Health and Growth

The Church Software Revolution: 9 Digital Tools Every Church Needs to Be Successful

These 9 digital tools were strategically designed to give churches industry-leading professionalism and healthy church growth.

The Church Software Revolution: 9 Digital Tools Every Church Needs to Be Successful
by

Paul Maxwell

Church software is the future of pastoral professionalism.

Novices will continue to rely heavily on pen and paper.

Amateurs will continue to jury rig organizational efficiency, effectiveness, and professionalism by cobbling together GSuite, PayPal, and a host of other monthly subscription services that weren’t optimized for churches.

Here’s the hard truth:

In an emerging market of software services, churches that don’t use church software such as church management software, event registration software, giving software, and a church app already are already late adopters. 

Here’s the good news:

Church software is finally in a phase of technological maturity where it’s actually really good.

Most pastors think that with new church software comes new problems.

Many pastors think that using church software will require them to become tech gurus.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Good church software gives you the best of both worlds—it actually simplifies all of the complicated analog systems that go into managing a church and it increases your effectiveness.

In this article, we’re going to break down the 9 pieces of church software you should have, and why that number (9) shouldn’t scare you at all.

Let’s jump right into it.

1. Church Management Software (ChMS)

Church management software enables your church to see every piece of member data that makes up your church.

This supplies two possibilities—(1) to see the big picture, and (2) to see the granular details.

For example, if you use a ChMS like Tithe.ly ChMS, you can track new visitors, member attendance, member giving, leadership management, financial statements, service planning, internal communication, advanced analytics, and data sharing, all within a highly intuitive and professional workspace. 

Imagine having a website dashboard for your church that gave you every single detail, and allowed you to look at those details in beautiful big-picture configurations that made sense.

Think of having a ChMS like having an on-call doctor monitoring your health. You would know every detail so that if something goes wrong, or there is a possibility for growth and improvement, you could spot it, turn it into an opportunity, fix any problems, and course-correct for any mistakes in real-time.

The real question is this: If you don’t have a ChMS … how do you know what’s going on in your church? 

Are you reading tea leaves?

If you don’t have ChMS, you are missing critical data. Neglecting to use a ChMS at your church is like neglecting to go to the doctor. 

If you use Microsoft or Google to store data, to get the same thing as a ChMS, not only would you have to manually collect and enter every piece of data every single Sunday—you would have to spend so much time analyzing it that your church would have to hire an entire team of data scientists to understand it and report it.

At Tithe.ly, our philosophy is that we will give you the technology and tools to collect and understand the information that best indicates the health, trends, and potential blind spots in your church.

But there’s a more important reason to have a ChMS: 

It’s the first building block of any other piece of technology.

Your ChMS is the hub through which you can make possible the launch and management of any other church software.

Without it, any other piece of church software is far less efficient.

2. Church Event Registration Software

If you don’t have event registration software, then your current event strategy is akin to throwing a penny in a wishing well and hoping people show up.

Event registration software enables you to create kiosk sign-ups (with any browser), online sign-ups, registration payment, sign-up tracking, discount codes, ticket scanning, tiers of participation, and marketing management.

With event registration software, you can automate and digitally optimize your entire event experience from messaging to boots-on-the-ground execution.

Church event management software basically gives your church leadership team the ability to be your own TicketMaster. 

Again—without it, you’re basically betting on the belief that your church isn’t going to grow.

The more you grow, the more necessary is church event registration software.

By neglecting to use church event registration software, you are kneecapping your church’s capacity to grow by at least 65%, depending on your size.

3. Church Giving Software

Church giving software is the beating heart of high-return church software.

Without church giving software, your church basically uses a casino model of cash collection—a guy with a transparent green visor and a cigarette counting cash in the back room. 

Well … maybe he doesn’t have the visor or the cigarette (depending on your denomination).

But the cash tracking method is the same.

All non-digital money collection methods are highly susceptible to fraud, theft, mismanagement, miscalculation, and high time wasting due to exponentially large analog tasks.

With church digital giving software such as Tithe.ly Giving, your church is able to centralize its donations in the ChMS and make it available through the church app (more below) so that tithing (and special single-time gifts) is as easy as buying a cup of coffee with the Starbucks app.

With church digital giving software, every dollar is automatically accounted for. Every donation receipt is automatically generated. Every payment can even be automatically scheduled for any iteration of time—monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, etc. 

