Updated 11/2/2016 to add Rock RMS and Apostello by Church.io, update information on Excellerate and CahabaWorks, and remove Church Equip, which is no longer free.
Everyone loves free stuff.
No matter what it is, those four letters make you happy. However, sometimes free isn’t even worth the money you paid for it, and those four letters inevitably morph in other four lettered words. So how do you find something actually functional and worthwhile to help you manage your church without spending any money?
Well, look no further—below I’ve come up with a list of some free and open source church management solutions that will have all the functionality that you need. For some, the free option is only for very small churches with a limited number of members, but there are others as well that are free for any size church.
ChurchTrac is a church database for any size church to keep track of their attendance, groups, and members, as well as manage their finances and schedules. It has both web-based and installed options, and the installed version is free up to 100 names. They charge $100 total when you get to 250 names.
ChurchTrac offers membership management, attendance tracking, the ability to track giving, child check in, picture directories, and more. A unique feature is the ability to make absentee reports for people who were not at church services, and also the ability to enter people into certain ministries that they’re in or desire to be in, so that you can run a search to see who the best suited people would be to assist at certain events. Also, according to user reviews, the customer service is great.
A con would be that there is room for improvement on the accounting side of things, as you have to enter information for every account instead of having multiple accounts.
ChurchInfo is a free, web-based open source database that helps your church to manage and track members, groups, donations and payments. It is supported by an open-source community of people who volunteer to help in order to make the software accessible to churches. It is a web-based solution, and the system is completely free and there are no fees at any point. It is most useful for small congregations.
According to user reviews, ChurchInfo is a highly useful and functional tool with a lot of the functionality that more expensive software has, so it is really great for churches on a budget. The installation process is easy and the system is fairly intuitive, although it may require a bit of technical knowledge at the outset to get set up.
Rock RMS is a robust open-source church management solution earning tons of positive reviews from its users and providing all the features a small to mid-size church needs to get started. In addition to membership, family, and donation management features, Rock RMS boasts a content management system and check-in features. Churches that have contributed to Rock RMS include Lakepointe Church and Willow Creek Community Church, two large churches with internet campuses, suggesting that this software could even be a starting point for larger organizations looking to build more complex software solutions.
According to reviewers, Rock RMS has a great support community, crucial for open-source software. However, hosting the software does have its costs, and can be difficult for small churches that lack an IT expert. As with any open source software, it’s good to check into the logistics of using Rock RMS before signing up.
Working Church is church membership management software to help you keep track of your members, attendance, events, and donations. It is downloadable software that is installed on your computer, and it is free for up to 25 members. After that it is $47 for the “Lite” version for up to 100 members.
According to user reviews, customer service is attentive to all needs, is easy to use, and is designed to help with church accounting, growth, and management.
Some downsides would be that it is not accessible from home, as it is not web-based, and that it is only free for a small number of members.
Excellerate is a customizable church management system that helps churches of all sizes manage and track members and visitors, manage donations, send bulk emails, etc. The pricing goes up the more members that you have, but they offer a free version for up to 50 members. When you get to 100 members it is $145 total and continues scaling up to extremely large congregation sizes.
According to user reports, Excellerate is very responsive to their customers’ needs, and is very adaptable to them as well- they recently added a cloud-based version of the software, and it is now available for Mac. They are also always improving and updating, and the system is not complicated to use.
One downside is that the installed version of the software is not available for Mac, and must be accessed through an app or website.
CahabaWorks is installed church management software for managing members, groups, contributions, fund accounting financials, and child check-in. Their standard edition, for small/medium sized churches, is free with no support, and has no limits on people or total assets tracked—it is $350 for the standard edition with support, and there are also different pricing options for their premier version.
Based on user testimonials, the system has great and responsive tech support, and is a great system for small churches, and fund accounting. There are many options and it is very intuitive for managing and tracking finances, as well as being easy to download and install.
Conversely there is a bit of a learning curve at the beginning and it can take some time to get used to. Customer support is responsive, and could solve the learning curve problem, but it does cost an extra fee. There is no Mac version.
AgapeWORKS is online church management software that gives churches the ability to manage and control their congregation. It is meant specifically to help small, growing churches. They provide churches with the ability to track and manage attendance and donations, memberships, and plan and organize events and projects. For just their essential features, the system is free for an unlimited number of users. The price goes up to $149 for their enhanced features, and has certain other features that you can add on individually for a small sum.
AgapeWORKS allows you to have a web-presence without needing a full time IT staff—it gives you the tools to run your church efficiently on your own without too much additional help, and, according to user reviews, has great online giving capabilities.
A downside is that it may not have the kind of functionality that a larger church would require, as it is geared towards smaller churches.
Honorable Mention: Apostello by Church.io
From the makers of OneBody (a free church directory and social network), Apostello is an open source SMS platform with some of the functionality of a church management solution. Church.io’s suite of software is still growing so it’s possible that in the future Apostello may develop into a more robust solution, but in the meantime, it’s a great solution for small churches that just need a free and simple way to manage members and groups. The software can also be used for event signups and even provides usage statistics.
Apostello isn’t quite a church management solution, and even combined with OneBody as a directory solution, it lacks basic event management features like a calendar. However, as mentioned above, it’s great for small churches, which can probably get by with free event management software and Microsoft Excel while they’re saving up for a more expensive end-to-end solution. It’s also worth mentioning the Keywords feature, which allows users to respond to texts with just one word and use that to sort responses, a brilliant addition to open source church software.
Know of any more free church management solutions? Add them in the comments below!
Looking for Church Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Church Management software solutions.