Free Software for Church Finances. If you are operating on a shoestring budget, it would seem reasonable to assume that most everything you need to know about the basics of free software for church finances is available right at your local library. But even if it is, finding out which particular set of data will be the best choice for tracking church finances (even if that is the main issue) may be an entirely different question.
Managing a church, its event, and people is a very complicated job. One wrong or omitted record can lead to completely wrong estimation or report generation. A church accounting software is a must for every church. Accounting software for churches needs to have the capacity to handle the data involved according to the size of the church. There are, of course, a variety of small church accounting software. The choice of the best church accounting software for you depends on a variety of factors. Let us help you make that choice.
What Is the Purpose of Church Accounting Software?
The most basic purpose of church accounting software is to manage payroll, track budgets, and keep a record of donations.
It is most certainly necessary for your church to have church accounting software if you keep track of donations on sticky notes, if you have stacks of fading receipts wrapped in rubber bands, and if you find yourself “guesstimate” your budget for the remainder of the year.
You may be a redneck if you think that the French Riviera is like a foreign car! Having said that, that was a lot of fun, but now let’s get back to what we were doing at the beginning.
We all know that there is no shortage of free accounting software that can be used by churches of all sizes, with some even specializing in non-profit organizations, but at the end of the day, any church financial software needs to cater to the specific accounting needs of churches.
For example, a church accounting software that is well-suited to its usage integrates membership data so that tax time is made easier during the accounting of donations, as well as using specific church terminology.
According to Jeff Campbell, the General Manager at PowerChurch Software, “Churches struggle to keep track of donor restrictions and to track those balances, since a college will tend to have an enormous donor restriction fund, while a church will likely have a whole lot of small donor restriction funds.”
There is, however, more to what we are looking for than just accounting software that is tailored to meet the needs of churches. That would be far too easy, I don’t think so. In addition, we need it to be free, since Millennials are the generation that will use it.
We have compiled a list of the best FREE and/or open source church accounting software that you can download right now. In this article, we will take a look at three free options for church accounting software that are highly rated.
1. Power Church: Best All-In-One Church Accounting Software for Small to Midsize Churches
One of the most established church accounting software programs on the market today, PowerChurch Plus was founded in 1984, making it one of the oldest programs of its kind. PowerChurch Plus is a software application that is designed for desktop-based churches. However, the company also offers a version that is available online: PowerChurch Online. With PowerChurch Online, you will have an actual installation of PowerChurch Plus on PowerChurch’s servers, unlike QuickBooks where the desktop and online versions of the software are very different from one another.
You can use PowerChurch as a complete church accounting software, membership management system, and recordkeeping system for your growing church. You are able to purchase additional add-ons if you require more functionality than that provided by the core program, such as the ability to handle check-ins or mass mailings, etc. You should keep in mind, however, that you will have to pay a higher price for your church accounting software – but if you were going to pay for these things anyway, you can streamline the process by getting them all from the same provider.
It does what it’s supposed to do, and it does it well. The user interface of PowerChurch isn’t anything fancy. It actually harkens back to the accounting software of 20 years ago, but it does what it’s supposed to do, and it does it well. PowerChurch does have a downside, however, because it is not a form-based system like QuickBooks; instead, it assumes that you have a basic understanding of double-entry accounting, including which accounts are typically increased by credits and debits — which can be challenging for someone with no prior accounting experience.
You can purchase PowerChurch Plus in either a download version or a physical disk version for a one-time cost of $395 or $415, depending on whether you would like to download the software. There is an additional charge of $159 for download upgrades or $179 for physical media upgrades. PowerChurch Plus only works on Windows PCs.
The cost of PowerChurch Online is $39.95 per month for two users, with an option to add an extra $25 per month for each additional two users. In case you decide to opt for annual billing instead of monthly billing, you will be able to save a marginal amount and will only have to pay $455 for the standard license for two users, or $275 for every additional user. With PowerChurch Online, you can use PowerChurch on any computer with an internet connection, and all upgrades are included in this price.
With GnuCash, you will be able to maintain a double-entry bookkeeping system that is free, open-source, and designed to provide features similar to those in Quicken.
The GnuCash platform has been around since 1998, which means that it has been developing and refining for almost two decades.
Despite the fact that GnuCash isn’t a specific solution for churches, it does offer a lot of features tailored specifically for small businesses.
