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10 Reasons Why My Church Selected Elvanto As Our Member Database

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10 Reasons Why My Church Selected Elvanto As Our Member Database

After researching many church member database solutions, here are 10 reasons why we chose Elvanto (and haven’t looked back!).

I've spent a lot of time researching church member databases. Many, many hours have been spent researching, comparing, trialling and note-taking.

UPDATE: Here's a list I've compiled of more than 100 products on the market.

It was a painful process – perhaps one that you are going through right now.

But the outcome was well worth it! We decided on Elvanto, and haven't looked back!

It's a church member database (or church management system) that is really assisting the ministries of my church, and I now wholeheartedly recommend it to others.

After many conversations with pastors at numerous churches, I thought I'd share with you the reasons why we made the switch to Elvanto and haven't looked back.

I should point out that the reasons below are based on the features we're making use of, but there's a lot more to Elvanto than the 10 features listed below.

1. Easy to use

I know this sounds obvious, but there are many church member databases out there, and not all are easy to use.

But they need to be, if anyone is going to use them – which is the point of having one!

This might sound crazy, but I've spoken to too many people who are paying for church management systems that are too difficult to use and are nothing more than a glorified Excel spreadsheet.

It doesn't matter how good the features might be. If you can't use it, it's a waste of time and money.

2. Prompt, expert support

I can't speak highly enough of the support provided by the team at Elvanto.

Similar to the customer service I've always received from companies like Wufoo, Buffer and WPCurve (a few of my favourites). I've never waited more than a couple of hours to receive a reply to a question or issue.

And I can't emphasise this enough either – support matters.

With any church management software, you will have questions and there will be issues, and it's essential to be well supported to make the most of your system.

3. Efficient group management tools

People can easily be added to groups, and groups are powerful and can be used to collect people in different ways. People can be added to groups such as:

  • Congregations
  • Small groups
  • Serving teams
  • Elders and Deacons, etc.

For example, these are the groups I am a member of:

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 1.12.55 PM

Within groups in Elvanto, you can easily contact people and mark attendance (e.g. at church or small group), create events for group members, and more.

Related to groups and a commonly requested feature from many of the churches I've spoken with is the ability to create a member directory.

It's now very easy to generate a member directory from Elvanto, to view online, or print/email as a PDF.

4. Detailed custom reporting

Most church database solutions include reporting tools. However, these can be complex, and not necessarily customisable. With Elvanto, you can easily create detailed reports on just about any piece of data you've stored.

For example, you can report on:

  • Who has been attending/not attending church.
  • How many adults/kids/teens/men/women attend your church.
  • How many people have completed Christianity Explored.
  • Who has joined the church in the last X days.
  • The members who aren't in a Connect Group.
  • And much more.

There's a bunch of standard reports, or you can create your own. For example, I've created a report to tell me which people are serving in kids ministry whose Safe Ministry qualifications are due to expire in the next 6 months.

The reports can be easily shared, or exported to another format (e.g. CSV).

Here's a video from Elvanto that explains this further:

5. Access on the go

You can easily view all data in Elvanto on your phone or tablet.

When I say ‘easily', I don't mean pinching and scrolling until you eventually find the phone number.

No, Elvanto knows when you're using a phone or tablet, and adjusts accordingly. This makes it easy to look up a phone number, check the roster or send an email.

mobile-access

6. Flexible people categories

People categories are a great way to arrange the people in your church, to care for them as best as possible. For example, you could set up categories such as:

  • Core
  • Crowd
  • Community

You can use these categories to pray for people, and consider how you might help to move people from Crowd (e.g. fringe of church life) to Core (a committed and involved member).

In addition to people categories, you have complete flexibility to store other helpful information, including:

  • How people are involved in church life,
  • What courses they've participated in,
  • Spiritual gifts,
  • How people would like to serve,
  • How they would like to be communicated with,

Or anything else you can think of.

For example, I set up these fields in our database to record the details of a first visit to our church:

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 4.43.41 PM

UPDATE: We also use Elvanto to maintain our Safe Ministry records, to keep kids safe. Find out more.

7. Powerful communication tools

Communicating with the people in your church is another key area where Elvanto stands out from many of its competitors.

Templates

You can create template emails and letters, that save you from typing out the same messages, over and over again. For example, reminder emails, welcome emails, etc.

