CRM – Choosing Right CRM Technology For Your Church

As stated in previous posts on Conversatio Morum, we are dedicated to retooling the church by making the tie from Theology to Culture through the use of Technology. With that being said, we’re currently in the middle of talking about retooling Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems as Church Relationship Management systems. We’ve previously intro’d and talked about the purpose of doing so here and here.

Today, we want to zero in a bit on different CRM’s and choosing the right CRM technology for your church or organization. We’ll talk more next week about your church’s culture and developing a culture of follow-up and discipleship. As always, you can’t fix a people problem with a technology solution. But we’re going to work through this backwards in this instance, talk about technology first and church culture secondly. The goal there is to get you excited, and then prep you for the push back in selling your CRM idea to Senior Leadership, Staff, Volunteers, and the body as a whole.

There are several out there after looking, some are even geared towards church specifically. I think what I see, mainly, are three options. “Free”, “True CRM”, and “Full Church Community Tool”. So we’ll talk about them from those levels.

Free

Part of the issue depends on your budget. If you are in charge of your own domain, have some control over rolling up new “sub-domains” etc, and budget is an issue then you can roll out some version of a free online CRM. I say “free” with quotation marks, because even those aren’t REALLY free. They do take time to build out and time is, contrary to popular belief, your MOST valuable resource. I was actually talking to a client yesterday about utilizing something like this. They had spoken with a company who offered a product that was more expensive than what they were looking for (i.e. free). I explained to them that it was possible but that there are sometimes significant time costs with this route. However, sometimes you simply don’t have the budget and need to utilize something that is truly Open-Source. There are even some really great one’s out there. A few are listed below:
Sugar CRM
Sugar CRM Forum Discussion for Church’s
Civic CRM
VTiger

True CRM

In terms of True CRM’s, these are CRM’s that aren’t necessarily for building community, but are specifically for church staff to use in following up with visitors and helping with member involvement. These are CRM’s that you can have a company build out for you. They will cost you a little, but save you a lot in terms of time, and in general they are really good solutions especially when built out by people who do those things for church’s all the time. A few are listed below:
Simple Church CRM
Proclaim CRM
Ignite CRM
churchm.ag features Ignite

Full Church Community Tool

These are excellent in that they can help increase church community involvement altogether. They aren’t simply for staff, they are for your church and can give you things that are beyond the ability of a normal CRM system. Things such as online forums, discussion rooms, prayer request walls, etc. They are built specifically with the church in mind. So are some of the true CRM’s listed above, but these are designed for the whole church. They can be a bit more expensive, but I’ve also seen them work wonders in terms of body life. A few are listed below:
The City
Church Community Builder

Finally, there is one last tool that I’d like to share. This doesn’t really fall under any of the categories listed above, and isn’t really a CRM. Although, it’s too good of a resource for me to NOT share. It’s developed by lifechurch.tv (In case you don’t know who these guys are, you should check them out. They give away a lot of resources for free online at a significant cost to them because they love the entire “Big C” Church.) Not truly a CRM, but a great way of tracking some helpful metrics for your church.
Church Metrics

Ok, well those are the resources I have at this point. What about you? Does your church utilize any of these? Are there any good stories from that? Any horror stories? Have they helped or hurt? Are there any REALLY great one’s that I’ve missed?

  • SharePoint or SugarCRM is what I am leaning towards for my recommendations. Using something like Barracuda to remote wipe any BYODs that have been lost or stolen containing church-related information if necessary. Both SharePoint and SugarCRM has a large group of talent and knowledgeable users out there minimizing efforts seeking advice or help. Both have many plug-ins. Both have free versions. Training staff, volunteers, and admins wouldn’t be too difficult and learning either product easily ports over to business skill sets. Internal staff supporting either product can also put these skills on their resumes to help build new skills for people looking for career moves or young workers looking for new opportunities. Both products can meet two completely opposite groups, one for total open source and one tied-in with Microsoft or even a mixture of the two. Both will use a free version of either MySQL or MS SQL as well.

    • I use SharePoint consistently at the moment, but only for document management. That seems to be it’s core function, while I know it can be used beyond that for other purposes. I’m thinking Sugar might make more sense because it started with the intention of being a CRM rather than a DMS. Have you decided which route you’ll take yet?