1. Slack for internal chat
Email is great for communications, but it can also be exhausting. Chat applications like Slack work so well because they remove the need for those quick internal emails. Slack is a phenomenal way to connect coworkers (even remotely), share resources, and limit the need for emails.
The beauty of Slack is the ability to create different channels for various groups or topics. Your church could create a volunteer channel, one for the marketing team, another for Sunday worship planning, and yet another focused around the latest local missions opportunities.
Although Slack may seem corporate, there are plenty of practical applications even in a ministry setting. Slack does offer a limited free version of their software, but it can get pricey based on the number of team members using it. Both Gmail and Microsoft Teams also have chat features, too.
2. Lastpass for password security
If you aren’t already, it’s time for your church to start taking cyber security seriously. It’s time to stop using the same, weak password for every online account. This begins with using strong passwords, and preferably a password manager like Lastpass.
There are plenty of benefits for a church to start adopting a password management tool. Not only do you decrease your vulnerability to being hacked, you also increase your ability to collaborate with your team. No more having to ask one another for passwords to certain online accounts. And no more worrying about a disgruntled volunteer leaving the church and taking the passwords with him.
Lastpass has a free option, but it recently became more limited in what features it offers. Lastpass doesn’t offer any nonprofit pricing, but a business plan is also only $4/user/month. Other password management options include 1Password and Dashlane.
3. Bit.ly for link shortening
Link shortening is a basic task when sharing URLs online. This cuts down on those lengthy web addresses, especially in social media content. It also gives you the opportunity to track how many people click on specific links.
Bitl.ly is just one of the more popular link shortening tools. Several social media scheduling tools like Buffer and Hootsuite have their own built into their platforms. When paired with Google UTM tracking codes, this makes it even more powerful for seeing what content is effective.
Bit.ly has a solid free plan and starts at $29 per month for a few added features like bulk link shortening and link redirects. There are also plenty of other link shortening options out there, including TinyURL and Short.io.
4. Calendly for scheduling meetings
How much time do you spend each week trading emails to schedule meetings? If you’re like most church leaders, the answer is too much. Especially considering that this is a task that could be easily automated with an online tool.
Automatic scheduling tools like Calendly take the guesswork out of scheduling meetings. They connect to your online calendar and show others when you’re available to meet. They’ll also send out calendar invites for you, and even include a Zoom link when you want.
Calendly has a limited free option, as well as special pricing for “qualified nonprofit organizations.” X.ai and Doodle are among the best alternatives to Calendly. Some CRM platforms like HubSpot also have their own built-in calendar tools.
5. Evernote for notes
What do you do with all of the great ideas you have for your church? These ideas probably get scattered across emails, documents, or random scraps of paper and sticky notes. But in that case, too many ideas get lost or can’t be found when you need them.
Adopting a note taking app like Evernote helps organize all of these thoughts into a central place. Even better, an online tool allows you to share and collaborate with the rest of the church’s leadership. Get those ideas out of your head and into a place where they can start doing good.
Like many of these tools, Evernote has a decent free option and even offers nonprofit discounts to qualifying 501c3 organizations. But Evernote is far from the only note taking app out there. A seemingly endless list of these apps range in features and pricing. If you’re looking for an option, your church could also consider Notion as a helpful documentation hub.
6. Grammarly for editing
Raise your hand if your church has that person who constantly catches the errors and spelling mistakes in your weekly bulletin. You know the best way to deal with them? Make less errors and spelling mistakes in your bulletin—and everywhere else for that matter.
Most text processors like Word and Google Docs have built-in proofreaders, but those often miss things. Grammarly takes your editing to the next level. It catches even more mistakes before they’re noticed by the congregation.
Grammarly has a free plan and a nonprofit discount for their premium plan. There are even more helpful writing apps that churches can check out, including Hemmingway and After The Deadline. It may even be a good habit to use multiple of these tools to filter out any mistakes.
7. Zapier for automation
Automation is a popular buzzword, but it’s also a time-saving practice for many of the administrative processes you handle repeatedly. If you’re trying to connect two different online platforms together, look no further than Zapier.
Zapier essentially uses If/Then statements to do automatic tasks for you. For example, when someone unsubscribes from your email list in Mailchimp, Zapier could mark them as unsubscribed in your church management system. There are nearly endless examples of how it can be used.
Your church can set up five of these automation “zaps” for free. Automating more tasks requires a paid account, but you can apply for a 15% discount as a nonprofit. Or you can take a look at automation alternatives like IFTT and Integrately.
8. Feedly for reading content
How many blogs or email newsletters do you check every week? That number likely isn’t high because who has the time to visit a dozen different sites and check for updates? An RSS feed reader makes that process much simpler and gives you the power to absorb more content, more quickly.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication—which essentially allows you to subscribe to blogs or newsletters and consume them all in one place. Feedly is among the best RSS feed readers available. Others include Feeder and The Old Reader.
One of the advantages of an RSS reader is the ability to quickly collect different resources to share through your church’s social media or email marketing. If you’re a preacher, you can also get updated on some sermon research from one place.
Which of these tools does your church currently need the most?