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Best accounting software for churches

Susan Honea

Susan Honea – 8 years experience helping businesses with bookkeeping, tax preparation and auditing

Last updated: May 20, 2020

We take a look at the best accounting software for churches, including paid and free options made specifically with churches in mind. 

Best accounting software for churches

All businesses have income and expenses, bank accounts, and other general accounting needs, but like most nonprofit entities, churches have unique accounting and bookkeeping needs. Churches need to maintain transparency for their leadership and membership, and there are nonprofit compliance rules, including FASB, that frequently must be followed.

Choosing the right accounting software can help you with these important tasks and more. Let’s get started.

What do you need?

As a church accountant, bookkeeper, or finance manager, it’s important to choose an accounting software product that allows you to manage your accounting functions easily and also provides you with other nice-to-have features that will make your job easier. While there are lots of nice-to-have features, we’ve reviewed these software packages based on three important factors:

  • Is it easy to use?
  • Does it have fund accounting capability?
  • Does it have a donation workflow?

Many of the software options we have chosen to review for their accounting capability also include tools to help you manage membership (church directory, volunteers, groups, check-ins for security, and so on), communications and interactions with members, events, and more. Some include website builders and hosting options. Therefore, we have added a fourth category:

  • What else can it do for you?

Is it easy to use?

Whether you’re a staff member or a volunteer, ease of use is key. You don’t want to spend hours upon hours setting up and using your accounting software. You have other ministry work to do. Key elements of ease of use include access to good customer support and a clean, intuitive interface. In addition, you need to be able to access the software from a location that’s appropriate for your church (cloud vs. desktop vs. hybrid installation), and, in the case of larger and multi-entity or multi-location churches, you need to have multiple users.

Does it have fund accounting capability?

Fund accounting capability is important to churches because many funds—including some tithes and offerings—are restricted. You must be able to account for those restricted funds and budget for their spending accordingly. If the accounting software doesn’t offer true fund accounting, that doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t make our list, but it may make it more challenging to set up and manage over time.

How much functionality do you need?

Finally, the vast majority of church income is donation based (tithes and offerings and other contributions). Because of that important element, an integrated suite of software modules (including membership management features) may be important to you, especially if you’re a larger church—or any size church with a larger budget. Many of these integrated suites automatically move donations into the accounting module and classify them for you, saving tons of time on manual data entry.

Take a moment to consider the size of your church and whether you need membership management and other features along with the accounting capability. Read on to find out the important features of ten popular church accounting software options.

Here’s our list of the best accounting software for churches:

1.  Aplos Church Accounting. Best overall accounting software for churches. Aplos ticks all the boxes for all-in-one church management and accounting software although the fund accounting module can stand alone. It’s not the cheapest (or most expensive) option, but we do think it’s the best for small to mid-sized churches, especially those expecting to grow and needing scalability.

2. Blackbaud Church Management. Best accounting software for large churches. Combining Financial Edge NXT double-entry fund accounting with robust church management features, Blackbaud is an ideal accounting software option for larger churches with deeper pockets needing to track a lot of members and income. It’s powerful but flexible and easy to use.

3. Church360 Ledger. Best accounting software for a church with a school or daycare. Churches needing fund accounting software alone can look to Church360 Ledger, but the Church360 Suite includes membership management as well as accounting functionality. Donations can be pushed from Members to Ledger easily, and this ease of use is seen across all accounting tasks, and managing the books for a school or daycare under the church umbrella is super-simple.

4. IconCMO. Best accounting software for a single-location church. IconCMO is also an all-in-one church management and accounting software system, but it’s most appropriate for a single church. Integrating people and donation management with double-entry fund accounting, IconCMO can be as basic or robust (adding check-in and events management for extra cost) as you need.

5. ParishSOFT. Best accounting software for a Catholic parish or diocese. ParishSOFT is the ideal church management software for Catholic parishes. From fund accounting, to a directory that includes details about sacraments, to event scheduling, to education tracking and management, this software addresses the needs of a Catholic parish comprehensively. The “Offerings and Pledges” feature is designed specifically for the Roman Catholic Church.

6. Shelby Total Ministry. Best accounting software for a denominational headquarters location. Shelby Total Ministry can serve the needs of not only a church or ministry, but also a denominational headquarters, as well. It’s a scalable option with modules that integrate seamlessly to serve churches of varying sizes.

