Congregation Connect is a ChMS designed by Cloud4Good to run on the Salesforce platform. Salesforce is a worldwide, cloud-based software company known for its seemingly ubiquitous CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, which boasts a client list of massive, multinational corporations like Coca-Cola, Activision, and even Facebook.
Here’s a bit more about Salesforce:
[Video via YouTube]
I’ll explain the benefit of being built upon Salesforce later, but for now it’s safe to that because of this fact Congregation Connect is probably the largest ChMS I’ve ever seen.
Where “scope and scale” are concerned, Congregation Connect has got it covered. Because it’s built upon the Salesforce platform, CC is fully compatible with a whole host of other services/applications available through the Salesforce App Exchange, like QuickBooks along with integration with services like Gmail, MailChimp, DropBox, and Evernote. This is pretty sweet! I really like the ChMS that my church uses, but it doesn’t not have half of those options—and Salesforce offers even more!
What this means, then, is that CC is built upon a huge platform that will be constantly and consistently updated, while giving your church the same power as a multi-national corporation. Pretty sweet, yes?
Now, let’s talk about what I really like about Congregation Connect. First of all, let me say that I really like it’s interface. It reminds me a lot of the CRM I had to manage when I worked tech support in college, and while that CRM was annoying—built upon MS Access—now that I’ve used/toured a few different ChMS, I am missing a straightforward interface. Check out this video about the CC Class module.
[Video via Vimeo]
It might seem like a small deal to you, but I love that all of the options for the class are on one screen. “Click fatigue” is real, friend! Of course, the interface isn’t a plus simply because it’s straightforward; it’s a plus because it speaks to the universal simplicity of the Salesforce platform, designed to be used by all manner of people at all manner of corporate levels.
The Bad (But Not Really; It’s All Relative)
The biggest issue I see with CC is how it’s priced. I’m not saying that it’s too expensive. It’s not the numbers, just how they’re set up. First of all, your package is determined by the level of support you’d like and then the number of users you need. For “community” support, you’ll $20 per user. This level of support is essentially crowd-sourced, though access to CC’s official knowledge base is included. For “basic” support, which adds in more company-based support on top of the community level support, you’ll pay $30 per user, with a minimum of five users. The top level of support is “unlimited,” and this will cost $50 per user, with a minimum of ten users. To add a members’ portal wherein members can interact costs an additional $1100 annually (for up to 500 members), and there’s another $800 annual fee for unlimited forms along with a $100 monthly charge for QuickBooks integration. Of course, those extra fees are optional, and while these seem like big numbers, my church is paying $4000 a year for a system that charges based upon our average total attendance, so CC certainly isn’t priced out of the ballpark, especially when you consider the size and variety of options it offers.
To put this in perspective, If my church signed up for this system—based upon what we have available to us in our current ChMS—we would be paying an additional $500 to $1800. It’s difficult to nail down because the level of support we have is more than the community support but less than the basic support. Our costs would also be inflated because we have 11 users doing data entry, contributions, and other such tasks. You see, our ChMS Which Will Not Be Named is built with a different model in mind. Congregation Connect seems to be designed around a model that has the church staff doing all of the administrative work, which is fine if that’s the way you want to do it. This is how our old ChMS was set up. Our current ChMS however, is set up to empower the laity/delegate the menial tasks like attendance entry and such. In this system, every member is a potential user. While this system is better for us, it’s not for everyone. If you’ve got an efficient staff that can handle your database without parsing out responsibilities to others, then I think CC is a great option. I especially like the option of QuickBooks integration. We use QuickBooks for our accounting, but it’s not fully integrated into our ChMS, which does mean that we have a one more database/account to keep updated.
Congregation Connect look likes an incredibly powerful ChMS, and if my church hadn’t just switched over and sold out to our current ChMS, I’d have definitely been looking even deeper at CC to see what else it offers. That’s why I took on this review: to give you more options as your search for a ChMS, as you search for a system to make ministry easier. That’s what it’s all about: finding a solution that fits best for you.
If you’d like a bit of info about what the process of switching over to Congregation Connect looks like (time, tasks, etc.), then I suggest you watch this video. If you’d like more information in general, then head over to Congregation Connect’s website.