Not all churches are willing to or can afford to purchase church accounting software. Having a comprehensive accounting software tailor-fit for a church’s needs does cost money. A church may be interested in having one but could be under some circumstances that prevent it from buying the said software. Conducting a search over the Internet yielded a discovery – there is accounting software for churches that can be downloaded for free! However, in this day and age, anything that comes with a “free” tag line should be thoroughly investigated before one jumps in and take advantage of this gift from heaven; more appropriately, from an apparently generous software developer.
Basically, the advantage one gets from a free accounting software for churches is that it doesn’t cost anything. The church and its ministry can take advantage of the convenience of having an automated system to keep track of its finances without paying for anything. This is especially helpful for parishes that have the need for fund accounting software but do not have enough funds to pay for one.
It is quite disheartening to report though that the disadvantages of free church accounting software are more than the one advantage I can think of (they are free). First, in doing the search itself, some results that come up from typing “free church accounting software” just offer links to sites that offer free demo versions. As we all know, demo versions are trial versions of something that is for sale and the free use of which is only for a limited period.
If one searches hard enough, there are honest to goodness free fund accounting software for churches that can be downloaded at no cost at all. However, there are two things that can happen. First, is that the software is only capable of tracking a limited amount of entries. This is good if your church has only a few members. This software is actually a type of trial or demo version that doesn’t have a time limit. The downside though is that it has very basic and limited features. Availing of the extra features that would make the software really work for you means having to buy the full version.
Free software with unlimited entry capabilities are available though. However, herein lies the second disadvantage – with using the software comes the burden of having to deal with advertisements. Using a positive thinking approach, this can be viewed as less than of a disadvantage but more as a trade-off. Meaning, the cost of the software is having to deal with advertisements on the computer screen instead of money.
Creative church leaders and members should not dwell though on the limited advantage and cumbersome disadvantages of free software for their church. If limited funds is the main reason, a church can still get the church accounting software that will fit its needs perfectly without having to cost a lot. One thing to do is to hold a fund-raiser. Another alternative is there is a possibility of a church member who has programming skills. This person can donate his talent and time to the church with the help of other members make the software from scratch. If no such person exists in the congregation, the church treasurer or accounting person can refer to websites that give free instructions on how to make spreadsheets. This is not at the same level as having an accounting software but it will semi-automate the church’s financial records and provide a bit of convenience. For free.