7. Elexio. Best all-in-one accounting software for growing churches. Elexio is another scalable option, providing membership management and accounting functions at a price making it accessible to small or new churches. Elexio can grow with you, allowing you to add on modules and apps as needed.

8. CCIS Church Management. Best stand-alone accounting software for churches. For those who prefer to stay out of the cloud, for whatever reason, CCIS Church Management Software provides a desktop option, although a cloud-based membership module is available. The accounting, payroll, and membership modules can be used together or as standalone products.

9. CDM+. Most cost effective accounting software for churches. CDM+ provides users with platform choices for its all-in-one church management software: desktop, cloud-based, or hybrid software are all options available from CDM+. Although the cloud-based version requires a monthly subscription, the desktop version can be had for a low one-time fee.

10. ACTS. Best accounting software for an international church plant. ACTS is a free, open source software option for churches that includes accounting features plus membership, activity, venue/facilities, and donation management, plus attendance tracking, check-in, and some online services functionality. It also provides a multilingual (English and Chinese) interface.

Best Accounting Software for Churches

1. Aplos Church Accounting

Website www.aplos.com
Price from $59/mo

Best overall accounting software for churches.

Aplos is a cloud-based, all-in-one integrated suite of modules that churches of all sizes will like. Not only is it affordable for even the smallest churches, it’s scalable and grows with you. As with most accounting products, all the basic features are included, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, budgeting, and bank integration. If you also need payroll service, Gusto integrates seamlessly, so the fact that Aplos itself doesn’t have a payroll module isn’t a big deal. The Gusto payroll integration will even help you manage housing allowances.

Ease of use
Aplos Church Management is very easy to use, whether you are a church staff member or a volunteer. Aplos provides excellent customer support and training videos. Plus, should you want to outsource your bookkeeping tasks, Aplos can do it for you. The dashboard view makes it easy to see key data elements quickly, and navigation is quite intuitive. Since it’s cloud-based, users can access it from anywhere that has an internet connection. Aplos allows churches to include multiple users, as well, but user-level permissions are lacking in the basic accounting module.

Fund accounting capability
Aplos Church Management was originally designed by a pastor who also worked as a CPA. As such, it offers not just double-entry accounting, but also true fund accounting, which is an important aspect of church accounting. Tithes and donations are tracked automatically, saving you tons of time on manual data entry processes.

An Advanced Accounting module will get you some extra functionality that’s likely to be important for larger or multi-site churches. With the Advanced module, budgets can be set up by fund, allowing you to manage restricted and unrestricted funds easily. Tags (such as project, campaign, or department) can also be created if you need to get a little more granular in your budgeting and reporting.

A nice bonus is that Aplos Church Management’s accounting module can be used on its own for fund accounting, so users that don’t need the additional functionality aren’t locked in to a full suite of products.

Donation workflow
Aplos Church Management includes an Online Giving & Tithing module that automates many donation processes. Members can set up recurring transactions and will receive immediate giving receipts. Church finance staff or volunteers can push periodic statements (monthly, quarterly, or annually) and email communications through the Online Giving & Tithing. In addition, church staff can manage giving for multiple sites easily, and all the information is automatically integrated into the fund accounting module—no manual data entry.

What else can it do for you?
Although Aplos provides the option to use the accounting module on its own, adding the other features makes Aplos an all-in-one church management solution. With the Church Management module, you can keep a detailed directory of church families; track attendance, donors, groups, and events; and automate check-ins for security. Other modules include marketing and communication, event management, and reports. Aplos also provides a website builder, with web hosting fees included.

Aplos Church Management is available on a subscription model, like most cloud-based software. The basic suite is available for a modest monthly fee—and Aplos frequently offers discounts. If you need the Advanced Accounting Module, you’ll want to reach out to Aplos to discuss its customized pricing model. Aplos does offer a free trial period, which should allow you enough time to determine if it’s right for you before purchasing a subscription.

Things we liked:

  • Integrated, comprehensive customer support
  • Strong fund accounting functionality
  • Designed for the unique needs of churches and nonprofits
  • Excellent donation to accounting integration
  • All-in-one platform

Things we didn’t like:

  • Reports could be more robust
  • Customization options are limited
  • Some features require Advanced Accounting module

2. Blackbaud Church Management

Best accounting software for large churches.

Blackbaud Church Management is a relatively new all-in-one solution to the market. Blackbaud’s recent acquisition of Seraphim sparked the development of an improved church management solution while keeping the best features from Seraphim’s legacy product, ChurchApp. Large churches will appreciate the functionality of Blackbaud’s strong fund accounting product (Financial Edge NXT) and enjoy a variety of other features that help engage church members more effectively.

