Category Archives: Donations

Church Donation Software – Audit List

It is that time of year when many non-profits like churches provide contribution statements to their donors. It is also a good time to assess if the current solution is able to give these statements easily, quickly and has majority of the features that are still important to the church. Over time, software becomes outdated or the organization’s needs change. What features would the church like to have that they currently don’t?

Having the ability to email statement to save money in these hard economic times and use it for more worth wild missions is an important consideration. For example, a church with 150 active donors that send quarterly statements would spend $264.00 annually in postage. This total does not include envelopes, labor, and labels associated with mailing the statements. Does the church software provide a return on investment and pay for itself each year it is used?

Having different options during the preparation of statements is an important consideration. Below are some items to audit, but feel free to create your own list and then audit the current solution and compare it to others.

For example, does the software have the ability to:

  •     Create different statements for the givers and non-givers?
  •     Follow the government regulations?
  •     Print statements based on status codes of the members?
  •     Print the pledge amounts?
  •     Print tax-deductible, taxable and IRA funds separately?
  •     Print check numbers on the statements?
  •     Print comments for Gift in Kind contributions without a monetary value assigned?
  •     Provide different formats for the contributions statements?
  •     Format statements for windowed envelopes?
  •     Print labels to match the statements?
  •     Include a church logo?
  •     Include a custom thank you letter at the bottom?
  •     Email statements to specific email addresses for each member?
  •     Produce statements quickly (eg: under 30 seconds for a mega church)?

Creating an audit list that the church can use to audit their current solution and compare it should be the first objective when reviewing church donation software. Additionally, churches need a software package that includes more than tracking church donations, which means a similar audit list should be made for membership and the accounting areas of ministry.

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You asked, we listened!

We made a couple of changes to the contribution entry window:

Speed Contributions Entry:

The contribution entry screen has been slightly rearranged and modified to allow for fast keyboard access. The “currency type” option was moved up, and you can now use the “Enter” key to move between fields on the entry screen.

Allow EFT and Non-Cash Gifts in Contributions:

To enable churches to more accurately record contributions, we’ve added the ability to choose “EFT” and “Non-Cash” as currency types on the contributions entry screen. Posting journals and other contribution reports were modified accordingly. Non-Cash allows you to record gifts in kind with a zero amount as per IRS guidelines. Additional reports were added to give the church a record of all non-cash donations by date range.

Also in response to the many requests we received:

Icon Systems is happy to present the 2011 Year End Processing Tutorial Video. We are planning to create more tutorial videos down the road, so any comments or suggestions you have are most welcome! As always, the Year End Processing Guide is also available under your Getting Started menu in IconCMO or you can click here for a copy.


Here is a Quick Tip that is Helping Churches Increase Contributions

It is common knowledge in the business world that customer retention is much more cost-effective than trying to acquire new customers. The same is true for churches and other nonprofit organizations. Although it is important to attract new members so the church can grow, it is equally (if not more) important to keep the members you already have.

We are coming up on the end of year, which means it is time for churches to send out contribution statements and start focusing on the year ahead. Here is a simple yet effective way to encourage people to donate again next year:

Include a sincere thank you letter with contribution statements.

Recognition and appreciation help motivate people to contribute again. In addition to giving them credit for helping the church accomplish its mission, explain how the gift was used so they can see how they fit into the overall picture. Skipping an evening out and donating the money seems like much less of a sacrifice when they know the donation will help feed hungry children at the local shelter. Also, make sure to share the church’s vision and goals for the upcoming year.

If there are people who didn’t fulfill this year’s pledges or just haven’t donated for a while, check in to see if they are okay and ask when they are coming back. They may be having personal problems (e.g. financial hardship, health concerns, loss of a loved one.) Reaching out lets people know you truly value their relationship with the church and can be a source of comfort during difficult times (i.e. just knowing someone cares and noticed they were gone creates a warm fuzzy feeling.) Sometimes people stop donating because they don’t feel it is making a difference. Let them know how their past donations helped and tell them they are missed – they might just come back.

Want to know the best part?

This is probably one of the cheapest, easiest marketing initiatives ever. The church is already sending out contribution statements, so there is no extra cost* and you already have the readers’ attention. Make the most of it and take a few minutes to draft a genuine thank you letter – it could make a huge difference.

