As a pastor who also builds and maintains websites, I frequently come across churches paying for services they could be receiving for free. Religious groups, considered non-profits, have access to many free or discounted services in the digital marketing space. Here are my top recommendations for (mostly) free digital services for churches.
Sign up for the Presbyterian Foundation’s online giving system, Vanco. This is the most cost-effective way to facilitate online giving for your worshiping community. There are no setup or monthly fees. You just pay a two percent administrative fee for all gifts received, and you can link directly to the giving portal from your website. The Presbyterian Foundation ensures processing and security.
Sign up for TechSoup — it’s free! TechSoup is a gateway to accessing cutting-edge technology software and products at affordable prices. To set up your account, you will need to produce your 501(c)(3) paperwork from the denomination and individual church. Once you do that, you can get great discounts on everything from popular software such as the Microsoft Office suite and Quickbooks licenses to hardware such as laptop and desktop computers. They also offer free “how to” courses with many products. Before I say something is too expensive for our church to afford, I always check TechSoup first; it has allowed churches to utilize technology at a reasonable cost while continuing to direct money towards ministry and mission.
Use Mailchimp for your church emailer. You can use the free version of Mailchimp for up to 2,000 contacts. So it is more than sufficient for a smaller church. Plus, Mailchimp subscribe forms can be easily integrated into most web platforms, allowing users to subscribe directly to your email list from your church website. Once you create an email template for your church newsletter, you can easily update it each week or month to send users your announcements and events. Mailchimp even creates a unique URL for each email content, making it easy to share.
Sign up for Google Workspace for Nonprofits for email, file storage, and unlimited online meetings. This is free for nonprofits. Simply apply for eligibility through Google by showing 501(c)(3) status and Google will offer you a free domain name supported through Gmail (firstname.lastname@example.org). A word to the wise: match your email domain name to your website, and keep it as simple as you can — the less required spelling the better! Google Workspace for Nonprofits also comes with 30 GB of storage per account user, free access to Google Meet (video meetings for up to 100 users), and security and management controls. A nonprofit Google account allows you to share documents easily (Google Drive), access data from anywhere (storage on the cloud), and share meetings (Google Calendar).
Sign up for a free Canva Pro account for online graphic editing. Again, by providing your non-profit paperwork, Canva offers a free pro account for churches, giving you access to all of their templates, stock icons and images. Even if you don’t have a creative bone in your body, Canva makes it easy to create images that look great on social media, bulletin covers, slide shows and websites. New sermon series? Simply search their images and create something eye-catching and informative in minutes.
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