Ease of use
Blackbaud is well known for its ease of use in the nonprofit sector, and Blackbaud Church Management is no different. Good customer support and a wide variety of self-support tools, including a knowledge base and a comprehensive video library, help new users get comfortable with the platform very quickly. The modern, streamlined interface is intuitive, and subscribers are entitled to multiple user logins with user-level permissions.

Fund accounting capability
Financial Edge NXT, the accounting module of Blackbaud Church Management is a full-fledged double-entry fund accounting solution. It includes all the functionality that a large church would need, including accounts payable and receivable, budgeting, fixed asset management, approval controls, reporting, and FASB compliance.

There is also built-in financial aid and tuition support for churches that operate schools or daycares under the church umbrella, and multi-entity support is available for ancillary services being operated under the church’s EIN, such as counseling centers, consignment sales, and vacation Bible schools. Independent budgets can be created and managed for each of these operational groups; information then rolls up to the top-level budget, allowing senior staff and finance committee members full transparency into the church’s financial health.

Donation workflow
Blackbaud Church Management facilitates tithe, offering, and gift tracking. The online giving app allows members to make donations, and that information flows directly into Financial Edge NXT, automating the income process. Members can even set up one-time and recurring donations for gift and pledge campaigns that church staff manage in Blackbaud Church Management.

What else can it do for you?
Blackbaud’s church management feature includes a church directory with profiles for members, allowing you to track your congregation, their engagement, and their activities within the church. The analytics feature helps you assess member engagement and giving easily from the dashboard. You can communicate easily with congregants via the easy “drag and drop” email setup.

In addition, you can track volunteers and groups through Blackbaud. Event management can be set up for one event or recurring events, and registration for events can be completed and paid for online. Child check-in with codes is an especially popular feature of this software.

Blackbaud doesn’t publish pricing for its Church Management platform, so if you’re interested in learning more about what it would cost, you’ll need to contact Blackbaud directly. There currently is not a free trial, either, so once you’ve made your purchase, you’re locked in. However, given the comprehensiveness of Blackbaud’s solution, the price is likely worth it.

Things we liked:

  • Flexible and customizable
  • Powerful all-in-one platform
  • Excellent customer support and training

Things we didn’t like:

  • Expensive
  • Relatively new to market
  • Limited integrations outside of Blackbaud ecosystem

3. Church360

Free Trial 37 Days

Best accounting software for a church with a school or daycare.

Church360, by Concordia Technology Solutions, offers a range of options from the all-in-one Church360 Suite—bundling Church360 Members (membership management), Church360 Ledger (accounting software), and Church360 Unite (website)—to standalone implementation of any of those products.

Ease of use
Originally designed for church accountants, Church360 Ledger meets the specific needs of church bookkeepers and finance managers, no matter their accounting experience. Though it can take a little getting used to, the interface, overall, is fairly straightforward and well-organized. Form-based data entry means that users don’t have to understand double-entry accounting to achieve it. Users can set up unlimited recurring transactions, too, which isn’t always the case in other software packages. The platform is fully cloud-based, so there’s nothing to install, and user-level permissions help churches limit access to specific areas as required.

Church360 Members makes it easy to develop profiles for visitors and convert those to member profiles as needed; setup, track, and manage groups; and track and record attendance and offerings. Tags make searching and compiling membership information easy. The integration of programs provides an easy way to share information across modules.

Fund accounting capability
Church360 Ledger includes true fund accounting functionality. Churches that operate schools or daycares will appreciate the strong multi-entity support within Church360 Ledger. With a customizable chart of accounts and a comprehensive budgeting feature that can be built from scratch, created based on prior year actuals, or imported from Excel, managing restricted and unrestricted funds is a snap. Each budget—no matter how many—can have its own customized chart of accounts and fiscal year. Church360 Ledger integrates with Paychex to facilitate payroll processing, and all the basic reports give you the information you need to keep your finance committee up to date.

Donation workflow
Users who bundle Church360 Ledger with Church360 Members will enjoy a batch processing function that moves donation information from Members to Ledger quickly, eliminating the need to input that information manually. While this process is simple and not fully automated, it is enough for most small to medium sized churches.

What else can it do for you?
An interesting feature in Church360 Suite is the ability to apply tags related to various volunteer activities, clubs, personal interests, hobbies, and contact preferences. Other membership features include event management (one-time or recurring), a calendar that automatically syncs with the website, evites allowing RSVPs, attendance tracking for a variety of activities, and tithe and offering tracking.