Additionally, Jacob Oommen, who works for Finance and Accounting for Churches, has created a comprehensive, 14-part guide on how to use GnuCash for church accounting that you may find helpful.
During his time at St. Stephens Mar Thoma Syrian Church in Bangalore, Oommen stumbled upon GnuCash while tasked with the responsibility of taking care of the accounting for the church.
The first thing I discovered when I took over my duties was that the accounts in our church were being maintained using the old method of physical ledgers. The decision was made at the outset to migrate to a software system to maintain the accounts as soon as possible.”
To evaluate how GnuCash can be used to accomplish our objectives, I decided to do a prototype implementation of the bookkeeping system using (GnuCash), he said. I believe that if it works, we might be able to save quite a bit of money, not only for our church but also for other churches.
It is documented on Ommen’s blog, which is a comprehensive guide to everything from the basics to more advanced features like year-end reports. He provides detailed instructions for every step of the process.
The GnuCash guide was originally written by Oommen in 2013 when he implemented GnuCash at his church, but he updated it in February of 2017 to reflect a number of new features, including the auction feature and split transactions.
You can follow Oommen’s plan to download GnuCash and customize it for your church, all for the bargain price of $0 (minus your own work) if you have enough free time and computer expertise in your own church.
3. ChurchTrac 9
The ChurchTrac Online program has been rated by Capterra as one of the easiest and most cost-effective church management solutions on the market.
You will find it hard to find a church management package that is more affordable than ours starting at less than $10 per month.
However, it isn’t free, and this is where ChurchTrac 9 comes into play.
Despite the fact that ChurchTrac 9 was retired in 2012 due to compatibility issues after 10 years of service, the desktop-based version is still available for free download for churches with fewer than 100 names, although you may have to have a system with an older operating system to use it successfully.
According to ChurchTrac, the company will still provide basic technical support for ChurchTrac 9 until the end of the year. ChurchTrac 9 users can easily migrate to the fully supported ChurchTrac Online product in the meantime.
It is true that ChurchTrac 9 provides basic accounting features, but it also lacks some advanced features such as online giving, volunteer management, name archiving, family check-in, congregation access, and fund-based accounts.
Nevertheless, if the computer in your church is still running on a Pentium 4 chip and you have a small congregation, you may not need anything more than ChurchTrac 9.
In China for more than a decade, there have been efforts to develop ACTS, a free, open source church management system, that has been in development since then. The English version of the program, which is based on OpenOffice, was released in 2015.
For English speakers, some of the instructions in ACTS may be a bit difficult to understand since they are native to China. Nevertheless, there is some support available from the development team in the form of a comprehensive manual, a Facebook developer community, as well as email support.
There have been more than 13,000 downloads of the program as of February 2017, according to the developers’ report.
It has an impressive list of features including management of members’ data, facility management, donation management, and accounting features such as vouchers, profit and loss statements, and balance sheets, as well as unlimited account codes, all of which are provided for free.
It is available for download via SourceForge.
Flockbase is a popular software solution for small churches (also a great choice for medium-sized churches) that offers a user-friendly and affordable option for church accounting that is both user-friendly and affordable. As a part of it’s offerings, Flockbase Accounting provides effective and simple management of churches’ income and expenses, as well as bank reconciliations, payroll processing, and check writing, all geared towards making the running of the church easier. There are a variety of accounting reports available to the church so that they can make informed decisions about the finances of the organization. The Flockbase platform prides itself on its user-friendliness, as it does not require any specific training for its users to get to grips with its functionality.
The reason that this is such a popular church accounting software choice is that the key elements consider how best to work with how a church needs to be able to work internally as well as with the community at large.
- Simple to set up
- Good user manual
- Easy to use
- All accounting tools needed
- Interface that is out of date
- Problems with the support process
- There is no easy way to split up the reporting elements
As a church accounting and management software, ParishSOFT is designed to meet the needs of parishes and dioceses across the world. There is a great offer available that allows you to get free access to updates and support for the first year, with a church that is incurred on the basis of modules. Using it, a member can keep track of their schedules, their memberships, their religious education, etc. Additionally, it can also be used by church staff in order to connect with the dioceses on a regular basis. In the dioceses of Baltimore and Petersburg, this software is currently being used by the dioceses.