*Save money on postage by sending contribution statements via email. For more information or to register for a free trial, please visit www.iconcmo.com.


Church Donation Software 4 Key Elements.

When churches are looking for church donation software, they should make a list of the specific functionality they want immediately. Additionally, what needs exist in the next 5-10 years for the church donation software? Smaller organizations and church plants may not be ready for online donations however; the availability of this option later is crucial.

Entry of Data – Technology has helped contribution entry in various ways to get data into church donation software. Church donation software should include manual data entry, data file upload, and the ability to update donors records for online and EFT donations seamlessly. Additionally, mistakes happen and contribution corrections should be easy to make. The process should allow you to modify the giving date, fund assignment, check/cash tracking, comments, amount, or remove the transaction completely. Integration into the church accounting module from contributions removes additional key entry mistakes and time for double entering during posting.

Pledging – Pledge tracking by fund(s) is an important way for the church to know how much can they expect to come into the organization. Pledging can tell churches when people are falling behind throughout the year. It can also advise overall how much donations are ahead or short of the total pledge for the year. Pledging on multiple year funds with various donor commitment date ranges is essential.

IRS Statements – Entering data is useless if the system cannot provide an IRS statement for donors. Churches should be able to print or email statements, with the later saving on postage. Other options on statements include the pledge amount, church logo, different formatting styles, a personal message and comments. Criteria for producing the statement can vary such as: status codes, date range, sort options, funds to include, people that have given, non givers, people that have pledged but have not given, etc.

Tax Type Categories – Tax Exempt, Taxable or IRA, should categorize all the funds to allow removal of certain fund during IRS statement preparation. The organization should be able to add or change the fund names at any time but still maintain the category. A taxable fund example is money collected for coffee or donuts on a Sunday. A tax-exempt fund is money given with no return of good or services and donors expect a donation statement. Additionally, the IRA contribution is when someone donates his or her IRA proceeds to the organization.

Church donation software is an important aspect to any church and should have the most streamlined processes in place. It should also include some of the basic concepts above for starters and additional features like a link to an acceptable fund accounting package. Additional features include transferring monies from one envelope to another, ability to change envelope numbers, print deposit slips, and create reoccurring batches. Icon Systems’ IconCMO can help churches with this process and we look forward to hearing any comments you may have on this topic.


Postal Service May Eliminate Non-Profit Discount.

The Postal Service (USPS) with the help from Rep. Darrell Issa is trying to eliminate the 40% discount for mailing that non-profits enjoy. HR2309 is the law that Congress is trying to pass which would eliminate almost all but 10% of the non-profit discount within 6 years. At Icon Systems, we forecasted this years ago when the postal service was recording annual losses and trying everything to increase revenue to cover their expenses. This bill will increase the burden on churches and other Postal Service patrons. Many church software companies were trying to get their church software PAVE/CASS certified, but these can only reduce postal costs when a discount is available. In some cases, these certifications may increase costs. With the use of electronic communication, churches can reduce or even eliminate these costs.  Providing newsletters, contribution statements (IRS statements), and other communications through electronic means within IconCMO or our partners is an easy way to save precious donations for other critical items in your church.

While we feel the elimination of the discount will not help the USPS solve their financial issues, it will strengthen each church’s resolve to use electronic communication more effectively.  Non-profits will turn to newer technology and limit their use of the USPS. Icon System’s IconCMO church software is available to help churches use these technologies: cutting costs and ensuring that the church saves time, money and resources each year.


Finding the Right Church Software

Finding the Right Church Software?

Creating quality software can be a very difficult process.  Especially since everyone’s opinion on what makes quality software will vary.   Quality software can be categorized in a variety of ways such as:  Easy to use, flexible, to feature rich applications.  What are the advantages of each?  How do these categories affect a multi-site system?

Continue reading


Recent Study – Churches Offering Online Donations.

According to a recent study conducted by Lifeway and 1003 protestant churches 55% of churches offer online giving with attendance of 500 or more.  Two-thirds of churches with online giving offered it for 2 years or less. It also found churches in larger cities used it more often. To check out all the statistics please review the study. With this growing trend it is essential to have church software that can handle seamless integration.


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