Church360 Unite is website builder software with a WYSIWYG editor (and can standalone, like Members and Ledger). The member directory can be accessed securely (invitees only) online. Event information can be set to sync automatically with the website calendar (or multiple calendars). The website feature allows for online collaboration, including discussions, among groups.

For churches not interested in cloud-based software, Shepherd’s Staff is a PC-based option, meaning it is installed locally. Shepherd’s Staff includes membership management, attendance tracking, contributions tracking with “IRS-compliant giving statements,” accounting (including fund accounting), check printing, and a scheduler.

Other software available includes MemberCaller and eGiving. MemberCaller provides voice messaging online, and eGiving facilitates online giving, as the name suggests. Both cost extra.

With three pricing plans available, Church360 Ledger is a cost-effective accounting solution for any size church. The initial startup fee may be a little off-putting to some, but it does entitle new subscribers to an initial onboarding and setup consultation that makes the transition to Church360 Ledger much easier.

Things we liked:

  • Affordable
  • Simple, form-based navigation
  • Unlimited recurring transactions

Things we didn’t like:

  • No native payroll module
  • Limited reports module
  • Limited automation features

4. IconCMO

Website www.iconcmo.com
Price from $35/mo
Free Trial 30 Days

Best accounting software for a single-location church.

Designed specifically for a single-location church, IconCMO is a cost-effective all-in-one solution that includes modules for fund accounting, people management, and donation management Additional modules for check-in management and events management are reasonably priced and provide a comprehensive church management platform, no matter the congregation size. There’s also a payroll module that can be added if you need it.

Ease of use
As a cloud-based product, IconCMO is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. IconCMO is super easy to set up and use, and customer support staff are well-trained and very responsive to customer needs. There are also helpful video tutorials for users who prefer to figure things out on their own. Users may find the frequent updates a bit frustrating, but typically the interface doesn’t change all that much, and the learning curve is short. However, if the initial setup isn’t done correctly, it can be challenging to fix later on. Similarly, there are a few areas that accountants may find don’t conform to standard accounting practices, so users with accounting experience may find they need to adjust their practices slightly.

Fund accounting capability
True fund accounting is available in IconCMO, and it’s fully FASB compliant. The budget feature allows users to create an individual budget for each fund to manage them independently, and those budgets automatically transfer to the church’s larger budget, allowing users to see the bigger financial picture. Fiscal years are also customizable and can differ by fund. You can also quickly and easily make changes to transactions you’ve entered previously without having to delete transactions and start over. All of these elements are captured in the audit trail. Standard non-profit reports are also available, but customization can be difficult as they must be exported to Excel first (rather than having customization options in IconCMO).

Donation workflow
IconCMO’s donation management module integrates smoothly with the accounting module. Payment processing is facilitated by an integration with either Bambora (for online giving and recurring donations only) or Vanco (for online and text-based giving and recurring donations). Church staff or volunteer users can create pledge campaigns and manage them easily, and pledge amounts can be classified by fund to help with budget development and management. Contributions made outside of the donations module, such as check-based tithes and offerings, can be entered into an Excel spreadsheet and then imported into the donations module, and they’ll transfer automatically to the accounting module from there.

What else can it do for you?
The people management module in IconCMO allows you to set up directories and groups, communicate to the congregation in several ways (email, text, mobile push), track attendance, and add notes to specific congregants’ profiles. In addition, members can log in and use the people management module to track their own donations to the church.

The IconCMO check-in module, which does cost extra, is a nice feature for churches that have Sunday School or a nursery. Parents can check in their children on the mobile app, or a self-check-in kiosk can be set up in the nursery area. The check-in module automatically prints name badges, and it includes information on each child (such as allergies) that caregivers need to know.

If your church runs large events, such as Vacation Bible School, and needs to be able to track registration and take payment, then the events management module, which also costs extra, is worth it. The payments then transfer automatically to the accounting module.

Additional document storage beyond the 20 MB included can be added for an additional fee but might be necessary if the church is running a daycare or school and must maintain records such as birth certificates.

IconCMO pricing is based on the size of the congregation, and there is a handy calculator on the website. It’s a sliding scale pricing method, meaning that the larger the size of the congregation, the lower the cost per member. The check-in and events management modules—and the payroll module—are all fairly cost-effective, as well. Plus, there is a free trial offered, so you do have the opportunity to use it for a short period of time before making a decision.