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 1.19.57 PM

You can then select an individual, group or congregation and send an email (or letter) using that template.

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 1.22.30 PM

It is super-easy to do, and this functionality is very handy.

I can't stress this enough – I believe this alone makes Elvanto a worthwhile solution for most churches, even if it didn't have any other features!

SMS

You can set-up SMS messaging (where members agree to receive them). You need to select a provider, but I think this can be really useful – we're currently exploring sending text messages to parents in church, letting them know if their children need attention in Kids' Church.

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 1.24.54 PM

Email marketing integration

We use MailChimp at Church by the Bridge to send our weekly email newsletter. Elvanto integrates with this seamlessly, allowing us to easily add people to receive E-News from within the database.

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 1.25.28 PM

8. Form integration

With Elvanto you can create online forms and collect any sort of data you like – e.g. feedback forms (be careful with this one!), event registrations, first impressions etc.

There's lots of providers that you can use to create forms, but where Elvanto comes into its own is its ability to integrate this data.

For example, we've created a simple sign-up form for people who'd like to participate in the Christianity Explored course:

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 2.28.45 PM

The information provided on this form can be used to create a new person on the database, or update the details of an existing person. This saves a lot of time, and deals with the challenges of having data in multiple places.

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 2.30.41 PM

 

Once the form is submitted, you can set up processes for what should happen next – e.g. send an email, give them a phone call, update their details, add to a group, etc.

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 2.42.32 PM

9. Service planning and rostering

We are about to make We made the the switch from Planning Center Online to use Elvanto for our service planning and rostering.

I've been impressed with the extent of the features offered by Elvanto that replicate those of Planning Center Online – so much so that we're ready to move across.

By using the service planning and rostering tools in Elvanto, not only will we save $100 a month, we'll also and make use of having all of our information in one place.

Previously, when someone left church, or their details changed, we'd have to update their details on our database and in Planning Center Online. Now, one change is all we need.

10. People flows

This functionality we haven't really got into yet, but it will be really useful once set-up. People flows allow you to create processes to love people and reduce the number of ‘cracks‘ in your ministry systems and process.

With a people flow, you map out the steps for caring for people – e.g. from sending a welcome email, to following up to see how a newcomer is going a month after their first visit. Here's a template people flow provided with Elvanto:

Screen Shot 2013-04-28 at 3.07.24 PM

Free trial

If you're convinced, you might like to sign-up for a free trial. If you have any questions about Elvanto, I'd be happy to help out, or you can contact them directly.

Elvanto

Disclosure: I am writing about Elvanto because I use it and highly recommend it. In the interests of full disclosure, I want to let you know that if you sign-up to Elvanto using the links in this article, I'll receive a (modest) referral fee.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Jodie McNeill

    April 30, 2013 at 11:34 am

    We’re using it too, down here at Oak Flats Anglican, and we’re thrilled with it. Yes, the support is amazing. I usually get answered by email within an hour or two, and often speak directly to Ben, the founder. There are still some more features I’d like, but they seem to be rolling out new things all the time, and that’s a great help. +1 to Steve’s recommendation.

  2. Rowan Winsemius

    April 30, 2013 at 11:40 am

    We also just signed up recently and have been loving it. The free trial is a great way to get a look at it and you dont get that with a lot of the other options out there. And the pricing is really good for the functionality you get given that it really seems to be turning into an all-in-one package.

  3. Chris Jones

    April 30, 2013 at 11:40 am

    We also use Elvanto up here at St Stephen’s Normanhurst. Such a great tool for ministry. Agree with all of Steve’s points, and Jodie’s comments too. The customer service is exceptional, and new features are constantly being rolled out (and in response to request from churches who are using it). Good choice.

  4. Matt

    April 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Can you hace credit card payments with Event Registration? This is one limitation with CCB that we use. There are way around it like syncing with E-way but it’s clunky!

  5. Steven Kryger

    April 30, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Matt, I don’t think this is possible yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in the pipeline. In the interim, you could check out a solution like Halo Tickets (http://www.communicatejesus.com/2012/05/halo-tickets-a-solution-for-ministry-events/), or Wufoo.

  6. Kim Wearden

    May 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    It’s an awesome database. We use it at c3 church Wollondilly/Camden. Simple to use, great systems for email communication, people flows are great, connect group reporting easy, easy and prompt communication with the elvanto team…the list goes on! It’s made all the difference for our churches!

