Most churches run in a very similar format to a lot of businesses and having the right accounting software is imperative. We’re going to look at the best church accounting software on the market right now and highlight some platforms that can work for your ministry.
One of the questions that we often get asked is how to choose a platform that is specific to the church. We’re going to address why we’ve chosen the programs that we have a little later, but the short answer is to track things like donations and process non-profit business features.
Best Church Accounting Software for 2022
The list below highlights what we think are the best church accounting software. This is a list that is going to keep changing as new products and new features in existing products continue to come to the foray.
- QuickBooks – Best overall church accounting software
- PowerChurch – Best for tracking membership management and donations
- Aplos – Best cloud-based accounting software for churches
- Realm – Best value church accounting software
- Freshbooks – Best for tracking donations
- Sage – Great all-round accounting software
- Xero – One of the biggest and most reputable accounting platforms
- FellowshipOne – Dedicated church accounting platform
- Wave – Excellent option for budgeting and forecasting
- Church Windows – Great budget option for church accounting software
Best Church Accounting Software Compared
We’ve taken what we consider to be the best church accounting software and provided you with in-depth reviews as to why they rank where they do. We want to add that, even though they are listed from one through ten, what might be the best one for one church, might not be for another.
So, take a little bit of time to read through each review and try to determine which software best fits. All of them have some sort of link to the main practices that you need in a ministry but differ in the way that each performs.
1. QuickBooks – Best Overall Church Accounting Software
QuickBooks is one of the biggest and most popular accounting software on the market. It’s an easy recommendation based on this alone, but we want to dive a little deeper and recommend the “Premier” platform that they offer.
You will find that the standard online version is cloud-based, but Premier is not. You lose the functionality of not being able to access this while on the go, but you gain a lot more, especially for churches.
The main benefit is the inclusion of doing accounts for nonprofit businesses. Ministries and churches fall into this bracket which means that you’re able to quickly and effectively create accounts that are designed specifically for this.
Another feature that you’re going to want to take advantage of is the donor function. This allows you to mark income from donors and you can even generate end-of-year statements based on this alone.
The only issue that we have with this is that, it’s designed more for smaller churches and larger ones may find it a little limiting. However, there is a workaround for this and that comes under the umbrella of Breeze.
Breeze is an addon that you can use with QuickBooks and it allows you to access a range of features that the basic package does not. These include things like managing volunteers, email campaigns, events and online giving. It then moves this date into QuickBooks and files it under the appropriate sections.
QuickBooks Premier starts from $549 per year, with no option to split this off into monthly payments. You only get one user with this and additional users are $300 each. However, you only need one user for an organization that multiple people can access, so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
There is a larger package that can be accessed which is Enterprise and prices for this start from $938 per year. You get extra users, higher capacity, more report templates, priority customer service and several other features that are more suitable for larger churches.
- Great for nonprofit businesses like churches
- Use of the Premier version is best for churches over the online version
- Ability to add donors to financial sheets
- Lots of addons that make it ideal for any expansion
- Expensive for smaller churches
- Lack of cloud-based data
2. PowerChurch – Best for Tracking Membership Management and Donations
PowerChurch is unique as it’s one of few platforms that have been set up and designed to work directly with churches. It’s been around since 1984 and to be honest, little has changed in terms of how it looks, but it works exceptionally well.
There are two versions; one is online and the other is a downloadable program. Where it gets one over on QuickBooks is that both platforms are the same and they link into each other. This means you can have one in the office and then also access the same product while on the go.
The software can track everything you would need for church day-to-day businesses. This includes member status, donations, and income/expenditure, and it also tracks where money can be saved via taxes.
It comes with several add-ons that you can use to beef up the initial platform a little. Email marketing is one and we were also impressed with the inclusion of membership management options. If your church or minister is one that is growing, these might be things you’re already paying for and want to bundle into a single package.
Pricing for PowerChurch is a one-off fee of $395 for the download product or $415 for the physical media (CD). While it is not a free accounting software, you have the option to upgrade existing platforms if you’re using the free or trial products for a $159 fee. It’s worth noting there are no subscriptions here which makes it incredible value for money.
- Great value for money over monthly packages
- Huge range of add-ons that make it future proof for growing churches
- The Online and download version makes it very versatile
- Dedicated software that includes features for payroll, donations, gifts, membership accounting and more
- Dated design
- A steep learning curve, mainly due to dated design
3. Aplos – Best Cloud-based Accounting Software for Churches
Aplos is one of several cloud-based accounting software that has been designed especially for use within the church. In fact, it’s so tuned into the process that the creator of Aplos was a former pastor, so they know what is needed to keep things ticking.