Things we liked:

  • True fund accounting
  • Responsive customer support staff
  • Sliding scale pricing based on membership

Things we didn’t like:

  • Difficult to customize reports
  • Check-in module costs extra
  • Events management module costs extra

5. ParishSOFT

Best accounting software for a Catholic parish or diocese.

Founded and developed by a Catholic clergy member, ParishSOFT offers a robust suite of features designed specifically to meet the various needs of a Catholic parish. Available modules for parish management include Accounting, Family Suite, Giving, Facility Scheduler, and ParishCast. When used together, these modules create a comprehensive platform for managing the parish effectively and easily. The Accounting and Giving modules form the core of the diocese-level solution, and the Census module allows you to see a real-time directory of and communicate with all the people and information in the diocese.

Ease of use
Because ParishSOFT was designed by a clergy member specifically for use in a Catholic parish, it functions the way a Catholic parish works, making it easy to learn and use. Aspects of the user interface could be a little more modern, but staff members and volunteers alike will find the software exceptionally intuitive and straightforward. Plus, ParishSOFT is continually improving the platform based on user feedback. Because it’s cloud-based, users can access it from anywhere, and user-level permissions allow senior staff to control who has access to what—even at the fund level. There are lots of videos and tutorials to help new users acclimate to the software, and you can submit a support ticket directly on ParishSOFT’s website.

Fund accounting capability
ParishSOFT Accounting is a true fund accounting database, and it’s designed specifically to meet the needs of Catholic parishes, especially those that also run schools. It’s secure, with built-in audit controls and periodic close functions, and it’s flexible. Users can budget and report against independent funds—even those with unique fiscal years—and see overall parish financial information in one location, using the Consolidation functionality. The integrated Payroll module makes weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly payroll a breeze. The Purchase Order functionality not only simplifies the accounts payable process, but also helps with receiving goods as they arrive. There’s also a Fixed Asset function that will help the parish (or diocese) track all relevant asset information.

Donation workflow
The integrated ParishSOFT Giving module, which does cost extra, helps parishes increase the amount of contributions in the parish, and it saves tons of time with tracking those donations. Parishioners can make donations from anywhere (computer, kiosk, tablet, mobile phone), and they can set up recurring contributions. Because ParishSOFT Giving automatically integrates with ParishSOFT Accounting, donations will automatically be tracked—by fund—in Accounting.

What else can it do for you?
The Family Directory allows users to input member records that also include details about sacraments, such as Baptism and Confirmation dates. The My Own Church mobile directory includes a member portal where parishioners can sign up for volunteer work, classes, and view and update their information. Users can communicate with parishioners through the directory, too.

The Offerings and Pledges module helps to track and manage pledge campaigns. It also integrates with ParishSOFT Accounting and includes ParishSOFT Giving, which allows for one-time or recurring gifts.

Education is a cornerstone of the Catholic Church, and this software acknowledges that with the Religious Education feature, through which users can track and manage education offerings, develop relevant reports, and communicate easily. Online registration is provided, and ParishSOFT Tuition makes payments easy.

Other features include Ministry Scheduler for event and volunteer scheduling (allowing members to access the system online and manage their own participation) and Facility Scheduler.

Most ParishSOFT pricing information is not publicly available. However, ParishSOFT offers regular one-on-one and group product demonstrations and is responsive to requests for pricing.

Things we liked:

  • True fund accounting
  • Designed specifically for Catholic Churches
  • User-level permissions

Things we didn’t like:

  • Primarily effective only for Catholic parishes
  • Users complain it runs slowly
  • Tends to be buggy

6. Shelby Total Ministry

Best accounting software for a denominational headquarters location.

Shelby Total Ministry is a comprehensive all-in-one church management platform that can be used in a church, a ministry, or a denominational headquarters location. The platform allows users to manage membership, financials, giving, a website, communications, and even background checks, and each module is also available separately. With a 40-year history in church management software development, Shelby Systems is well-versed in the specific needs of churches of all sizes.

Ease of use
Shelby Total Ministry is a cloud-based platform. While it doesn’t have the shortest learning curve, it’s not that challenging to figure out, especially if you have experience in other church management platforms. Shelby Total Ministry also streamlines several processes, making them simpler than they would be in software packages that aren’t as well integrated. If you’re coming from another platform, Shelby offers free migration support, which should reduce the learning curve quite a bit. Plus, the customer service is excellent.

