It’s about relationships.
Technology is no longer just about the latest, greatest, or flashiest thing. It’s about relationships. Think about it: You don’t use the messages app on your phone because it has the coolest or most robust interface, you use it because it enables you to talk to the people you already care about.
Likewise, your church community expects to be able to interact with your ministry in the same way. But the reality is, while technology is a necessary bridge between a church and its members, most churches struggle to make smart tech-buying decisions that don’t just help connect members in the short term, but help the church fulfill its long-term mission.
While each church’s workflow and order of service is different, and every tech solution may not fit every congregation, there are some non-negotiable features you should look for in every potential technology buy:
Does it nurture participation?
Any member-facing tool should have a strong mobile device presence. People already spend, on average, five hours a day on mobile devices. To nurture healthier participation and engagement, strive to get a piece of that time. Through targeted—and actionable—push notifications, quick polls, and consistent delivery of excellent media (sermon videos, music, etc.), congregants can participate in church at their convenience. This is especially helpful for times when people are out of town or sick and unable to attend in person.
Your tech solution should also feature your church’s events on a single platform. Members should be able to register for events at any time, whether they’re at a worship service, lunch, or watching a baseball game.
Does it nurture generosity?
Your giving solution shouldn’t make it difficult for people to give—it should make it easier for them to give more. This means your giving tool should have strong mobile capabilities since people are familiar with making financial transactions on their mobile devices. Your tech solutions must drive people to mobile so that your community can give whenever and wherever they feel led to do so. Look for features that simplify the process for your donors and helps nurture giving.
For example, your church needs a way to easily move people to mobile when they give through other means like cash or check. You’ll want the ability to share preconfigured giving links that allow donors to give a specific amount to a specific cause. Technology should never be a barrier for your givers—it should always make giving simpler.
Does it come with expert coaching and support?
You didn’t get into the ministry to drown in IT and cybersecurity, and you shouldn’t have to launch and sustain your church technology by yourself. Require new partners to come to the table with significant resources in coaching and support. An effective technology partner has helped thousands of other organizations effectively use its product. It’ll lean into that experience to help make your experience better.
Your tech provider’s support team should understand your unique church needs and mission and understand how their product can improve your processes. Because your biggest days are often on weekends, you need support that’s available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Don’t settle for anything less.
Does it simplify financial workflows?
Your technology should help you manage and engage your donors, tie your financial systems together, and reconcile your finances as simply as possible. Your staff is already trying to do more with less, and your church technology must be able to save them time and effort.
Features like batch entry of digital and offline gifts, annual giving statements, remote check deposit, and historical transaction imports aren’t just features that are nice to have.
These are all must-have features that today’s churches can’t thrive without.
Does it personalize the journey?
Your members expect a personalized experience each time they use your tech offerings. If your tech solution looks templated and impersonal, you lose credibility and trust. Tech giants like Amazon, Ebay, Google, and Netflix have taught users that technology can provide a unique and personalized experience. Your congregants want this same experience from their church.
Your tools should allow you to easily create a personalized experience for your members. They want to see your name, logo, and color palette when they use the tool—not the tech provider’s. The first screen your users visit on your technology will be the most-visited, making it a critical piece of communications real estate. It’s the perfect opportunity to add your church’s mission, vision statement, and images for consistency across platforms.
Does it safeguard trust?
Your congregation must be able to trust your church in order for you to have an effective platform for ministry. Your tech solution should help you build this trust by working effectively every time but especially when you need it the most. Tools like your giving solution should work consistently and safeguard donors’ financial information every time without fail.
What does the data say?
When it comes to evaluating your giving solution, you need to look for an additional feature:
Data. Information about how your members use the giving solution is important to have, not only to make smart decisions concerning new tech options but also to understand and plan around members’ giving patterns.
If your current giving solution can’t answer the following questions, you need a new tool:
- What percentage of our church currently gives digitally?
- What percentage of our givers are “recurring givers”?
- What percentage of our givers give through mobile devices?
- What percentage of giving happens outside of times when we normally hold services?
Track Record Matters
While every church’s technology use differs, they can certainly learn from each other when it comes to adopting new tech. Whenever you’re looking for tech solutions, ask potential vendors for case studies from churches like yours. Case studies can help you get a picture of how a specific tool has benefited other churches. Ask for references from churches with a similar size and demographic makeup to get a feel for what the platform can do from a church’s perspective. Some tech solutions that work for small churches won’t work for larger ones and visa versa.