You are a church, not an empire. You’re either in start-up status, growth status, or even multiplication status, and that means budget is constantly in the forefront of your mind. We’ve compiled the following excellent resources that are available to churches on a budget in areas like finances, service planning and projection, church management, design, and freelancers.
We’d like to say, “Thank You” to Jeff Kossack from Trilogy Community Church and Leadership Network for recommending the majority of the companies in this post.
First up are two awesome kingdom-building businesses.
Planning Center Online
In the past couple years, we have seen Planning Center Online’s products become more robust as they have added more and more excellent features. With 7 apps that are designed with the low-budget church in mind, PCO starts with their always-free People app, which helps you keep track of and reach out to contacts and members. But that’s not all.
With Planning Center, plan and schedule your worship service with Services, set up donations with Giving, and keep track of kids and parents with Check-ins. Other apps they offer are Groups, Registrations, and Resources, plus Services add-ons ‘Music Stand’ and ‘Projector’. Consider each app, and its features, to find out what your church needs now and might need later.
Pricing per month is based on which additional apps you’re going to use and the size of your church – i.e., number of donations for Giving and number of attendees for Registrations. Use their Pricing page to get an idea of what you’ll pay to start and to grow.
Centerline New Media
Video, motion graphics, and beautifully designed graphics go a very long way with sending a message and capturing the attention of viewers. But a church on a budget may not have the time or the funds to pay for a videographer or graphic designer to create a unique welcome slide or holiday service greeting.
Centerline New Media offers graphics-based downloads of still and animated slides and slide backgrounds, mini-movies, countdowns, and seasonal designs. They offer flexible payment options – pay for a subscription for unlimited downloads, or pay only for a single file or package download ($2, $6, $24, etc.). Some media types, such as sermon-slides, include an editable Photoshop file in the download.
The subscription service requires a one-year commitment upfront, but here’s a perk – after the first year, your annual cost lowers. If you purchase the $199 12-month Complete subscription, starting the following year you’ll pay $149/year.
If you’re sold on this list so far, the next few recommendations are going to make you even more excited and ready to call your team together to make some decisions.
Major tip: if you’re a registered nonprofit, it never hurts to ask a company if they offer nonprofit pricing. That isn’t always published online; call customer service and check. Where we’ve found nonprofit programs, we’ve included a link; any pricing we’ve listed below does not, however, factor in those discounts.
You’re already paying vendors, purchasing supplies, and dealing with taxes and banking. You might have just a couple people on payroll, but one day you’ll begin adding to your staff. Or, you’re already there and could use some help with all your accounting/financial practices.
Xero Accounting, designed for small businesses, offers plans that include bill payment, invoices, bank reconciliation, and financial reporting – easily and securely. Plus, add payroll for 5 to 100 employees for an additional monthly cost (in most states).
What’s more, Xero has 24/7 customer support and over 500 app integrations and they’ll allow you to try the program free for 30 days. If you’re interested, check out their current deals for the first 6 months. Even without the promotion, you could be paying as little as $9 per month with their Starter plan. Plus, check out their nonprofit page.
Graphic design takes time and a special set of skills. But almost anyone with even just a good sense of what looks nice and inviting can take on Canva to design digital or print materials: posters, banners, postcards, social media graphics, and more. And it’s free!
Unless you want to start from scratch, you’ll choose from their beautiful templates and customize with your branding and preferences – logo, colors, photos, fonts, etc. Use their huge catalog of free or $1 elements, like photos and illustrations, or upload your own files.
Canva also has a great free “design school” to help you get started. And if you want to find out how their paid Canva for Work plan will enhance your design plans, you can test it out for free for 30 days. Then, pay $9.95/month thereafter – or sign up for their nonprofit program.
Since we’re talking design: ooShirts will print your t-shirts, hoodies, and other church branding apparel for a very low cost. Their motto says it all: “ooShirts makes it easy and inexpensive to order custom shirts.” Shipping is free unless expedited.
Their inventory includes unisex, women’s, youth & toddler’s selections, and different garment brands, colors, and styles. Start with a quote of the various sizes and specific quantities you’ll need – or get designing with their online design tool. There, upload your designs and logos or use their stock fonts and clipart. You can even save it if you’re not ready to order.
Comprehensive email management, beautiful emails, digital privacy and non-spammy communication is essential this day and age. MailChimp offers all that and more – with amazing pricing.
First, it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers (and a whopping 12,000 emails per month). If you want unlimited emails or have over 2,000 subscribers, prices start at $10 and go up incrementally. Or, choose to “pay as you go.” Use their calculator to compare and find the most affordable option for your church. And check out their nonprofit discounts.
MailChimp emails are attractive and responsive. You can pay a little more for automation and other features, but even the base plan will give you analytics, forms, and integrations with other digital programs (including Planning Center and Xero). MailChimp is a top performer in the world of email management systems.
We are impressed that they support nonprofits both financially and instructively – they created this nonprofit guide to help you get started with your email strategy!
Fiverr® is a marketplace of talent. Do you need help with a project, like designing a logo, business cards, or signage? Need a temporary web programmer, copywriter, or videographer? With your limited budget do you still need to work with someone who has the right experience and skill level?
You’ll be able to search for a freelancer using filters that include price range and delivery time. “Sellers” (freelancers) are rated by former “buyers” (you). You’ll have the option – or the seller requirement – to contact them first before hire. The site is secure and protections are in place for both sellers and buyers. All payment transactions go through Fiverr®, ensuring you’ll get your product and the seller will be paid.
Do you have any awesome, budget-friendly church resources that you’d recommend? We’d love to hear about them. Just add a comment to this post!