Tag Archives: donation

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 Software for Districts and its Churches.

The evaluation of district software for churches should take into account the various tasks performed at each level of the organization (e.g. Church, District, Regional, National, World Offices).

Capabilities of District Software:

  1. The ability to move a church from one regional office to another.
  2. Communication capabilities both within a single entity as well as between each entity throughout the organization.
  3. Communication is based on roles within the organization – e.g. regional secretaries versus church secretaries.
  4. Adding church plants or multisite campuses.

Using one software system throughout the organization helps simplify day-to-day operations

If the software is capable of handling data for individual churches as well as multi-site organizations, users do not have to learn more than one system and data entry is more consistent. The use of a single system throughout the district also allows each church to uniquely structure its own chart of accounts, contribution funds, etc. while allowing the district office to combine the data from each church into one consolidated report.

For example, a district office could collect the membership data from each individual church and consolidate it into one report to analyze the organization as a whole. An individual church would also be able to track several youth or memorial funds that would show as one youth or memorial fund total on the district office reports. The ability to customize separate structures for both levels is crucial.

Why is all this important?

First, the software needs to tackle head-on the various issues each entity is facing at their respective levels. Having one system reduces errors in reporting, ensures a high level of data integrity, increases speed in data gathering, and prevents the users from having to learn and manage five different systems.

We will use an orchestra to illustrate this concept: if each musician was playing a different musical composition would you expect a well-tuned concert? Certainly not – all the musicians have to be on the same page of the same song. The same is true when it comes to the technology used in churches and throughout the entire organization – shouldn’t the same software be used so your ministry can operate in-sync like an orchestra?

Second, providing data to the district office gives an early indication if certain churches will need help financially or within their ministry staff. It can help to determine which entities are flourishing with donations or declining. Is attendance increasing at one location but not the other? All of these and many more questions are answered objectively with the right software in place.

Third, with a one-system approach, confidentiality across the platform is essential so one church cannot view another church’s records. The system must also allow churches to opt out of sending data to the district office. Most district software packages fail in one or more of these areas: membership, financials, data gathering and confidentiality. But you can rest assured because there is an answer for district offices → IconCMO+ software!


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.


Mobile Technology for the Church – How will this Help the Church?

Mobile Technology – How Will It Help The Church?

Is mobile technology a passing fad or here to stay? Will only tech-savvy people embrace the advancements, or will it be common to see Grandma using her iPhone to keep in touch with the grandchildren? A recent blog post by MicrosoftTag supports the idea that mobile devices will become commonplace. The post also reported that mobile devices are expected to account for more Internet usage than desktop computers by the year 2014. How are users spending their time? Currently, the most popular uses are: games, weather, maps/search, and social networking. People enjoy using their mobile devices and are looking for new ways to exploit them other than playing Angry Birds.  New technology brings more opportunities that churches should use to help grow their faith. One of these new technologies that churches are starting to use is mobile tags.

What are mobile tags and how are churches benefiting from them?

Mobile tag for Church Software

Try it out - Visit Our Website

Mobile tags are two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned using the camera from any bar-code or mobile tag enabled device. Mobile tags are able to store more information than traditional barcodes and typically act as a gateway to a website. In addition, these mobile tags point to any information that you want and can be changed over time.

Mobile concepts already used by churches:

  1. A fund raising event where churches and local merchants partner together on a specific day and the local merchant gives back a percentage of the proceeds.
  2. Have contact information encoded within the tag for the church staff so people can scan it, upload the contact information, and not touch one key on their phone.
  3. Have a tag point to this week’s sermon so users can view on their mobile device quickly for reference.
  4. Giving and voting on important issues via mobile tagging.

Why is this important to churches?

Since technology moves at record breaking speeds, your ChMS needs to move just as fast. The church should embrace mobile technology and utilize the resource to raise community awareness, increase donations, and bring ease of use to members and staff while keeping everyone as mobile as possible. Engaging members through instant communication is essential for churches; people are busier than ever before and staying productive while on the go is a must. Icon Systems, Inc. is dedicated to connecting churches with the latest technology – watch for a new mobile IconCMO product in the near future!

Using mobile technologies (such as the new mobile product for IconCMO church software) will help make the most of your time as well as the church’s. Icon Systems, Inc. will be on the forefront of this technology – bringing it to churches to ensure they can reach members, communicate vision, allow members to interact with each other, coordinate the church staff easily, and much more!

Thanks,

The Development Team!


How to Choose a Church Management Software (ChMS) Solution!

How to choose a church management software solution:

  1. Know your requirements and search for a package that meets these expectations.  A bloated system can hinder rather than help. No software can provide everything so find one that meets your needs.
  2. Try before you buy if possible. While this may delay the decision process it will certainly ensure you get what you need. 
  3. Call the support department and have high expectations.  There are many church software companies on the market today that have fantastic support for their products.  Getting a resolution within minutes rather than days should be a requirement.

Each church is unique, but there are four fundamental benefits software should provide:

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Interview with Icon Systems at the Church Accounting Software Guide

Several of us at Icon Systems recently had the chance to be interviewed by the fine folks over at ChurchAccountingSoftwareGuide.com. We think you’ll find it well worth a read! As they wrote:

Why this Interview is a Must Read for Anyone Dealing with Church Management and Accounting

It answers (from a licensed Certified Public Accountant) some of the most common questions I get about church accounting:

  • Are there any special accounting standards our church needs to be following?
  • Can my church lose its tax-exempt status?
  • Are my current accounting reports in compliance with non-profit regulations and standards?
  • Is there a church accounting software program that can help me be in compliance with non-profit standards?
  • My church is small, do I need to worry about the accounting standards?

We also cover the general administrative challenges that churches face, some of the best accounting-related features in IconCMO, and have a detailed overview from our CPA about the federal fund accounting guidelines for churches and other non-profits.


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