Church inventory is a delicate subject for churches as it generates feelings of discomfort about the value of donated items, as well as feelings of neglect regarding stewardship over these gifts. Because these emotions exist, many churches choose to outsource their church inventory management to third party providers. These companies utilize software specifically designed to handle church inventory, making the church’s job easy and relieving them of this burden.
There are many Church Management Software packages out there, and some of them are very expensive. Church inventory software is only a small part of what church management software does. Church management software allows you to track attendance, manage finances, manage staff, create promotional materials and much more. These software programs can be used for tracking almost anything to do with your church. I am going to tell you about the best ones you can get from a price perspective and from a functionality perspective.
Just like families, churches have more than we think we have, not only financially but regarding their assets. While we think about the collection plate passed around at Sunday services or the monetary donation requests, there are many assets needed to operate the church on a daily basis such as musical instruments, electronics, office equipment, furniture, books and of course the structure itself. Managing all these parts and pieces, along with financial donations is a big undertaking, and many churches don’t have the admin staff to take on such a task. That’s why church inventory software is becoming more and more critical.
Many churches have exorbitant costs that the general congregation is unaware of. On average, an estimated $1,700 is spent on each regular attendee per year. And the chances are that number will continue to rise.
Church inventory software should be an essential part of your overall daily operations. Knowing what you have and its condition is vital for cost-savings measures and continual asset tracking. With financial data under very watchful eyes, many churches don’t have extra funds to replace equipment that lost or misplaced. By knowing what you already have, churches can save thousands of dollars in unnecessary replacements for items that “might” be lost, misplaced or stolen.
By knowing what you already have, churches can save thousands of dollars in unnecessary replacements for items that “might” be lost, misplaced or stolen.
How church inventory software can benefit churches
Today’s asset tracking software gives churches instant access to data that shows where an asset is, who has it, its repair/maintenance history, and even GPS coordinates. Finance or accounting departments appreciate the real-time data when it comes time to conduct audits, and it also helps with budgeting for special events or the upcoming year. The depth of information that church inventory software provides enables users to make better, more informed decisions, eliminates guesswork and costly errors, and ultimately, wasteful spending. What else does church inventory software offer?
That’s most important! With church inventory software, now your staff knows where assets are at any time. Never again will you find yourself asking where something is or if someone is using a particular asset.
By storing and keeping track of assets – whether they are seldom used or in constant demand – knowing where all assets are cuts down on wasted time and energy your staff spends searching for certain assets. You know exactly what you have and where it is. And that also translates into cost savings … no more buying replacement or duplicate items.
You never know how much you need an asset until it becomes unavailable. With more and more technological items being used in church environments, its imperative that they are kept in good working condition. Keeping up with maintenance schedules is important to ensure that equipment is usable at all times and doesn’t break down at the worst possible moment.
Huber Memorial Church in Baltimore, Maryland has multiple locations and assets being used from place to place. Since upgrading from the most basic way of tracking assets – pen and paper – to implementing church inventory software, they have seen a definite difference in how much more accurately and efficiently they can keep up with their valuable assets.
Church inventory software, like what’s offered by Asset Panda, is proving to be very valuable for churches. Users can scan barcodes using their smartphone or tablet (which is a great cost-saving measure) and instantly find location, quantity, maintenance history, user history, and much more on each asset.
Highly configurable, Asset Panda is the perfect asset tracking solution for churches that quickly integrates with existing systems, changing as your needs change for unlimited ways to organize and access the information you need throughout an asset’s entire lifecycle. Completely customizable, Asset Panda is not just incredibly powerful; it’s also very simple to use. Using devices your team is already carrying, our free Mobile App makes it simple to scan an asset for on-demand access or necessary information. Add pictures or documents, full access histories, generate reports, track maintenance schedules, audit, and get a full check in/check out the status on every asset entered into the system.
1. Asset Panda
Asset Panda has the cutest name and logo of any tool on this list, and also promotes itself as a solution for churches, citing features like affordability, configurability, and easy integrations. Rather than using separate barcode scanners, the cloud-based Asset Panda includes a free mobile app that turns existing phones and tablets into barcode scanners.
A finance officer at Macon Road Baptist School in Memphis said that Asset Panda was easy to use and liked that the app allowed anyone on the staff to quickly scan and identify equipment. He did, however, warn that initial setup and data entry can be a bear.
An IT administrator at The Rock Family Worship Center in Huntsville, wrote that the “Customer Support representatives were very professional and helpful. I appreciate their upbeat attitudes and follow through.”
Price: Based on number of assets, starting at $1,400 per year for unlimited users and features.
