministry has grown, you need more features. When your accounting program is no longer saving you time but creating extra work for you or your staff, it’s time for a change. 

How We Chose the Best Church Accounting Software:

When it comes to accounting software for churches, there are a few important things to consider:

  • Who will be using the program? Do you have a large staff that needs to be able to access invoices, log expenses, and enter billing information? Make sure you choose a program that allows for the number of users you’ll need.
  • What features do you really need? Depending on the complexity of your church’s programs, you may not need all of the bells and whistles available. However, keep in mind that once you’ve decided on a program, it may increase costs to add features at a later date.
  • Will it actually save you time and money? No one wants to invest in accounting software only to discover that it’s overly complicated. You shouldn’t need to hire someone new in order to use the accounting program you’ve purchased! So, consider the level of expertise available to you right now, and choose a software solution that will meet you right where you are. 
  • Where will you be in five to ten years? It may be tempting to purchase just what you need at the moment, but it’s always good to plan for the future. If you’re forecasting significant growth or a change in ministry emphasis, choose the accounting software that future-you will appreciate. 

We’ve created this buyer’s guide with you in mind and ranked our favorites, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so be sure to investigate these on your own to see which will best meet the needs of your church now and in the future. 

Great Options Abound

Thankfully, there are lots of great church accounting software solutions on the market, any of which can supplement your current digital giving platform, including Tithe.ly Giving. Based on our research, here is a brief overview of some of the best options out there.

Jump to review:

1) QuickBooks

First off, there’s QuickBooks, the gold standard in accounting software. QuickBooks serves businesses and organizations of all sizes. The program is a popular solution for accounting professionals, as well as those who are self-taught.

It used to be that the main drawback of QuickBooks was its robust set of key features. It can be a little intimidating for those just starting out with the program. However, Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks, now has a version designed for churches and nonprofits. Among other features, the basic version, called QuickBooks for Church Plus, tracks income and expenses, creates invoices, automatically maximizes tax deductions (Intuit also makes the popular TurboTax software), runs reports, tracks miles, and manages 1099 contractors.

QuickBooks for Church Plus allows a church to have five users in the system, but upgrading to Advanced will increase that threshold to 25, and adds the ability to batch invoices and expenses, run analytics, and automate workflows.

There’s also QuickBooks Online, a slightly simplified version of the desktop program that allows users to log on from anywhere. If you’re working with an external tax professional, QuickBooks Online makes it a lot easier to share your information at tax time. There’s even QuickBooks Online Advanced, which boasts 37% faster invoice processing, according to internal tests by Intuit

Oh—and QuickBooks Online now features Tithe.ly integration. This means QuickBooks will sync directly with Tithe.ly, so you won’t have to manually move information over, saving you time and money.

2) Aplos

Aplos is a favorite for churches large and small. Key features include a generous number of tracking options. Churches can also create budgets and ledgers based on individual funds, projects, and ministries. 

Aplos also integrates staff payroll, so there’s no need to maintain a separate accounting system for regular (and irregular) paydays. 

If you’re leading a larger organization, Aplos offers advanced solutions with even more options so you can customize the software to meet your church’s unique accounting needs.

3) Power Church Plus

PowerChurch Plus’s name says it all. This program provides a powerful accounting system for small to mid-size churches that just need the basics, all at a reasonable, budget-conscious price. 

In addition to staple accounting features, PowerChurch Plus allows users to maintain a membership database and schedule events. Its strength is in its no-frills approach designed for churches. Rather than filling the program with add-ons that most churches don’t need, PowerChurch Plus keeps things simple. In an industry known for “feature creep,” this is indeed a blessing for busy pastors!

4) Wave

For smaller churches that don’t have an accounting line item in their budget, there’s Wave, a basic dashboard approach to accounting that comes in a free edition, making it the best price option available on the market today.

Wave boasts an intuitive user experience and is a great option for church leaders looking to dip their toe in the world of financial accounting software. There’s even a free edition of Wave’s invoice software to check out. 

Of course, if you want to get more out of your platform, there are a host of add-ons and pay-per-use features available too!

5) IconCMO

For mid-size churches, a great option is IconCMO, a fully-integrated, FASB-compliant church management system that includes accounting, plus other key features like document storage, event registration, membership, check-in, and more. 

One thing to be aware of: As your church grows, so does the cost. In addition, most of the features beyond basic church management and accounting come with an extra price tag. But if you’re looking to grow, IconCMO will grow with you.