  7. Cade

    May 31, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Have you looked at Jethro? http://jethro-pmm.sourceforge.net I would be interested in reading a comparison of the two.

  8. Steven Kryger

    June 3, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Hi Cade, we used to use Jethro (http://www.communicatejesus.com/2010/04/six-reasons-my-church-uses-the-jethro-member-database/), and I still think it’s a great option. However, for the benefits listed above, we decided to make the switch to Elvanto.

  9. Bren McLean

    August 20, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Steve,
    We have been using CCB for 5 years and it is a powerful database. However, we are considering Elvanto because of a number of features that CCB lacks, such as:
    1. Rostering and planning features
    2. Event registration
    3. Australian based benefits
    4. General look and user friendliness

    Do you know how well the data can be exported from CCB and imported into Elvanto?

  10. Steven Kryger

    August 21, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Hi Bren, I don’t have any experience with this, but I’ve posted the question on the Elvanto discussion forum (http://www.communicatejesus.com/2013/08/a-discussion-forum-for-elvanto-users/)

  11. dawesi

    September 25, 2014 at 1:21 am

    PS: if using sms for kids church, also assume that mobile batteries can be flat, or mobiles may be set to silent and not noticed, so don’t exclusively rely on that.

  12. dawesi

    September 25, 2014 at 1:21 am

    PS: if using sms for kids church, also assume that mobile batteries can be flat, or mobiles may be set to silent and not noticed, so don’t exclusively rely on that.

  13. dawesi

    September 25, 2014 at 1:21 am

    PS: if using sms for kids church, also assume that mobile batteries can be flat, or mobiles may be set to silent and not noticed, so don’t exclusively rely on that.

  14. dawesi

    September 25, 2014 at 1:21 am

    PS: if using sms for kids church, also assume that mobile batteries can be flat, or mobiles may be set to silent and not noticed, so don’t exclusively rely on that.

  15. dawesi

    September 25, 2014 at 1:21 am

    PS: if using sms for kids church, also assume that mobile batteries can be flat, or mobiles may be set to silent and not noticed, so don’t exclusively rely on that.

  16. dawesi

    September 25, 2014 at 1:21 am

    PS: if using sms for kids church, also assume that mobile batteries can be flat, or mobiles may be set to silent and not noticed, so don’t exclusively rely on that.

  17. dawesi

    September 25, 2014 at 1:23 am

    a new Christian event management and ticketing service is being launched Q4 in AU… shortly after christianhome.com is launched.

  18. YNWA

    January 24, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    It seems like every church management system I see out there is really overpriced. I know it can do everything and then some, but for our church we don’t need all that extra stuff and don’t see the point to spend that much.

    We use Easy Church Tools for our system (http://www.easychurchtools.com/church-management-software/). For our church of 500 it is only $30/mo instead of $150 with Elvanto. We love it!

  19. YNWA

    January 24, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    It seems like every church management system I see out there is really overpriced. I know it can do everything and then some, but for our church we don’t need all that extra stuff and don’t see the point to spend that much.

    We use Easy Church Tools for our system (http://www.easychurchtools.com/church-management-software/). For our church of 500 it is only $30/mo instead of $150 with Elvanto. We love it!

  20. Steven Kryger

    January 27, 2015 at 11:56 am

    It really depends on what functionality you require. Comparing Easy Church Tools with Elvanto isn’t a ‘like for like’ comparison. It’s good to map out what you need, and then work out the solution that best fits these needs. For my church, Elvanto was a great way of not only caring for people, but also planning services, preparing rosters, managing music and more.

  21. Steve

    April 2, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    While I really like the features of Elvanto, I have to agree with YNWA that it’s expensive. For example for 101 adults its $600 per year, $1,200 for 2 years, $1,800 for 3 years. That’s when you pay annually otherwise it $2,376 for 3 years! Do other church software providers also charge these kinds of fees? We would love to use it, just can’t afford it, and not sure we would stomach it anyway even if we could. Elvanto no doubt has to pay their top development staff (that’s a compliment) so no hard feelings guys but hopefully once the development has been mostly finalised they can reduce the fees.

  22. Suzie

    May 4, 2017 at 2:01 am

    What is your experience with Check-in processes in Elvanto compared to PCO? Our church is actually using both currently and we are exploring the idea of simplifying to one of them. Half or staff prefers PCO and the other Elvanto.

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