If you’re shopping for a church accounting solution, you may be wondering if free software is the way to go, or if you should invest money into a product. You may be asking yourself questions like, What’s a chart of accounts? What are end of the year reports? What’s fund accounting? And most of all, Which accounting software is best?
If you’d like a crash course on church accounting, then consider signing up for our free Church Accounting 5-Day Email Course. If you’re interested in the pros and cons of free church accounting software versus paid products, continue reading.
Here are 4 things to consider when choosing which accounting software your church is going to use:
- Is the software intuitive?
- Can you easily create a (good) chart of accounts?
- Does it offer an easy way to record and import transactions?
- Will the software easily generate necessary financial reports?
Free Church Accounting Software
The first thing you want to research is the UI (user interface) and overall feel of the software. Some software is fairly easy to use with a friendly UI, while others look like replicas of Windows 99, and aren’t intuitive. Be sure to find software that is easy to navigate and offers the necessary accounting features.
Next, look at the major features of the software. As mentioned above, church accounting software boils down to setting up your accounts, entering in transactions or contributions, and printing relevant financial reports. Most free church accounting software provides basic ways to enter in different income and expenses, and offers basic reporting needs. Some of them even offer basic invoicing capabilities.
The last thing you’ll want to note is the level of customer support that is provided. While most free options provide a basic support system, you’ll want to look for accounting software that has a relevant knowledge base of support articles, and an email or chat support option.
If your church is in the market for the bare minimum accounting needs, free church accounting software may be a good fit. But if your church is looking for more detailed church accounting software, you may want to consider a paid option.
Pros of Free Accounting Software
- It’s free!
- Basic accounting functions and simple reports
- They offer simple support (some of the time)
Cons of Free Accounting Software
- Some have bad UI
- Limited features and reports
- Customer support is lacking
Paid Church Accounting Software
When looking for great church accounting software, you’ll want a program that can easily record your chart of accounts, transactions and contributions, and can generate financial reports.
So if your church is looking for more detailed accounting software that can cater to the unique needs of your church, paying for software may be a good fit. For a list of solid software options, read this article on the Best Church Accounting Software options.
Paid software often has good UI and is easy to navigate. Some important features to look for are fund accounting, bank integration, invoicing, custom reports, fundraising tools, online giving options, people management features, and an easy way to enter and import transactions.
Another key thing to look for is great customer support and an easy-to-understand onboarding process. Remember, people pay for a service because they want a great product and accessible customer support.
Great customer support is key for success. After all, church bookkeeping can get complex, and having ongoing support after purchasing a software product is a big plus. This is especially true when you’re able to talk on the phone with someone who can walk you through troublesome processes.
Bonus tip: You may want to look into software that has church management features as well, such as email marketing, event registration, etc. Additional bookkeeping services are a plus.
Pros of Paid Accounting Software
- Easy navigation and good UI
- The ability to cater to your church’s different accounting needs
- More accounting and people management features
- Robust reporting options
- More accessible customer support
Cons of Paid Accounting Software
- It costs money
- Some software might offer too many options and, as a result, be overwhelming at first
Is Free Church Accounting Software Right for You?
Again, choosing what software is best for you isn’t easy, whether it’s free or paid. When deciding, keep in mind that issues will come up. Consider which companies can help after you start using their product. You’ll need intuitive navigation, easy-to-use features, and reports catered to your church’s specific needs.
If the paid route seems to be a better fit, try Aplos Church Accounting Software for free. No credit card required or strings attached. So you can try it before you buy it.
Good luck and happy accounting!