6) Church360 Ledger

Church360 Ledger is a worthy choice for churches with lots of staff and volunteers. One of its primary benefits is the ability to have lots of users in different roles. If your church doesn’t have a dedicated administrator or accountant, Church360 allows you to let everyone on your staff play a unique role in tracking your organization’s finances and budgets.

Want the youth director to be able to add her expenses directly to your accounting system but don’t want her to have access to payroll information? Church360 has you covered. 

There are additional products from the same developer that will integrate with Church360 Ledger, so as your tech needs grow, so will your software choices. Just keep in mind, pricing can easily jump depending on your use case. 

If you want to check it out for yourself, Church360 offers an oddly-specific 37-day trial period. 

7) ShelbyNext Financials

ShelbyNext Financials is a cloud-based solution that includes a full suite of standard accounting features plus key elements created specifically for churches, including payroll and year-end tax reporting.

For example, the purchasing management process allows every church to define its own approval process. You create the parameters, and ShelbyNext will follow along to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Other honorable mentions include: 

If none of our top picks seem to fit your specific church accounting needs, be sure to check these out. 

Over to you

Church accounting software can sound about as far away from loving people like Jesus as possible, but the best church tech solutions always increase time and space for ministry. So, as you weigh the various accounting solutions for you and your team, consider the lives that may be changed by your decision.

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The Best Accounting and Bookkeeping Software for Churches

The Best Accounting and Bookkeeping Software for Churches

Here’s a quick guide to the best financial software designed with churches and nonprofits in mind.

Show notes

We know. You didn’t get into ministry to become an accountant. You became a church leader to make disciples and share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Still, every church has to deal with finances. There are tithes and offerings coming in weekly. Meanwhile, there are bills to pay, needs to meet, and (often) salaries to be paid. It’s a lot to keep track of. Accounting software can help you navigate this terrain, even if you’re not a whiz in Excel and don’t know a debit from a credit. 

Common questions about church accounting software:

What Is Church Accounting Software?

There are lots of accounting software programs available for purchase, but when we talk about church accounting software, we’re talking specifically about those programs created for the needs of churches and nonprofits. These are often streamlined to focus on the specific use cases of ministries that receive donations on a regular basis.

How Is Software Different for Churches?

Because church leaders and pastors are not normally accountants, church accounting software is designed to be easier to use than some of their more robust, professional counterparts. The best choice for your church is the one that is simple enough to understand and use but contains enough features to save you time and money.

Why Do You Need Church Accounting Software?

There are two main reasons a church should invest in accounting software. First is that the right program will save you time. This will free you up from spreadsheets and receipts to focus on the work of ministry. The second reason is that, as followers of Christ, we are called to a higher standard. According to Captrust, about 1/3 of Americans are skeptical that charities are spending their funds properly. Church accounting software will help you report all your donations and expenses accurately so that anyone who inquires will find you’ve operated with integrity on all fronts. 

When is it Time to Replace Your Church Accounting Software?

In  2018, 29% of church accounting software buyers surveyed said “replace a dated system” was the top reason they needed new software. Simply put, it may be time to replace your current church accounting software of choice if you find that it no longer meets your needs as a church. Perhaps you need more users to be able to access the program, or it could be that as your ministry has grown, you need more features. When your accounting program is no longer saving you time but creating extra work for you or your staff, it’s time for a change. 

How We Chose the Best Church Accounting Software:

When it comes to accounting software for churches, there are a few important things to consider:

  • Who will be using the program? Do you have a large staff that needs to be able to access invoices, log expenses, and enter billing information? Make sure you choose a program that allows for the number of users you’ll need.
  • What features do you really need? Depending on the complexity of your church’s programs, you may not need all of the bells and whistles available. However, keep in mind that once you’ve decided on a program, it may increase costs to add features at a later date.
  • Will it actually save you time and money? No one wants to invest in accounting software only to discover that it’s overly complicated. You shouldn’t need to hire someone new in order to use the accounting program you’ve purchased! So, consider the level of expertise available to you right now, and choose a software solution that will meet you right where you are. 
  • Where will you be in five to ten years? It may be tempting to purchase just what you need at the moment, but it’s always good to plan for the future. If you’re forecasting significant growth or a change in ministry emphasis, choose the accounting software that future-you will appreciate. 

We’ve created this buyer’s guide with you in mind and ranked our favorites, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so be sure to investigate these on your own to see which will best meet the needs of your church now and in the future. 

