Tag Archives: church

3 Essential Rules for Churches using Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Google + and other social media platforms are great ways for churches to communicate with members, organize events, and attract new visitors. Although social media is convenient and fun, it can also have a dark side. Following these rules can help keep social media safe and enjoyable for all.

1. Be smart about what you say

As the saying goes, common sense isn’t always common practice. The purpose of social media is to communicate with and inform your network, but make sure you do so tastefully and without revealing too much information. For instance, avoid advertising the location (or future location) of minors. It is safer to say something after the fact.

Instead of posting this: The annual youth group lock-in will be at the local YMCA on Saturday night from 9 pm to 8 am – see you there!

Post this: The youth group had a great time at the annual lock-in last weekend. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Also make sure you also have permission when posting prayer requests – some people may not want personal matters shared online. If you do get permission, keep in mind that some situations are extremely sensitive and every little detail does not necessarily need to be shared.

Instead of posting this: Please pray for Susan – she is driving out of state this weekend to care for her mother who is experiencing post operative complications after her rhinoplasty.

Post this: Please pray for Susan – she is traveling this weekend to visit her mother.

Speaking of permission – verify the material isn’t copyrighted when posting things that are not your own (e.g. professional directory photos, clip art, videos, articles). Share a link to a video instead of embedding it on the church’s website or share a link to an article instead of copying and pasting it in a blog post.

Only post content that is appropriate for all audiences. You probably already refrain from posting offensive content but also make sure your posts are relevant and meaningful to everyone visiting the site (i.e. referring to an inside joke can alienate those who don’t know the story behind the humor.)

2. Monitor social media accounts regularly

Assign church staff or volunteers to monitor posts and delete any inappropriate content. Giving more than one person access to the accounts is a smart idea; that way if your social media person goes on vacation or leaves the accounts will still be updated and accessible. As insurance, post a disclaimer (just do a Google search for ‘Social Media Disclaimer’ if you need some examples.) You can’t control what others say, but most social media platforms allow you to block repeat offenders who continue to post offensive items.

3. Learn how to change security settings

Remember that social media pages can serve as a first impression to people outside of the church. Although content such as pictures, videos, etc. should be private, make sure some of the information is public so others can learn about the church and its mission. To use Facebook as an example, the church could have a public Fan Page with posts for everyone to see and also have a private group for members to share pictures, videos, and prayer requests. Read our previous post about Facebook to get instructions for creating a closed or secret group and other useful tips.

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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.


Cloud Computing – Security Myths Explained for Churches.

Cloud computing church management (or cloud based church management) is really a no-brainer for churches. The biggest advantage for the smaller church is; it frees up the time for the minister or other staff that are stretched thin to minister to the community and their members. It allows them to further their mission without worrying about the back-end data. For the larger organization; it saves them the nightly backup headaches, money from hiring an IT staff, and time. At Icon Systems we often hear several reasons why a church won’t move their data to the cloud. One is because of the security of their data. The data security issue is often laughable. When a church compares its current security practices with the safeguards available in the cloud by IT professionals, state of the art data centers, and security consultants at a fraction of the cost, this discussion usually vaporizes.

Often one of the underlying issues is that someone does not want the data taken from the church’s property. This reason is ironic because every security expert would agree that your data should be kept in at least two places which would force the organization to take the data off the premise. Additionally, security experts agree that the data should be a considerable distance apart because of natural catastrophes – IE: 1,000 miles or greater because of floods, hurricanes, or tornadoes. One of the most efficient and effective ways to accomplish this is to send it to the cloud at another location. When you start factoring in the cost of doing this as one organization it simply does not pay, because the organization can not leverage economies of scale like a software company that serves thousands of clients. Economies of scale is also why churches can not hire proficient security consultants in the industry for the servers they have in their data center. Churches are hiring one person to take care of one organization instead of hiring one person to take care of thousands of organizations with the same hardware and software architecture.

