I’ve had many people ask lately about options in regards to church management software – particularly which software is easy to use and cost effective when it comes to kids check-in/check-out functions.
As a result, I surveyed some people around the state, from different church contexts, sizes, ministry types and geographical areas. I also did some research online to find what could be helpful.
So here’s what I found.
Please keep in mind that the main goal here was to think through the lens of kids check-in/check-out processes, so I have made that the priority consideration. There may be other significant reasons (budget, member/attendance record keeping, CCLI integration for worship, calendar, member portals and rostering volunteers – just to name a few!) your church may have chosen other church management software types.
Lots of our churches are using Elvanto and appreciate its functions. The website is described as “a cloud-based church management system that provides churches functionalities to manage members, groups, volunteers, events, check-in and finances.”(https://www.softwareadvice.com.au/software/392696/elvanto)
- For the most part it is easy to store data, create services/events, use the calendar, track & communicate with members, volunteers and create rosters.
- It integrates well with CCLI/Song Select and worship team/service planning functions, as well as other digital software services such as Safe Ministry Check.
- It’s also reasonably priced (based on feedback from mostly mid-sized churches).
- A huge plus is being able to have multiple sign-in locations/tablets on the go at once.
There were a few churches that reported that because of it’s overall ease of use, price and functionality across all church areas, that they were willing to stick with Elvanto, and appointing a team member to oversee check-in/out each week was the necessary solution. However: –
- It is difficult to obtain tech support as it is no longer an Australian based company.
- Teams and parents have found it difficult to use the check-in/out function when checking kids into programs. There’s a considerable amount ‘back-end data’ that an administrator needs to obtain/check is correct before a child will ‘show up’ as a participant to be checked into a certain ‘room’. If it’s not there on the day of the program, it’s difficult to fix immediately.
- It requires some hands-on leadership to ensure the technology sends the correct data to the sticker printer to ensure the correct sticker and information is printed each time.
- Given that it needs a hands-on approach for troubleshooting when parents can’t either, find their child on the list to check in, or can’t get the printer to print the correct thing, it can create a bottleneck at the sign-in desk that is uncomfortable for newcomers, and awkward for parents wanting to get to the service.
- A few churches have therefore resorted back to hand-written sign-in/out as a result, which they then input into Elvanto later in the week as a report to store the data. Others have opted for a hybrid approach with a kid check-in specific software that works with Elvanto (discussed below) .
“Planning Center is an all-in-one church management system designed to help you and your team communicate, organize information, coordinate events, and connect with your congregation. Services provides an effortless way to schedule volunteers, Registrations simplifies the event signup process, and People offers automations to follow up with visitors. You can use Check-Is to quickly and securely check in students and volunteers, Calendar to plan and post events for church-wide visibility, Giving for easy online donations and pledge campaigns, Groups for small group organization and messaging, and Publishing for creating and sharing content with your church.”
I have to say, the people who used Planning Center were the most passionate about loving their software choice.
- Though it is more expensive than Elvanto, it has options to purchase functions piece-by-piece, so you can build your software to suit your needs and size, and not pay for functions you don’t need.
- Integrates well with other digital software services such as CCLI/Song Select, Safe Ministry Check etc.
- Check in/out processes can be set up as a single or many stations, with 3 options –
- Manned Station: Enter new household information on the spot, or look regulars up by name.
- Roster Station: Run check-in “clipboard style” off lists of people assigned to a specific classroom.
- Self Station: Families can quickly check themselves in using a phone number or scanning a barcode on the Church Center app.
- https://www.planningcenter.com/check-ins has heaps more info if you want to check out their functions.
- Overall more expensive option, though not for those who were purchasing smaller functions piece-by-piece. Not a lot of other negative feedback.
A few of our churches (including those who are multi-campus) were using UCare with great feedback. “UCare is a full-featured cloud-based church management system with easy-to-use systems that provide four key solutions for churches. It includes interactive calendars, membership management, event booking and catering, donation tracking and more. UCare users can access their own data from any device or platform with our secure web portal available on desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones.”
On top of the fact that it is easy to use and integrate across the whole church and service functions, the following things were noted specifically about the Check-in/out processes. (For their full ‘features’ list of check-in/out processes, read here: https://ucarehq.com/features/check-in-child-safety/)
- Super easy to set up and use with multiple printer compatibility
- Multiple check-in sites/tablets are an option, as well as multi-site options for multi campus churches
- Volunteer/team member check-in/out also available
- Allergies/medical notes can be printed on nametags
- Self check-in/out, Check-in/out via smart phone App, or manned station options available.
- Overall more expensive
- Budget/lowest price point does not include Child Check-in/Out function
Fluro website describes itself as a church management software that includes “database, communications, website, roster, media and people all connected in a seamless central place. Fluro provides the tools you need to supercharge your growth, and build deeper relationships with your people, from first ‘hello’ to church family and beyond…” People who used Fluro also felt very passionately about it’s functions and ease-of-use.
- As far as Check-in/out functions go it includes options to use parental PIN codes or printed tickets and name tags to guarantee that the right person is collecting each child.
- Options for self check-in on parents phone
- Options for automated check-out
- Not as expensive as some, and options to pay by size of church
- Integration for worship software and other software services more difficult than with others.
- Only allows child check-in at one place at a time.
- Less comprehensive than other management softwares, but potentially ideal for smaller simple churches/start ups.
Then, there were hybrid options that were software simply for check in/check out that churches integrated with their Church Management Software. These 2 were the most popular:
A “Check-in, attendance tracker, and database management software built specifically for Youth Ministry.”
- Free for ministries with under 25 kids!
- Overall cheaper option if check-in/out and kids/youth data storage is all you need
- Options to build database of parents and families
- Multiple check-in stations/tablets option and options to check in on App
- Attendance reports can be generated
- Super user friendly and easy to use
- Necessary to then integrate with wider church management software, & upload data elsewhere to store centrally
- No check-out function (though apparently this is coming!)
Kid Check is “a secure children’s check-in software that helps improve child safety, streamline check-ins and create peace of mind. The software is designed for organizations such as churches, fitness facilities, camps, daycares, activity centers, etc.”
- Specifically designed for children’s ministries
- Integrates easily with Elvanto and other church management software options
- Cheaper option if child/youth check-in/out is all you need
- Options for multiple check-in/out stations/tablets/sites
- Parent self-check in available
- Attendance tracking and other reports available to be generated
- For a full list of features and pricing check here: https://www.kidcheck.com/features-pricing/compare-editions/
- Very easy to use
- Still necessary to integrate to wider church management software to store data, however very easy to do so.
- Lowest price point/budget option has no option for multiple check-in/out stations.
So there you have it ! Not a fully comprehensive review of all functions and details of every platform, but based on our user-reviews and feedback from people in our networks, these were the most mentioned. They are worth investigating in further detail via the links- I didn’t even get to mention functions like birthday email prompts and other cool functions that you may like to have in your specific ministry! There were also some mentions of other Church Management Software options like SubSplash, Breeze and Simple Church, but as I didn’t know anyone who’d used them, I couldn’t recommend any feedback.
I hope this has been helpful for you – please let me know if I’ve missed important information or tips that you think could benefit others 🙂