Love them or hate them the Green Bay Packers are unique. How so? Many people don’t realize it but the Packs are the only publicly owned non-profit team in the NFL. In the truest sense they are owned by their fans.
So how does this relate to Church Management Systems? Simple… there’s a new player in town, one that also is a non-profit, and while not technically owned by its fans (only 4 states allow a non-profit to sell shares), views its community of churches as owners. Last year the Spark Development Network completed a four-year journey to release a feature-rich open-source (read: free) Relationship Management System (ChMS) named Rock RMS. While its technology and features are best-of-breed, what really makes it stand out is its vision of openness.
While established players turn inward and limit the choices of churches, especially in the area of giving, Rock has become an innovation platform for churches and partners to extend and collaborate. How is this done? While Rock is a full-featured ChMS and CMS out of the box, it’s also a rich development toolkit that allows churches to rapidly build new ideas. Once these ideas have been tested and refined they can be easily shared through an in-app store that allows for simple one-click installs.
To increase openness any vendor is welcome to integrate their services and distribute them through the same store. Several giving platforms are already supported, with more currently in development.
Spark has also built rich community tools like Q&A, Slack, and even a yearly conference. Using these tools, individuals not only share technology tips, but also best practices.
While Rock is available for free for you to host yourself, several companies have built offerings around it to provide managed hosting, implementation and support services. This combination of self-empowerment and managed services has made Rock successful at churches ranging in size from 200-35,000 in weekly attendance.
So how does Spark get the resources to develop this free platform? A large majority of the funding comes from donations from the community of fans. In an example of “raving fans,” many community members give personal donations in addition to those from their organizations.
So put on your cleats and come join the revolution of openness.