There are many ChMS companies and products that I have recently connected with, especially as we sought to do our ChMS Overview last month. One of those companies was White Mountain Software and their ChMS ChurchWatch. I have known Paul Weisberg for many years and I enjoyed catching up with him in preparation for the ChMS Overview. I thought our readers would like to know a bit more as well, so I have interviewed him for this month’s Special Feature!
Tell us a bit about White Mountain Software.
Sure. White Mountain Software was officially founded in 1999 when our current flagship product, ChurchWatch, was ready for the market. Prior to that time, we had been involved in Church Management Software starting in 1991. We have a mission and a sincere passion to use our skills to provide top-notch software tools to churches around the world.
Over the years our business has grown steadily. In fact, since 2001 we have bought out the businesses of perSEY, Parish Solutions and most recently Clavis CAS. It is a business strategy that may be unique to White Mountain Software, I don’t know, but it is a practise we have followed for a number of years. This has broadened our market share significantly in a short time frame.
Today, our software is sold to at least 30 different Christian denominations in 17 countries, but primary in the USA and Canada.
What is your mission statement?
We like to tell our church customers that “our mission is whatever your mission is”. But primarily we seek to provide Christian churches with high quality software tools to help churches achieve their highest goals for the kingdom. We take great joy in helping organize churches.
Why should churches consider Church Management Software?
We believe very strongly that all churches, regardless of size should have some form of Church Management Software. If we ignore all the other features a CMS can provide, the donation and tax receipt management features alone are indispensable. Even in a small church the number of donations over a 12 month period can really add up. Tracking these donations by hand and calculator can add up to a lot of work. And come tax time, the creation of tax receipts can take considerable time and involve human errors. A CMS can quickly and easily produce multiple copies of accurate tax receipts, even including digitally signed receipts so that there is no need to sign each receipt. The time savings are phenomenal and the reduction in mistakes should also be considered. Beyond donations, every church has to at least deal with mailings, contact information, facility management and church directories. A software based CMS approach makes this so much easier.
OK, tell us a bit about your software product called ChurchWatch.
ChurchWatch has been on the market for about 15 years now. It is a comprehensive, powerful, yet easy to use Church Management System (CMS) suitable for use by any denomination and by churches of any size. It is designed for Microsoft Windows but can work just fine on a Macintosh equipped with Parallels ™ or similar software. We’ve designed it to be as flexible as possible so that users can “bend it” to suit the specific needs of their church and/or denomination. We have all the usual components that one would expect in any comprehensive CMS, including membership management, donation and giving management, tax receipting, pledge management and tracking, facility/resource/scheduling management via a graphical calendar, visitor management, library management, ‘register’ management (baptisms, deaths, marriage etc), sermon management, mail/communications management, bulk email and a lot more. We also include over 700 reports for getting data out of the databases and all of these reports are user-modifiable and users can even create their own new reports. We tried to make the software as easy and as fun to use as we could. The software is configurable to suit the needs of any church.
ChurchWatch also integrates with other products like PhoneTree™, QuickBooks™, Simply Accounting™, Microsoft Word™, OpenOffice™, and Corel WordPerfect™ to name a few.
How do you deal with different sized churches?
Most churches of significant size choose our flagship product either in a stand-alone or network version. But we recognize that funds can be scarce in small churches and that good stewardship of those funds is of high importance. So an expensive solution is out of the question for many. But we believe that our software is such an important time saver that we want all churches to have access to it. To this end we have also created a “light” version of our product that helps small churches get started at a very low cost. The “light” version includes everything the full version does, minus the Schedule Manager and it limits usage to 250 families (with any number of people). Other than these two limitations, it’s exactly the same software as the full version.
What separates ChurchWatch from other CMS systems?
In addition to the standard features everyone would expect in a CMS we have so many great features in our software and we are constantly adding new ones. First of all the software can handle an unlimited number of databases. Folks that manage more than one church will love this feature. For example a user can create completely separate databases for more than one church, or perhaps for a Vacation Bible School to keep data separate. Then without leaving the software, a user can instantly switch context to work in another database. It’s really powerful.
The same context switch idea can be applied to past giving years. Without leaving the software, a user can instantly switch context from the current giving year to a past, archived giving year and can even make edits in the past years data, create or reprint tax receipts etc.
ChurchWatch has a very cool graphical calendar-based scheduling system that is integrated directly with the membership database so that staff, events, classes and visits can be easily and quickly scheduled. Users can also assign rooms and resources to these events and will be warned instantly if a scheduling conflict is created. The Schedule Manager also supports attendance tracking, both summary and detailed.
The Membership Manager supports map views, using several possible sources. It’s possible to visually see the current family’s address on a graphical map. This feature has been there for awhile and I think ChurchWatch may have been one of the first CMS systems to introduce this.
Our next version has some even cooler new features. For example, it’s possible to export the entire membership database, or a portion of it to Google Earth ™ so that you can see your church demographics on a map. Customers can see where their attendance physically comes from. Now its easy to answer questions like, “Who lives near…”.
Creating tax receipts is typically done very few times, perhaps once, during the year and it’s hard to remember all the steps. We’ve created a brand new Tax Receipt Manager that walks the user easily through the process, giving helpful hints every step of the way.
Our new version also has TeamViewer™ integration so that we can serve our customer’s better with easy remote access features activated by the customer when needed. It allows us to view and control the church computer (with permission) so that problems can be quickly solved.
We even have an online news panel built into the software so that we can keep our customers informed of patches, interesting information, news and upcoming events.
What’s on the horizon for ChurchWatch?
This fall we will be releasing Version 6 of ChurchWatch packed with more new features, some of which were already mentioned. We’re really excited about this new version. It’s been in the works for awhile now and we can’t wait to get it into customer’s hands.
Great stuff! Where can we learn more?
We have a great website at www.churchwatch.com where folks can download a free demo or take an online tour. There is a lot of other great information there too. Or call us directly at 1-877-955-3657 toll free or email us at [email protected].