Fund accounting capability
ShelbyNext Financials is the accounting module of Shelby Total Ministry. It is a true fund accounting solution, and it works using sub-ledgers that feed the general ledger. The dashboard is customizable, and though the interface is a bit outdated, the functionality is everything most churches and denominational headquarters locations will need. ShelbyNext Financials supports accounts payable and receivable, fixed asset management, payroll, purchasing, and loan management. It’s FASB compliant, too, so you can be confident that the reports will provide you with the information you need.

Donation workflow
The ShelbyNext Giving module facilitates online giving and integrates directly with ShelbyNext Financials to streamline the donation tracking, budgeting, and reporting process. Online, mobile, text, and kiosk giving methods are supported, so you can deploy the solutions that make the most sense for your congregation. Plus, members can set up recurring transactions, further simplifying the tithe and offering process.

What else can it do for you?
ShelbyNext Membership provides tracking and management of membership, providing members with the ability to edit their own profiles. Reports can provide a glimpse into various aspects of member engagement. Other features include group management, mass communication, calendar, facilities reservations, giving tracking, child check-in, and mobile functionality.

ShelbyNext Websites is a church website builder with basic or premium options. New and smaller congregations will appreciate the availability of this module as they work to grow their congregations through online means.

And, if you need to run background checks on your staff and volunteers, Shelby Total Ministry can help with that with the Protect My Ministry module.

As with some other all-in-one platforms, Shelby Total Ministry pricing isn’t publicly posted. A list of their sales reps and account managers is posted on the website, and quotes will be provided based on your specific needs. Keep in mind that bundling all the modules together in the Shelby Total Ministry package will save you money overall, especially if you’re using separate systems now.

Things we liked:

  • True fund accounting
  • Well-integrated modules
  • Free migration support

Things we didn’t like:

  • Limited reporting options
  • Weak volunteer/activity management
  • Calendar lacks flexibility

7. Elexio

Website www.elexio.com
Price from $35/mo
Free Trial 60 Days

Best all-in-one accounting software for growing churches.

Another integrated suite of products, Elexio offers users the ability to manage members, finances, communication, donations, and payroll in a streamlined, cohesive process. The integrated modules allow administrative staff and volunteers to do more in less time, and custom technology bundles are available to give you only the functionality you need.

Ease of use
Elexio is a cloud-based platform and is very easy to set up and update. Customer service is very good, and the learning curve is short. The user interface is simple and intuitive. Elexio Church Accounting is technically an add-on product to the Elexio platform, but the direct interface with the church management and giving platforms does save time and effort overall; however, some workflows aren’t intuitive and may feel clunky to experienced accounting or church management software users.

Fund accounting capability
Elexio Church Accounting offers all the basic accounting components a church will need, such as accounts payable and receivable, bank account integration, and budgeting. That said, while Elexio does support fund accounting, entering donations into specific funds can be a bit frustrating and time consuming. Users do have the option of tracking all transactions by fund, and journal entries can be used to make adjustments as necessary. Plus, all the typical reports are available.

Donation workflow
The online giving platform by Elexio allows church staff to manage online, kiosk, and text-based contributions and run comprehensive reports. Plus, the online giving platform is integrated with Elexio Church Accounting to transfer the donations to the general ledger automatically.

What else can it do for you?
Elexio provides for membership management across devices and allows members to access and update their own profiles. Voice, text, and email messages can be scheduled and sent from the platform for easy communication. Elexio can track attendance, contributions, members, and groups. Customizable reports on the dashboard allow quick access to membership activity.

A key feature of Elexio’s check-in function is “Smart Check-In,” which can prepopulate pages based on pattern learning. Customizable “Church Health Dashboards” help with monitoring attendance, volunteer efforts, and giving through widgets and graphs.

Built-in workflows help with member interactions. For example, automation exists for task assignments, notifications, and confirmations, and the email function automatically updates the Elexio database on the back end. Elexio facilitates event management and tracking with details, volunteer scheduling, and registration forms that can be embedded on the church website or shared via social media. Elexio provides the option to collect payments online easily. Touting their software as “mobile responsive,” Elexio provides apps for Android or Apple devices.

Elexio is an affordable option for most churches, even small ones that are just starting out. Pricing is based on the number of members in the congregation. There are no setup fees, and Elexio offers a 60-day free trial, which is ample time to determine if the solution is right for you.