4. Church Website Platform

Your church website platform is critical. 

If you use an inefficient system that forces you to compromise on design, or spend thousands of dollars on customization, then you are using the wrong platform.

Use a platform that streamlines user experience on the back end, easily integrates with your giving platform, looks fantastic, and is easily optimized to convert web visitors into first-time church visitors.

5. Church Website Optimization Software

Without church website optimization software, you might as well start a church blog and pray you get more than 10 visits … per month.

A great example of church website optimization software is Church Hero, which automatically pops up and creates a scheduled event that appears on the schedules of the new visitor and the designated pastoral staff, so that the church knows who’s visiting, how best to follow up, and what the best plan is to help convert that interested website browser into a dedicated and tithing member.

6. Church Worship Planning Software

If you use church worship planning software—which is native to Tithe.ly ChMS—you are saving yourself about 1 Billion gmail chains (not an exaggeration) made up of 90% time changes, cat memes, and song suggestions that no one wants to take.

Church worship planning software enables your team to update and automate their worship planning experience so that the entire team can see, practice, record, and collaborate for any service where worship is needed.

7. Church App

A church app is one of the most important pieces of church software on the market. Every single church needs one. 

Pastors often think: “We have a website for that!” 

Can your website send push notifications? Or are you sending out “last minute emails” to people with urgent information? Once churches get the Tithe.ly Church App, they never send “last minute emails” ever, ever again.

Can your website automatically be updated from your google calendar? The Tithe.ly Church App can.

Can people bring your website to church to take sermon notes that automatically generate a beautiful PDF they can export to email? The Tithe.ly Church App can do that.

There’s a common joke about tech going around. When someone expresses a need, someone else is supposed to say: “There’s an app for that.”

“I broke my foot and can’t get up. I have no food in the house and I’m starving.” There’s an app for that.

“Ugh. I forgot to feed my dog, and I won’t be home until late tonight.” There’s literally an app for that.

“I want to see where crime is being reported in real time in my neighborhood.” App.

Now, think about your church. What problems do you face—big or small?

Write a list 100 items long—there’s an app for that. It’s called Tithe.ly Church App, and it is a custom church app that displays your church sermon feed and blog, looks better than any other church app, enables church notes, syncs with event registration, tithing, and ChMS, and even stores a dynamically updated church calendar, including individual user accounts for every member.

Yeah. 🤯

8. Text Marketing for Churches

Text marketing is very important for your church to adopt.

This is a newer piece of technology, but it will inevitably replace much of needless email communication.

It’s just a fact.

Text marketing must be used delicately, because people are sensitive to receiving texts they don’t want to receive.

But people are increasingly used to being texted by businesses and apps.

“Your car is ready for pickup.”

“Reply Y to confirm your appointment.”

“The date has changed from X to Y.”

Churches need to adopt this form of direct, opt-in, short-form communication to keep the right groups of people up to date on the latest information relevant to themselves and their families.

It’s simple for churches to add text marketing to their communication strategies, as long as they’re using the right technology.

9. All-In-One

The ultimate form of church software is the one that integrates all of these technologies into a single-sign-in portal and allows you to manage your entire church technology program like Tony Stark.

The bad news:

There’s no church Iron Man suit (even though the youth pastor tried to buy one).

The good news?

This all-in-one, single-sign-on church software does exist with Tithe.ly.

If you go with Tithe.ly, you can ditch the life of stringing together 10 different subscription services to create a makeshift church technology plan. 

That doesn’t work anymore.

Real pastoral professionals use these tools. And Tithe.ly offers them all in a single sign-on. 

Website.

Web optimization.

Texting.

App.

Giving.

Events.

ChMS.

All of it.

… And you need it.

Over to you

Church software shouldn’t be intimidating.

Church software makes everything easier.

Church software replaces old, analog systems of management and communications with new, better systems.

The earlier you adopt an all-in-one church software solution, the better your church will be able to adapt for the next decade of ministry.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

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:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

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.

Church Donation Letter Samples

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.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

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]!
Sincerely,
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

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.
Sincerely,
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

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.
Sincerely,
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

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.
Sincerely,
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

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.
Sincerely,
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

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:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

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.

What’s next?

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?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

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.

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The Church Software Revolution: 9 Digital Tools Every Church Needs to Be Successful