Great Options Abound

Thankfully, there are lots of great church accounting software solutions on the market, any of which can supplement your current digital giving platform, including Tithe.ly Giving. Based on our research, here is a brief overview of some of the best options out there.

Jump to review:

1) QuickBooks

First off, there’s QuickBooks, the gold standard in accounting software. QuickBooks serves businesses and organizations of all sizes. The program is a popular solution for accounting professionals, as well as those who are self-taught.

It used to be that the main drawback of QuickBooks was its robust set of key features. It can be a little intimidating for those just starting out with the program. However, Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks, now has a version designed for churches and nonprofits. Among other features, the basic version, called QuickBooks for Church Plus, tracks income and expenses, creates invoices, automatically maximizes tax deductions (Intuit also makes the popular TurboTax software), runs reports, tracks miles, and manages 1099 contractors.

QuickBooks for Church Plus allows a church to have five users in the system, but upgrading to Advanced will increase that threshold to 25, and adds the ability to batch invoices and expenses, run analytics, and automate workflows.

There’s also QuickBooks Online, a slightly simplified version of the desktop program that allows users to log on from anywhere. If you’re working with an external tax professional, QuickBooks Online makes it a lot easier to share your information at tax time. There’s even QuickBooks Online Advanced, which boasts 37% faster invoice processing, according to internal tests by Intuit

Oh—and QuickBooks Online now features Tithe.ly integration. This means QuickBooks will sync directly with Tithe.ly, so you won’t have to manually move information over, saving you time and money.

2) Aplos

Aplos is a favorite for churches large and small. Key features include a generous number of tracking options. Churches can also create budgets and ledgers based on individual funds, projects, and ministries. 

Aplos also integrates staff payroll, so there’s no need to maintain a separate accounting system for regular (and irregular) paydays. 

If you’re leading a larger organization, Aplos offers advanced solutions with even more options so you can customize the software to meet your church’s unique accounting needs.

3) Power Church Plus

PowerChurch Plus’s name says it all. This program provides a powerful accounting system for small to mid-size churches that just need the basics, all at a reasonable, budget-conscious price. 

In addition to staple accounting features, PowerChurch Plus allows users to maintain a membership database and schedule events. Its strength is in its no-frills approach designed for churches. Rather than filling the program with add-ons that most churches don’t need, PowerChurch Plus keeps things simple. In an industry known for “feature creep,” this is indeed a blessing for busy pastors!

4) Wave

For smaller churches that don’t have an accounting line item in their budget, there’s Wave, a basic dashboard approach to accounting that comes in a free edition, making it the best price option available on the market today.

Wave boasts an intuitive user experience and is a great option for church leaders looking to dip their toe in the world of financial accounting software. There’s even a free edition of Wave’s invoice software to check out. 

Of course, if you want to get more out of your platform, there are a host of add-ons and pay-per-use features available too!

5) IconCMO

For mid-size churches, a great option is IconCMO, a fully-integrated, FASB-compliant church management system that includes accounting, plus other key features like document storage, event registration, membership, check-in, and more. 

One thing to be aware of: As your church grows, so does the cost. In addition, most of the features beyond basic church management and accounting come with an extra price tag. But if you’re looking to grow, IconCMO will grow with you.

6) Church360 Ledger

Church360 Ledger is a worthy choice for churches with lots of staff and volunteers. One of its primary benefits is the ability to have lots of users in different roles. If your church doesn’t have a dedicated administrator or accountant, Church360 allows you to let everyone on your staff play a unique role in tracking your organization’s finances and budgets.

Want the youth director to be able to add her expenses directly to your accounting system but don’t want her to have access to payroll information? Church360 has you covered. 

There are additional products from the same developer that will integrate with Church360 Ledger, so as your tech needs grow, so will your software choices. Just keep in mind, pricing can easily jump depending on your use case. 

If you want to check it out for yourself, Church360 offers an oddly-specific 37-day trial period. 

7) ShelbyNext Financials

ShelbyNext Financials is a cloud-based solution that includes a full suite of standard accounting features plus key elements created specifically for churches, including payroll and year-end tax reporting.

For example, the purchasing management process allows every church to define its own approval process. You create the parameters, and ShelbyNext will follow along to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Other honorable mentions include: 

If none of our top picks seem to fit your specific church accounting needs, be sure to check these out. 

Over to you

Church accounting software can sound about as far away from loving people like Jesus as possible, but the best church tech solutions always increase time and space for ministry. So, as you weigh the various accounting solutions for you and your team, consider the lives that may be changed by your decision.

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