UPDATE Sept 7, 2011 – I get lots of hits on this post because there are very few real reviews of ChMS systems on the web. I still use CCB and at this time don’t plan to switch. When I have some time I will post a new review. I have not found another system that is easier or less money. This does what I want. Don’t avoid CCB because of this article. If you have actual questions, drop me a note. I will try my best to answer them. I just don’t want to cost CCB business because this is one of the few real reviews.
update 8/26/2010: I have since updated my processes. I am now able to generate a csv file that I do a mailmerge through Word to do my mailings. I honestly don’t know how hard it is to incorporate an online document editor so I don’t hold this against the software. Though you would think it could incorporate Word like Quick Books can do.
Now, as far as the pathetic email editor. . . I currently export all email addressed and import it to Vertical Response to do my mailings. Again, not the simplest process but it works.
August 11, 2010: For those who have followed this blog, you know that I had been looking for a decent church management software solution and in the end went with Church Community Builder. Time and again I feel like that was not the best decision. When I compare it with other solutions, I honestly don’t know if one is better than the other. And for all the reviews that I read online, here are some of the key things I wish I had known before I bought.
- <– see that bullet? You want one on a letter? Too bad. In fact, though Church Community Builder talks about how you can create processes and mail merge a letter to folks, you can’t format that letter beyond the return and space key. So do you use tabs in your letter? Not anymore. Bullets? Leave them at home. Don’t want your correspondence looking like a form letter? Too bad, recipient address goes at the top whether you like it or not. Want to address an envelope? Better do it by hand. The closest you will get is a mailing label. Want any kind of graphic? You would need to draw it in by hand. Hope that letter is going to be printed on stationary because you cant just throw your header image and print on a color printer.
- The email client lacks any tracking. None. Nada. And it is not possible for folks to sign up for your email without completing a form and you adding them to the system after you get the email form. So you have no idea how many folks read, or even received the email. The basic functionality of constant contact or vertical response.
- Speaking of email. You better know html because there is not any email formatting beyond what you see on your keypad. With all the open source rich html editors none are in the system.
- Another key option I was looking for was an ability for people to sign up for a connection group from my website. I thought I specifically asked that question and was told folks could. Nope. You can search for a group. But that’s it.
- I love the financial tracking. But I can’t justify the cost for that one function.
As much as it pains me to say this, I am now going to look and see what it would take to switch to another ChMS. I know there would be a hefty fee but I am not sure if I can justify throwing good money after bad.
If your church wants folks to be able to look at stuff online, CCB might be great. If you want to do anything with that information then it might not be the best solution.