- Synchronization between parishes and dioceses
- Catholic church management software
- Tracking is impressive
- Support staff
- Not able to create or fill out forms
- Encryption technologies are lacking
- Isolated from platforms
- Only a few features
7. Aplos Software
It’s one of the best choices in church accounting software because it’s comparatively inexpensive. Despite this, it is intended for churches that are relatively small in size. The fact that data can be entered by non-accountants is a great solution for churches. It is not necessary to download any plugins since they are all web-based, so you do not need to do any installation.
- At just $25 a month, this is a very reasonable price
- For your convenience, it offers a free trial period of 15 days
- If a church is new, the first 6 months will be free of charge
- Online giving services are provided by this company
- It is not possible to edit church documents that have been scanned or based on images
- It does not have a lot of features to offer
- There is no password protection or encryption facility available
- A large amount of data cannot be handled by this program
8. Aplos: Best cloud-based church accounting software for churches of all sizes
Look no further than Aplos Church Software if you’re looking for a 100% cloud-based option for church accounting software that will grow with your church over the years. As your church grows, Aplos Church Software provides you with an all-in-one, cloud-based church management and accounting system that will keep up with your future needs.
The following are some of the advantages of using Aplos Church Software:
- The software was built by a CPA who is also a pastor.
- Manage restricted funds easily with true fund accounting.
- With the all-in-one platform, you can manage everything your church needs.
- Aplos offers an assisted bookkeeping service as well.
There is a very wide range of Aplos Church Software’s pricing, ranging from $24 per month for smaller churches to $199 per month for established congregations. This means that you will not overpay in your church’s infancy or outgrow the platform as your church matures. For larger churches, there is an option called Advanced Accounting that is available for $179 per month (and the contract has to be signed annually). Moreover, Aplos Church Software can also be of assistance to you in creating a customized church accounting software solution, known as their Thriving plan, which is a quote-based solution.
If you’re looking for church accounting software that includes payroll services, Aplos Church Software is not going to be of assistance to you. However, Aplos Church Software integrates with Gusto for seamless and stress-free payroll management, so you can use either software without having to worry about it.
When it comes to bookkeeping services, Aplos has you covered if you do not have someone on your church’s administrative staff who is familiar with accounting. With the help of their team of specialized nonprofit bookkeepers, they will handle all the heavy lifting on your account for you, starting at $300 per month without payroll or $400 per month for church accounting software with payroll and bill pay services included.
9. Realm: Church accounting software honorable mention
Based on the 4.5 out of 5 star rating that Realm has received on Capterra, it deserves an honorable mention on our list of the best church accounting software solutions. There has been a lot of praise from users about Realm, including its ease of use and amazing customer service – both of which are important features for a church accounting program.
There is not much that Realm cannot handle, such as giving, events, accounting, tax accounting, and anything else your church might need.
In terms of pricing, Realm does not provide that information on its website, but according to Capterra, the pricing starts at $29 per month. On the Realm website, it is easy to configure your plan according to your needs, in part based on your attendance on a weekly basis.
10. QuickBooks Premier: Best desktop church accounting software for small churches
It is common for us to recommend QuickBooks Online to small businesses, but we don’t recommend it to small churches. Depending on the size of your church, QuickBooks Premier Plus could be one of the best options for your small church accounting software needs, due to its nonprofit capabilities.
What are the reasons we recommend QuickBooks Premier – a desktop-based product – over the cloud-based QuickBooks Online? There are several reasons for this, but it is primarily because of the donor reporting capabilities. Although there are workarounds you can employ to make QuickBooks Online work for your church’s accounting needs, QuickBooks Premier Plus provides features that are specific to the industry, including donor reports and donation statements at the end of each year.
In contrast, if you choose to use a desktop product like QuickBooks Premier Plus, you will lose access to all your accounting records no matter where you are, unless you decide to pay a hosting service like Right Networks for the convenience of anytime, anywhere access. For most small churches, the functionality you gain with QuickBooks Premier Plus – and the time you’ll save at the end of the year – makes the inconvenience of switching to QuickBooks Premier Plus negligible in comparison.
In the case of QuickBooks Premier Plus, there is an annual subscription fee of $549.99, but nonprofit organizations can typically receive a discount if they purchase through TechSoup. There is QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll software available for $50 per month plus $2 per month for each employee if you are looking for church accounting software with payroll capabilities.
The choice of the best free software for church finances may be one of the more challenging tasks that you will have to deal with. In our search for the best free church accounting software, we tried to find programs that were easy to use, affordable, and full of features. These are our picks for the Best Free Software for Church Finances we have compiled for you.