Here are my bullet points from the interview:
- ChurchTrac allows you to enter up to 100 names for free. This is a great way to ensure that this is the right software for your church (without having to spend a dime).
- ChurchTrac is meant to be easy and intuitive. It's a great low-cost option for churches who are on a tight budget. Support costs are generally low.
- Very cool feature that lets you send out a mass reminder phone call to members of the church. This can be a great way to remind members about an event (huge time saver).
Read below for the full interview with Byron, an employee of ChurchTrac.
How can ChurchTrac help smaller churches that are just starting up?
Byron (ChurchTrac Employee): ChurchTrac is the perfect software solution for new church starts and for smaller churches. That’s because smaller churches can use ChurchTrac for free. It is our ministry to the churches who might not otherwise be able to afford a quality church software program—helping churches to more effectively minister is the heart behind what we do. The program allows you to enter up to 100 names and there’s no cost until you need to enter more. There are no hoops to jump through—just download, install and start using ChurchTrac. Additionally, the free users don’t get a watered-down version—everything in the program is accessible.
But free software that doesn’t deliver is no benefit to anyone. That’s why ChurchTrac does everything from membership management to Sunday school, attendance tracking to absentee follow-up, contributions, accounting, and everything in between.
Many times new church startups don’t have a central office, which can make sharing information challenging. ChurchTrac is able to bridge this gap with our data sharing feature. This allows multiple computers in different locations to share ChurchTrac data and stay in sync with each other. (This feature is one of two optional add-ons we offer, but it only costs about 5 dollars a month to add the data sharing). The data sharing feature also works great for pastors and staff who have laptops or for churches that have volunteers who work from home. Unlike web-based programs, this means that your data is always accessible, even when you’re not connected to the internet.
What sets ChurchTrac apart from all the other major church management software programs available?
Byron: ChurchTrac is a software program that was created to be a blessing and help to Christian-based churches and ministries. The fact that we give it to smaller churches for free is unique in the industry. We also have a tiered pricing structure for churches that need to enter more than 100 names, which is pretty unique. With our tiered pricing, the fewer the names you need to enter, the less it costs. Regardless of which level your church needs, ChurchTrac is perhaps the most reasonably priced church software product on the market, in most cases costing hundreds of dollars less than others.
One of the things that we hear frequently from our customers is how easy ChurchTrac is to use compared to other church software programs. ChurchTrac was designed from the beginning to be easy to learn and use, and that is reflected on every screen in the program. And as we get feedback from our customers, we do our best to make ChurchTrac even better by listening to their suggestions.
Because ChurchTrac is easy to use, our technical support system is also different from most software companies. Many software companies have expensive support packages that you must buy, or offer expensive training seminars that you almost have to attend if you want to learn how to use their package. In fact, selling “support” is a huge source of profit for most companies, so there is no incentive for them to make their programs easier to use. Our philosophy is to make the software as easy to use as possible. When you do need help, we offer a large selection of free help resources on our website, including tutorials, videos, and answers to frequently asked questions. Email support is also free. And if you do need to call us, you only pay a small fee per incident—which can save you hundreds of dollars compared to the annual support subscriptions other companies charge.
If you could show everyone interested in purchasing church management software just one screenshot from ChurchTrac, what screenshot would it be? (Please attach the screenshot). Would you be willing to explain the screenshot and tell us why it is important?
Byron: ChurchTrac is organized into a series of logical screens that give you quick access to areas of the program. For example, when you click on the People tab, the People screen is displayed, as shown here:
Like the People screen, each screen in ChurchTrac is intuitively laid out in two or more sections. Here, when you click a name in the list on the left, the information about that name is displayed on the right side of the screen. (The Contributions screen, for example, works in a similar fashion: When you click on a date on the left, the contributions from that date are displayed on the right).
Here we see a quick glance at the selected person’s contact and family information. You can also customize the user-defined fields, which allow you some flexibility in what information you want displayed on this tab. The People screen tabs give you quick access to other information about the selected individual, including their SHAPE ministry profile, pictures, notes, and more.
The People screen also gives you quick access to a large number of reports and communication options. You can quickly print birthday lists, mailing labels, maps, letters, send emails, and create custom reports, just to name a few.
ChurchTrac is also highly customizable. Any blue text box can be double-clicked to customize the contents of that field (and there are dozens of customizable fields in ChurchTrac). For example, the Member Status and Age Category fields are blue, so you can create your own categories for these fields. The User-Defined tab on the People screen gives you the added ability to create and customize your own fields for tracking information that isn’t already built into the program.
Your website mentions that ChurchTrac can be used for any size of church. What is the largest church, in terms of number of members, that is using your software? How many members do they have? (If you can’t divulge the name of the church, just give us the number of members: estimates are okay).
Byron: We don’t actually ask how large a church is when someone purchases our software, but we have a good idea based on which unlock code tier they purchase. Our most popular option is the 250 name unlock code—perhaps half of our paying customers are in churches running between 100 and 250 people. We do sell quite a few of the unlimited name packages too (I’d estimate that 1 in 5 purchases is an unlimited name unlock code).
My church uses ChurchTrac and we have over 1500 names in our database—so it can definitely handle that capacity with ease. With the data sharing add-on, ChurchTrac can easily accommodate churches with a couple thousand names and a dozen or more users and computers.
A lot of people are worried about being in compliance with the IRS and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). What is ChurchTrac doing to help ensure churches are in compliance?
Byron: ChurchTrac’s contribution and pledge reporting statements meet current IRS requirements as listed in IRS Publication 1771. The contribution statements also allow you to customize the messages that are displayed, so it is easy to change or update as necessary to meet your specific needs. ChurchTrac also has the ability to distinguish between a tax-deductible and non-tax-deductible contribution, and we offer some tips and a summary of some of these IRS guidelines in the knowledgebase on our website.
ChurchTrac’s accounting features are designed with simplicity in mind. Users who are familiar with the Quicken line of products will find that ChurchTrac’s accounting system is very similar. Based on a church’s accounting needs, we sometimes recommend that they supplement ChurchTrac with a professional-level accounting program. In fact, many churches use ChurchTrac’s excellent membership, attendance and contribution tracking alongside a dedicated accounting program like QuickBooks.
Anything else you would like to tell my readers about ChurchTrac? This is your chance to put in a plug for your product.
Byron: Having the right tools for the job makes a huge difference. And that’s what ChurchTrac is—a tool to help you stay organized, keep up with the people in your ministry, and perform the tasks you need to do to get the job done. Our mission is to equip churches and church leaders to more effectively fulfill their calling.
As such, we’re always striving to make ChurchTrac even better. We recently added a messaging feature that works like a phone tree. ChurchTrac can use your internet connection to call a list of numbers and deliver a pre-recorded message or text message. This enables you to deliver important messages to a lot of people in a short amount of time without having to purchase expensive equipment or extra phone lines.
Another new feature that we’ve recently added is our barcode check-in and child security screen. This allows you to use a barcode scanner to check in people as they arrive. It also allows you to print information tags for children, allergy information, security pick-up tags, and more. This feature helps to ensure that the children’s workers have accurate instructions from the parents, it guards the church against negligence, and it gives peace of mind to the parents who leave their children in your care.
Only a few of ChurchTrac’s features have been mentioned here. Perhaps the best way to learn more about ChurchTrac is to download it and give it a test run, or to read more about the features on the website. To download, just visit our website, www.churchtrac.com and click on the Download Now button.