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Check-in stations can be a massive source of stress. Here's a guide to creating a church check-in station that's easy-to-find, fast, and secure.
January 18, 2019
Checking in children before your worship service can be stressful.
Most families in your church will not arrive 30 minutes before your service starts.
Families will arrive with enough time to check in their children to your children’s ministry before your worship service starts.
Know what else?
Other families (including mine) will show up just when your service is starting. I have five kids at home, and there are plenty of mornings when we’re rushing out of the door to get to our church’s worship service on time.
Getting to your church’s building or facility is one thing for families.
Families checking in their children to your children’s ministry is another thing.
Here’s the deal:
Families expect that your church’s check-in station is easy-to-find, fast, and secure.
Not getting any of these factors right will not only increase a family’s stress, anxiety, and awkwardness (I mean, who likes sitting down late after a worship service starts?).
Not getting your church’s check-in process dialed in can also discourage visitors from making a return visit.
To help you create a seamless and secure check-in process, I’m going to show you how to:
Let’s get started!
The first thing you’ll need to do is create a check-in station for your children’s ministry.
A check-in station is the place you’ll direct parents and guardians to check in their children. It’s a location people can sign in their kids and get the information they need about your children’s ministry.
The size of your church will influence the number of check-in stations you need to have. There’s no magic number to shoot for. But the main thing to keep in mind is efficiency.
For example, if it takes 10-15 minutes for a parent to check in their children before your worship service, then you’ll need to increase the number of check-in stations for people to use. This way you can reduce the amount of time it takes for someone to check in their children.
Where you position your check-in station and how you layout the area is up to you. But focus on making this location easy to find—especially for first-time guests.
Now that you have your check-in station in place, it’s time to get it ready for your church members and guests.
With Tithe.ly ChMS, the first piece of equipment you’ll need is a computer running Mac OS or Windows.
For the sake of over communication, whatever type of computer you use, be sure you can connect it to the Internet wirelessly or with a hardline. How you connect to the Internet will influence the location of your print station or place you in a position to purchase a WiFi booster or extender to ensure you have a consistent and reliable Internet connection.
For many of the churches we serve, they only use a computer—and that’s totally fine. At the end of the day, you just need to be able to check in children and keep them safe.
Interested in using a label printer?
Then check out the next step. If not, feel free to skip to step 4.
A print station is a great way to create a seamless and secure check-in process for the families in your church.
A print station is a device connected to a label printer.
To set up your print station with Tithe.ly, you can use three pieces of equipment:
I just covered what type of computer you’ll need above.
So the next piece of equipment you’ll need to use is a label printer.
A label printer can support a seamless check in and check out experience, and they can make it easier for you to create a secure environment and keep track of who’s coming and going.
Tithe.ly ChMS currently supports DYMO label printers.
For your print station, you can test these options:
For help setting up a label printer in your church with Tithe.ly ChMS, click here.
Another piece of equipment you can use is a barcode scanner.
A barcode scanner isn’t required. But using one can speed up the check-in process. With this device, your church member can bring a pre-printed barcode label or ID Card to check in quickly.
With Tithe.ly ChMS, the type of barcode scanner you use doesn’t really matter. Feel free to use something inexpensive or splurge on the latest device. What’s most important is that the scanned value of your barcode is the same as the profile of your church member.
Church security is essential to your children's ministry, and your children’s security doesn’t stop at check-in or check-out.
You also need to protect their information.
When families check in their children to your children’s ministry or church event, they will also share with you their personal information. From their child’s date of birth to relevant medical history, you’ll have access to information families don’t want you to share with just anyone.
To ensure that a child's information is secure, limit who can access this information in your church management software. With Tithe.ly ChMS, you can limit what information can be accessed by different people. For example, you may only want your children ministry volunteers to have access to information related to the children in their ministry instead of every volunteer and church leader to have access.
Limiting who can access family information is one extra level of security you can provide.
To help you think through who needs to know what in your church, ask these two questions:
In accessing a child’s information, your leaders in children ministry most likely will need access. But your worship leader probably doesn’t.
When it comes to the type of access you can provide, do you want your volunteers or staff to be able to see the information or do they need to keep it up-to-date or edit it?
After you answer these two questions, you’ll know who needs to have access to the information of the children in your church.
Talking about protecting your children, another added level of security you should provide is running background checks on your children’s ministry volunteers.
Require your volunteers to submit a background check.
This requirement will provide an extra level of safety for your children.
For larger churches in size, this step is a no brainer. It’s tough to review every volunteer carefully. For smaller churches, you may not feel this step is necessary. But that’s not the case.
Regardless of the size of your church, you should require volunteers to submit a background check before they’re allowed to serve and once every two years.
We cannot stress enough the safety of the children you serve.
The child’s safety is of vital importance, and the parents and guardians who give you the privilege of ministering to their children also expect their child/children to be safe.
By overlooking the safety of your children’s ministry, you are placing children at risk, and a visiting family in need of hearing the gospel and growing in Christ may not return if they’re not secure in how you handle things.
You’re going to run into a problem at some point with your check-in station.
Something’s not going to work, or someone won’t know how to work it.
Regardless of what goes down, you need to be prepared to resolve whatever problem you or your visitor runs into. To do this, you need to get people ready to help.
Thankfully, there’s not too much involved with training your volunteers.
Here’s a list of items you’ll need to cover:
Having trained volunteers at your church check-in station will ensure things run smoothly, and that children remain safe.
Are you launching a new check-in station?
Do you have a lot of new guests visiting your church?
If you answered “yes” to either one of these questions, consider running a pre-registration campaign to get people registered and comfortable with your check-in station.
To run a pre-registration campaign, it’s best to do so before children go back to school in the fall or spring. This way you can help as many parents and guardians register their children in your system ahead of time.
During this campaign, encourage families to share as much relevant information as possible. To best serve children in your children’s ministry, it’s ideal to have on file allergies, special needs, and even custody arrangements.
There you have it.
Everything you need to know to create an …
… easy-to-find …
… fast …
… secure check-in station for your church.
Ready to give up your pen and paper?
Interested in reducing your stress?
Need to create a more secure check-in station?
We’d love to make your church’s check-in station a great and safe experience for everyone.
In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.
Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.
Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:
A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.
Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.
With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.
To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.
The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.
Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving. So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.
Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.
Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.
Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.
Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.
Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:
There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.
Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?
And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.
Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.
How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.