Another aspect that is often over looked for on premise computing is the budgets for the infrastructure that houses the servers. The budgets for on premise computing is relentlessly being cut back and one of those repercussions is security. In fact one of the first things to be cut is the security. The opposite is true for companies that are in the business of offering cloud computing solutions. They invest their revenue into state of the art facilities so they can have better hardware, software, security measures, data centers, remote recovery procedures, etc. at their disposal and beat their competition. This is one of the reasons Icon Systems is one of the only software companies that offer 256 bit data encryption the entire time the user is logged in – a feature that other companies charge extra for. The data centers they use are seen as profit centers (how they make their money) and not overhead (loss money with no return) as in other organizations. Cloud computing companies see security as part of their bread and butter because without investing in it they would go bankrupt.

Can cloud computing be scary from the security stand point? – Yes it can be. Understanding where the fear comes from within the organization is job number one. Assessing that fear to see if it is a valid fear or a myth is the next step. If it truly exist then what steps are necessary to minimize the risk? Does the solution provider have the right protocols in place for it? Remember this important rule – cloud computing is just as safe if not safer than on premise computing.

Jay
Technical Sales – Data Conversions – Multisite Strategies
Icon Systems, Inc.

iPad Interview with Icon Systems

A few months ago ChurchAccountingSoftwareGuide.com posted an interview with Icon Systems addressing some common questions about church software compliance with fund accounting standards and regulations.

The Church Accounting Software Guide recently posted another interview with Icon Systems discussing benefits of mobile technology as well as how the use of tablets (such as the iPad) can improve church management and accounting. The interview also offers some great insight to some of the exciting new features of the IconCMO web app for the iPad – you can read the full article here.

How is your church currently using mobile technology? We would love to hear from you – please share your comments and stories below!


Hardware Update for IconCMO

As many of our clients know it has been a busy time for IconCMO in the recent weeks with the software enhancements like Excel exporting for reports, accounts receivables, calendar enhancements, payroll checks, email history and contribution statements.

Now it is time for a hardware update. A few months ago we placed a new database server into the hardware architecture as a secondary server to the primary database server to ensure it would work properly for our clients. The new hardware has shown great reliability and speed.  This week the new server will become the primary database server to the benefit of all of our IconCMO clientele. This change will help with an increase of certain operations on the system. For example saving records, pulling data for reports, etc should be faster and limited only by the user’s Internet speed.

When a church elects to use IconCMO over the typical desktop system these hardware improvements are costs that are covered in the price of IconCMO. The non-profit organization does not have to bear this hardware cost in their yearly budget for replacement or the maintenance. Rest assured that Icon Systems uses top quality servers  and replaces them frequently to provide our clients with the best possible church software experience available today with IconCMO!


Why the Church’s Financials should be Auditable?

Many churches try their best to do everything right and succeed every day in their mission(s). There is one area in the church that can be detrimental even if the best intentions were meant – the church’s books. Once a church loses the trust in the congregation and/or community their reputation as being a trustworthy organization is tarnished for a very long time. This is why using the proper accounting software, techniques, and having the right people are essential to ensure the church’s overall mission is not tarnished in anyway. Continue reading


Excel meets IconCMO church software

An update for IconCMO and its Reports!

The largest report related release to date for the IconCMO church software solution. The developers have given churches the ability to download reports in an Excel format from the IconCMO church management software (ChMS) solution. The enhancement greatly increases the flexibility of the IconCMO church software. Users can modify the standard reports and add various headings, data, etc. to the downloaded excel file to create their own customized reports. The majority of the reports in IconCMO were modified to offer this feature to our clients.  Additionally, we also changed the screens for reporting. The developers are laying the groundwork for future reporting styles to be added to our flagship church software product.

In addition to this great enhancement we have also included the normal export screens to go directly into Excel.  Now the system will directly send the data into Excel for the user – saving time in retrieving data for the end user!

Continue reading


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