Things we liked:

  • Easy to learn
  • Excellent donations workflow
  • Good mobile app

Things we didn’t like:

  • Difficult fund accounting functionality
  • Reports difficult to set up/manage
  • Difficult to set up check-ins

8. CCIS Church Management

Price from $14.99/mo

Best stand-alone accounting software for churches.

CCIS Church Management software includes three integrated modules: membership (called Shield), accounting (called AccountAbility), and payroll. All three modules can also be used as standalone products, and each is designed with a church’s specific requirements in mind.

Ease of use
CCIS Church Management’s products are all Windows-based desktop software packages, except for a recently added cloud-based membership module. CCIS Church Management is very easy to use and administer, and though customer support is sometimes slow, the limited learning curve and online help means that users are up and running in no time. There’s also an annual support plan that costs a little extra, but it might be worth purchasing if church personnel or volunteers have no accounting experience. The user interface is a bit dated as compared to its cloud-based competitors, but its simplicity makes it a strong choice for an accounting solution, especially for a church with a limited budget. Multiple users can be in CCIS AccountAbility at the same time, and the audit trail tracks all their activities, making it easy to see who has done what.

Fund accounting capability
CCIS AccountAbility offers true fund accounting functionality, along with the basic accounting functions any organization would need. Restricted funds are easily entered, tracked, and managed throughout their lifecycle, and you can set up as many funds as you need using the customizable chart of accounts. There’s even a wizard that will help you create the right accounts for your situation. Reports allow church staff (or the finance committee) to demonstrate transparency to church leaders and members, as well. In addition, CCIS AccountAbility allows for some automation and both recurring and reversing journal entries, which not all products do.

Donation workflow
If you use CCIS Shield, you can easily import your contribution data into CCIS AccountAbility. This workflow will save you lots of time on manual data entry tasks, but they can be added manually quite easily if you’re using CCIS Accountability on its own.

What else can it do for you?
CCIS provides both web and Windows based Church Software. Although both include membership management with a thorough directory, and tracking of attendance, activities, contributions, offerings, tithes, and pledges, and reporting, the web based option provides online functionality, of course. Access can be limited to specific users and groups, too. Unfortunately, giving data from web-based Shield does not appear to import into desktop-based AccountAbility at this time.

The desktop versions of CCIS Church Management modules are all available for modest one-time fees. The cloud-based Shield platform for membership is also available for a very reasonable monthly subscription fee. Users can view a live demo of the cloud-based version for free to see if the product is right for them.

Things we liked:

  • Modules can be used as standalone products
  • Good audit trail
  • Low price

Things we didn’t like:

  • Reports can be difficult to customize
  • Dated user interface
  • Customer support sometimes slow

9. CDM+

Website www.cdmplus.com

Most cost effective accounting software for churches.

At a very low, one-time price, CDM+ is a very cost-effective all-in-one solution for any church with a limited budget. CDM+ includes membership and attendance, contributions, accounting and payroll, check-in, events, and calendar functionality, all in one platform.

Ease of use
CDM+ was designed by a minister and, as such, functions exactly the way a church does. There is a moderate learning curve, and staffers or volunteers without accounting or church finance experience may find it a bit overwhelming at first. In addition, even though the user interface is a bit outdated, it’s quite user-friendly overall. CDM+ allows for user-level permissions to be set, which means that users will only have access to the functionality they need. There’s good customer support, including online webinars and even an annual user conference, and there are comprehensive online user guides on the company’s website. CDM+ is available as a desktop (Windows or Mac), and can also be fully cloud-based or accessed as a hybrid solution (with a remote access module).

Fund accounting capability
CDM+ accounting is a true fund accounting platform, and it includes all the functionality most churches will need, including accounts payable, accounts receivable, recurring invoices, multiple accounting methods (cash, accrual, modified accrual), activity-based tracking for receivables and payables, and mass invoicing functionality. There is also good budgeting support. Though the software itself isn’t really customizable, CDM+ also includes payroll. In minutes, users can set up payroll profiles, track PTO, and print payroll documents and IRS-compliant documents (for example, 1099, W-2, W-3, and 941). CDM+ payroll also tracks tax and expense information for clergy—making end of year tax prep super-simple.

Donation workflow
The CDM+ Contributions module simplifies the donations process by allowing online giving. Staff members can set up multiple pledge and donation campaigns and track gifts in the way that makes most sense for the church; there are over 10,000 designations for contributions built into CDM+. Members can log into CDM+ Contributions, set up their contributions, and see a contribution history. Staff members can be confident that the giving statements in CDM+ Accounting are correct because the information flows directly from CDM+ Contributions. Not only does this automation save time, it also cuts down on errors.

