Do you use free church software? Rate your experience!
For those churches that feel there is just no way they can spare any funds on church management software, there are some other options to enable you to still track donors.
Before trying these options, you may want to check out this article regarding the “cost” of “free”.
Here are what we consider the top 5 FREE Church Software Solutions
1. Use a “Mail Client”
Now to be sure, programs like Outlook are not technically free, but there is a good chance that you already have it on your computer, and that makes it free right now. Other mail clients that are free include Gmail and Yahoo and outlook.com. Almost all of these mail clients can be used as great, simple, contact managers in place of church software. Most of them can even sync with your web accounts and mobile devices and have the ability to sync with social networks.
Spreadsheets are great for tracking a single list of people, like a list of folks helping with a project, or a large list you got online. You can use a spreadsheet to accomplish mail merging, run pivot tables, and do demographic studies. Spreadsheets start to lose their value when you find that you have some people on multiple spreadsheets, you want to track relationships between people, and you would like to do searches and queries of the data. So while spreadsheets are the best church software, they may be a temporary free solution.
3. Open Source
Then there is always open source. Open source programs are great because they are free, and there is open source church software available. Open source means simply that the software and the underlying framework was all developed by volunteers. Many times the open source program is an experiment, a project for school, or developers working at another company who want to work out the kinks with their program theory. Because of the experimental nature of open source, there are often lots of bugs. When you use open source programs, you should consider yourself an unpaid tester, or beta user. Usually folks who use open source software also provide feedback to the developers, or contribute in some way to the project. The obvious pitfalls with free open source programs is that, unless there is an incredible ecosystem for the program (like Joomla! for web development has) you will not receive any support whatsoever. Remember, no one is getting paid here, thus no one is really incentivized to answer your call for help.
4. FREE MODE
Some church software programs offer a “free” level of use, such as for tracking less than 100 people. This can be a great way to get started using a program if you are a church plant or just a really small church.
5. Mail Chimp
Mail Chimp lets you track up to 2,000 people and send up to 12,000 emails per month for free. You can keep basic contact information in the Mail Chimp record like you would in church software, and people can “unsubscribe” from your list at any time. Even better, you can add a “signup” form on your website for visitors who want more information. You’re not going to track a whole lot of detailed information with Mail Chimp, but it could be a great free start to tracking and communicating with people. Other programs similar to Mail Chimp but more complicated or difficult to use are Vertical Response and Constant Contact which they seem to heavily promote over at CCMAG.com
If you know of a free church software solution that is working really well for you, please share in the comments below! If you’re up for paying for a solution, you may want to check out CCMAGs comparison chart.