- Easy to use and customizable
- Free app eliminates need for separate barcode scanners
- Responsive support via live chat, email, and phone
- Initial setup can be a burden according to reviewers
- The app isn’t as sleek as the desktop interface
- Some users claim labyrinthine system of menus force them to turn to customer support
Have you used Asset Panda? Leave a review!
ParishSOFT, which has been in business since 1998, is the third most popular ChMS according to Capterra’s Top 20 Most Popular Church Management Software research. The Ann Arbor based company counts 12,500 customers and more than 20 million members as of August, 2016.
ParishSOFT’s web-based ConnectNow accounting package includes a fixed asset module that manages everything from buildings and land to equipment and vehicles, designed specifically for Catholic parishes.
Support is provided via phone, online documentation, and training videos. According to Capterra reviews, some users with larger congregations had issues with a slow connection on the web-based version, which is now the only option after the desktop version was discontinued.
Price: $100-$300 annual fee for the fixed assets module. Pricing not available for the accounting suite.
- Designed specifically for Catholic parishes (a pro if yours is a Catholic parish)
- Built-in tracking of buildings, land, vehicles, etc., in addition to IT equipment
- Depreciation functionality is optional for non-profit organizations that don’t need it
- Kinks are still being worked out with server capacity and speed
- Exact pricing is not available without requesting a quote
- No chat support
Have you used ParishSOFT? Leave a review!
Shelby Systems has been a major player in the church management game for more than 40 years now, so they’ve had lots of time to craft a solid product. The Tennessee-based company comes in at number seven on Capterra’s Top 20 Most Popular Church Management Software list.
Shelby’s Fixed Assets Application is an add-on to their cloud-based financial package. It allows for depreciation of assets which automatically updates the general ledger. It also provides information on replacement costs and projected replacement date. Shelby supports miniSCAN barcode readers ($1,695 for a package of six).
Reviews on Capterra noted challenging setup and difficulty with customer support.
Price: The base accounting package (general ledger, accounts payable, and bank account management for up to three users) is $199 per month. The fixed asset management module is an extra $30 per month. Each additional user is an extra $5 per month.
- Includes automatic depreciation of assets
- Integrates seamlessly with Shelby’s financial package
- Automatically corrects errors if previous calculations were incorrect
- Requires purchase of Motorola miniSCAN barcode readers for tagging
- Initial setup can be challenging, according to reviews
- Additional monthly fee for more than three users
Have you used Shelby Financials? Leave a review!
This list would not be complete without at least one open-source option, so meet Snipe-IT, which came recommended from a Facebook Church-IT user near Vancouver.
Snipe-IT, based out of San Diego, is open-source, which means you can download and use it for free. However, they do offer a hosted version with server set-up, installation, maintenance, upgrades, phone support, and priority email support for $29.99 per month with no contract, or $299.99 per year.
It is web-based and mobile-friendly, and runs on Linux, Windows, or Mac. Snipe-IT allows for custom barcode and QR label printing, and works with most handheld barcode scanners and mobile QR readers.
The alpha version—which includes new features like multi-field searches in asset listings and customizable fields—was released on April 6. Pending and requested features can be monitored at the Snipe-IT GitHub forum.
Price: Free (open-source). Hosted version is $29.99 per month or $299.99 per year.
- Free to download for unlimited users, assets, and admins
- Recently updated to include multi-field searches and customizable fields
- Offers a hosted version with phone support, maintenance, and priority email support
- Online support for basic users is through GitHub and Gitter
- No free trials for the hosted version, though there is a live demo available (and obviously, the open-source version is free to download)
- Not meant for churches without a dedicated IT staff
Have you used Snipe-IT? Leave a review!
When looking for the best church asset management tool, why not start your search with one of the most well-known all-around IT asset management tools? SolarWinds was ranked the Most Popular IT Asset Management Software by Capterra in October of 2016. The Austin-based company, founded in 1999, has more than 150,000 customers and 3 million users.
So is it a good fit for churches? A church IT manager who reviewed Web Help Desk on Capterra found that it was easy to use, affordable, had good features, and good support through the SolarWinds Thwack forums.
Another user on the Thwack forum implemented SolarWinds at a large church with 30 servers and 500 users at 10 different buildings. That user reported that setting up SolarWinds was easy and that the community support was of “great assistance.”
Price: Starts at $695.
- Users found the interface clean and easy to use
- Affordable price point
- Thwack forums are a good resource for resolving issues and requesting new features
- Support isn’t as responsive as some users would like
- Lacks deep customization of some other solutions on this list
- Lacks analytics
Church leaders love working with technology. But, with new software systems coming out every week, what church leaders should use for their inventory management? There are a lot of church inventory management software options available that make life easier for churches who want to do more than just manually tracking their inventories.