Wondering what ChurchTools is working on right now?
Matthias Huber, our CEO, recently held an online seminar on “What to expect from ChurchTools in 2021”. Here is a summary of the most important updates.
We’ve seen that especially in Covid19 times, fast and secure online communication has become even more important for churches. That’s why we launched ChurchTools Mobile Chat last year. It is based on the following principles:
We think a good chat service must …
- respect data protection
- be accessible to everyone
- be free of charge
- be device-independent
- keep the communication flow going.
Mobile Chat has been well received: More than half of the churches that use ChurchTools also use the mobile chat. We received a lot of positive feedback on this, but deservedly we often heard the following critical voices:
„I don’t always want to type everything on my smartphone.“
„In my church, not everyone has a smartphone. We can’t use the chat.“
„Why can’t I write on the computer?“
There is good news! We have taken this feedback to heart and are bringing the chat to the web browser and thus to your desktop computer before the end of this month. The web chat will then be accessible via the profile menu at the top right under the menu item “Web Chat”. A separate tab opens where you can chat with your church contacts in parallel with all other ChurchTools activities. All chats update in real time and conversations continue seamlessly when you switch back and forth between mobile and web chat. Since there will be both mobile and web chat, we’ll just call it “chat” from now on.
The new Sync Module
In the future, we will also offer the possibility to synchronize ChurchTools installations with other external systems as well as with other ChurchTools installations. In the new Sync module, you can connect external systems, set the configuration, perform executions once or automatically, and track results in the activity logs.
A brief case study: A national association of churches and their associated churches all use ChurchTools. The association wants to collect all important information about its church leaders in its ChurchTools installation and have it updated regularly. It opens the new Sync module, connects to a church via access key, filters personal data that should be synchronized, and executes the synchronization once. The expected result is achieved. Then the association switches the synchronization to “daily”, so that their data will automatically be updated when there is a change to one of its church leaders (e.g. new pastor is hired).
Beta testing for the new Sync module will begin in Q2 2021.
Last year we released the module ChurchTools Finance. It allows churches to easily and securely manage their financial accounting within ChurchTools. Any authorized person can make transactions, create reports, allocate budgets, create donation receipts and much more.
„Can the module ChurchTools Finance also import and assign transactions on a large scale?“
In recent weeks we have heard this question a lot. And our answer so far has been, “Unfortunately, no.” But now we are adding: “But that will change soon!”
Before the end of this year, we plan to release a feature that will allow you to load transaction files from online banking (CSV or MT490) into the module Finance. ChurchTools will then automatically suggest how to categorize individual entries. Your church treasurer can then decide whether to accept the suggestions immediately or to adjust individual ones manually. Therefore, he always retains control and has an overview of the accounting data. ChurchTools continuously learns and improves its suggestions, so that the cashier has less and less effort with the bookkeeping maintenance.
Quick bonus: ChurchTools Finance already offers the possibility to rapidly and easily issue donation receipts. We think this should also work with thank you letters (and also during the year). This functionality is also planned for 2021.
Furthermore, we would like to give you an outlook on the topics that are on our long-term roadmap. Dates on these features are TBD, but we wanted to share our thoughts with you already, so you know what to expect down the line. If things go well, one or the other of the following features will be released this year. 🙂
New group module in ChurchTools Web
Groups are at the center of ChurchTools. They are linked to almost all other modules and therefore have a particularly high priority for us. We have therefore asked ourselves how we can make better use of the potential groups within ChurchTools? The following 3 points came up:
- We want to better visualize group structures: Groups should appear in a dynamic and interactive organization chart.
- We want to individualize group types further: Groups should be placed contextually (e.g. on linked pages) and presented more individually (e.g. highlight registration status more, enable quick feedback on group meetings).
- We want to give each group the space it deserves: There should be a separate module just for groups and each group should get an individual page with relevant numbers, content and functionalities.
At the beginning, the new group module will launch as a beta version in parallel to the current people & groups module. On the one hand, this should make the transition easier for you and on the other hand, it should give you the chance to provide your feedback as early as possible. When ready, you will be able to activate the group beta via the admin settings. Lastly, the best thing about it: The new group module will be included in your current ChurchTools subscription – no extra charge.
More app funcionalities
So far, the focus in the app is on services and communication without using email. But of course ChurchTools can do much more and we would like to bring existing web functionalities into the app. Again, we asked ourselves how we can use the full potential of existing functions. Here are 2 approaches:
- We want to simplify regular processes through the app: Users should be able to answer requests for group participation, leaders should be able to get a better overview of self-created requests and manage their follow-ups, there should be detailed event infos, we want to give church services the appropriate space, and all of this should be visible and customizable on the app start page.
- We want to enable scheduling tasks in the app: Users will be able to book resources and create appointments, leaders will additionally be able to assign services.
Whew, that was a whole lot of announcements 🙂 If you want to be kept up to date on the progress of these topics, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter. About once a month we send info about updates, new features, tips & tricks and more.