New Database Part Two: Groups

Last week I wrote about the ways our new database Planning Center Online (PCO) will impact the ways we do Giving at Foothills. This week my focus is on Groups!

TL/DR: New online group directory for all church groups. Information on group activities now can be found on their individual group pages.

Groups

At last count, Foothills has over 60 official groups, ministries, and teams. Before now, keeping track of them all, let alone making it easy to learn about and connect with them, was a challenge. One of the key features of our new database is an online infrastructure to support our church’s groups. Here is what I am most excited about:

  • Our new online group directory showcases all the groups in one place. It also allows you all to request to be added to groups that are open to new members.
  • Group pages contain essential information including: descriptions, meeting times and dates, and contact information.
  • Group leaders can now easily see who is in their group, communicate with them all by email, and create events for all group members to see.
  • Private Groups allow only group members to see the information about group activities and members.
  • Public groups allow the whole church to get excited and involved in your events.

Many of you are involved in many different groups – by logging into your account via the group directory, you can see and access all the groups you are part of, include some private groups that only members of those groups can access.

As the year rolls on we will no doubt be learning more about our new system and be sharing with you more information. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. For questions regarding Giving please contact Carolyn Myers, our church administrator (carolyn@foothillsuu.org); questions about Groups can be directed to me, Sean Neil-Barron (sean@foothillsuu.org)

Accessing Your Planning Center Account

We are now rolling out our new church database, or more truly our new Church Management System (ChMS), called Planning Center

To access a few of the features of our new system (accessing your giving statement, accessing certain church group)  you have to log in. But fear not, you won’t ever need to remember a password.

Planning Center uses a passwordless login. When logging in, the system will instantly send you an email that contains a link. Open your email, click the link and you will be instantly logged in. It will then remember you for 30 days, so if you use the same computer, so no need to log in again. Snazzy, eh?

Introducing Our New Church Database! Wait…….Don’t Stop Reading!

The new financial year at Foothills is bringing some big changes! We have a new congregational database, which may not sound like a big deal, but it is. Before I dive deeper I want to thank Michael Latta, AJ Johnson, and Margaret Cottam, who formed the ad hoc committee that worked with me to evaluate the various options –  their work was foundational to getting us to this moment. Thanks!

First, why the change? A few reasons:

  • First, it’s the 21st century and we needed a 21st-century database.
  • Second, we wanted a system that would do more than store information, but become a tool to unleash the ministry of our lay leaders.
  • Third, we wanted to give you all access to your own information without having to call the office.
  • Fourth, we wanted to remove the information barriers between you and our church’s groups and gatherings.

For all of these reasons, we decided to go with Planning Center Online, or PCO for short. This may be the first time you have really thought about the church having a database so you might be wondering: What does this mean for me?

There are two major areas that you will start to notice a difference: Giving and Groups. This post will cover the former, and our next post will cover the latter.

Too Long/Didn’t Read (or TL/DR)

In the online world, TL/DR is used to give you the quick summary of a document, to help us all gain the essentials without becoming overwhelmed by the details.

TL/DR: Online donation is now easier. Access your donation history online at any time. Giving Statements will be created by individual rather than by household.

Giving

Planning Center makes it super easy to donate and manage your financial giving to the congregation, online. It’s easy to set up or modify recurring pledge payments (directly from your bank account) from a secure online portal. This reduces the amount of your financial information the church has on file, making it more secure.

Another change you will love around tax season is that you will be able to access your donation history and giving statements online at all times!

Moving to a new system always entails some changes to the way we operate. The biggest change is we will no longer generate annual and quarterly giving statements by household. Following non-profit best practices, and the way the IRS records donations, we will send you individual donation statements.

If you pledge and give as a household, your donations will not be combined into one statement but rather will be separated based on who made the donation. If you are donating by check from a joint bank account, indicate who the donation should be credited to for tax purposes in the memo line.

We acknowledge that your financial commitment is from your entire household. 

Where can you access your account you may ask? Head over to foothillsuu.org/give and follow the links! Wondered how logging in will work? Read the post on that!

As the year rolls on we will no doubt be learning more about our new system and be sharing with you more information. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. For questions regarding Giving, please contact Carolyn Myers, our church administrator (carolyn@foothillsuu.org); questions about Group can be directed to me, Sean Neil-Barron (sean@foothillsuu.org)