What else can it do for you?
CDM+ provides a detailed membership directory that can be accessed from all CDM+ programs. Users can track attendance and contribution information for members. Visitor information can be easily converted to a membership record.

Event registration can be set up and managed easily, and provides fields to enter medical information such as allergies. Facilities management through Roommate™ operates via a calendar (or calendars) helps eliminate scheduling and resource conflicts. Check-In/Check-Out provides protection for the youngest congregants but also allows staff to check themselves in.

Web Ministry Tools pulls information from CDM+ to share it to the website. While CDM+ does not include a website builder or manager, it does offer data hosting. In addition, the Web Ministry Tools can integrate with Stewardship Technology to accept online payments. The web tools are packaged in two tiers: Basic and Premium.

CDM+ is available starting at a very modest monthly fee for the hybrid and cloud-based solutions. The desktop product is available to download for a one-time fee that’s affordable for almost any church—even brand new ones. Your best bet is to contact CDM+ for guidance as to which solution is best for your church’s specific needs.

Things we liked:

  • True fund accounting
  • Good reporting capability
  • Good customer service

Things we didn’t like:

  • Not always intuitive or user-friendly
  • Not very customizable
  • Outdated user interface

10. ACTS

Price from FREE/mo

Best accounting software for an international church plant.

ACTS made this list primarily because it’s free—forever. It’s also got several features that any small church will find useful, and it’s fully customizable because it’s open-source. All you need is someone with programming experience.

Ease of use
Small churches and international churches will love the simplicity of ACTS. It includes a number of features that any church will appreciate, and its simple, form-based data entry process makes it easy to learn. ACTS has been downloaded more than 13,000 times, demonstrating that free sometimes is enough. It is a desktop installed product, but some functionality (Webtool ACTS, which tracks personal information and attendance records) does rely on an internet connection. Multiple users are allowed, and user-level permissions are available.

Fund accounting capability
While the chart of accounts is fully customizable, ACTS isn’t designed based on fund accounting principles. You can still manage restricted and unrestricted funds in ACTS, but it isn’t quite as straightforward as other products. All other basic accounting functionality exists, though, and for a free tool, it’s still powerful enough to manage the needs of a good-sized congregation.

Donation workflow
Currently, all transactions must be entered directly into ACTS, so there really is no donation workflow (at least not one that saves time or effort). It’s not difficult to enter the information, though.

What else can it do for you?
In addition to accounting management, ACTS can record and track member data, groups, activities, check-in, venues and facilities, and donations. Multi-user functionality includes permissions.

It’s free. Forever and ever, amen.

Things we liked:

  • Free
  • Fully customizable (open source)
  • Feature rich for free software

Things we didn’t like:

  • Not designed for fund accounting
  • No donation workflow
  • No automations

The church is about people and building a community and not about profit. You and your congregants may not care about profit, but you can’t avoid the need to maintain finances while working within legal guidelines. Fund accounting and tax issues can be complex, and the more your church grows, the harder it will be to coordinate with members and donors and allocate funds to the right causes. Good accounting software combined with membership management and other nice-to-have features can take your church to the next level and help you achieve your faith community’s goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my church need special accounting software?

In short, because churches have special accounting needs, such as management and tracking of donations, funds, expenses, and finances in general. Churches need to make a special effort to maintain accounting transparency among donor members and other stakeholders, including the IRS.

What is fund accounting and why does my church need that feature?

Fund-based accounting is used by nonprofits to manage donations and other sources of funding. Sometimes funds or donations are provided for a specified purpose can only be used for that purpose. Other donations or funds can be used however the recipient organization desires. Software can help with organization of these donations or funds and ensure compliance.

How is church management software different from church accounting software?

Church management software focuses on membership management. Think of it as a church directory but one that allows you to keep detailed information about households; track attendance, donors, groups, and events; facilitate communication; help with event management, groups, and volunteers; and even provide an avenue for checking in. In a well-integrated system donations can be shifted easily into the accounting software.

Accounting software is just that—a way to maintain the books; track revenue and expenses, assets and liabilities, and transactions; and provide transparency to constituents through financial statements.

Why can’t my church just use accounting software?

You can! And many of the products we reviewed for this article do offer standalone accounting software. However, churches aren’t in the money business; they’re in the people business. Therefore, it makes sense to choose an integrated system that allows you to monitor your membership as well as your money.