A highlight of the platform is the value for money you get, which we talk about next, but on top of that, it’s perfect for smaller churches that are looking to grow. For an established, large church we would probably agree that there are better options, but Aplos will cater extremely well to those with fewer needs.
The platform is one of the better-looking ones we have tested and is very easy to use. If you’ve someone in-house that is even the slightest bit familiar with general accounting software, then the transition will be seamless. If the church is starting from scratch, the Aplos includes a ton of tutorial videos to get started with a very shallow learning curve.
There aren’t that many negatives, to be honest, but it does lack the addition of any payroll services. You can add these on using Gusto, but there are additional costs that come with that.
You can get Aplos for as little as $39.50/month, which is about as cheap as you’re going to find for a system of this calibre. You can upgrade packages easily to the likes of Aplos Core and Core +, and as you would expect, you simply get more of everything that you do in the Lite version.
It’s also worth pointing out that if you pay for 12 months upfront you get 10% off. We would highly recommend that you try it for a month to see if works for your church and then if so, jump into the 12-month contract.
- Access to funding accounting, donation tracking, online giving forms and giving reports
- Great value for money and the ability to pay by the month instead of just 12 months (although cheaper paying by 12 months)
- Created by former Pastor
- Very easy to use and shallow learning curve
- Limited in terms of how far you can take it
- Need addons for a lot of additional features which adds to costs
4. Realm – Best Value Church Accounting Software
Realm is a little more lightweight than some of the products that we’ve already spoken about. If you’re looking for basic accounting software that works great with churches and nonprofits, then Realm is likely going to be worth a go.
The platform is one of the better-looking ones we’ve used, and even though it may be lacking in features compared to some, it’s very easy to use and links well to both UK and US accounting software.
One of its biggest features is that of its customer service team, which has won awards for its work within the industry. Given that most churches are likely going to have teams that are new to any sort of accounting software, this is a huge bonus and a feature that should not be overlooked.
You need to contact Realm directly to get a quote, but we can tell you that pricing starts from as little as $29/month. This gives you basic, single-user access and will be enough for most people using this platform. As you start to add users and features, the price will rise.
- Very easy to use with a shallow learning curve
- One of the best customer support teams in the business
- Easy to generate analytics on account performances
- Lots of church-related features such as nonprofit accounts and donors
- Good value for money for the base package
- Can feel lightweight compared to the competition
- Lacks integrated features
5. FreshBooks – Best for Donation and Membership Tracking
FreshBooks aren’t necessarily a dedicated accounting software for a church, but they are one of the biggest around and you could absolutely adapt this to any business, including a nonprofit. What you get with FreshBooks is a massive support bubble, not just from the company, but also from dedicated forums and websites, meaning you can’t go wrong.
We really liked that you could link bank accounts and make reporting very simple. There’s an option to make it track donations as well as income, although we must admit it’s not as reliable as we would like it to be.
FreshBooks is one of the easiest platforms to use and if we had to give a single recommendation purely on ease of use, this would likely be it. There are better options out there for churches, such as QuickBooks for example, but FreshBooks is, without doubt, one of the best in class for the money that you will pay.
Speaking of money, prices at FreshBooks start from just $15 or $180 billed annually. This is the cheapest version that we’ve included on our list and with this, you get 5 billable clients, custom invoices, automated bank import and access to donations.
You can, of course, significantly increase these costs as you move up the tiers. Premium starts from $50 per month and with this, you get access to email and project profitability, both useful for churches.
- Very easy to use
- Huge support network both within the company and externally
- Good value for money for the base package
- Access to link bank accounts to FreshBooks and teach it to highlight when donations come in
- Not as concentrated around the needs of a church
What is Church Accounting Software?
Church accounting software is used to track accounts that are generated for a church. Just like a standard business would need, a church is required to keep detailed accounts of money that comes in and goes out, which the software will track for them.
In terms of a “business”, a church is classed as a nonprofit organization. This means that they bring money in and any money that is left over after expenses is paid out to charitable organizations or paid back into the local community somehow.
It’s possible for a church to use pretty much any accounting software they want. They all work in a very similar manner and are essentially all part of the same platform.
However, dedicated software that has been designed to work with a church is always going to be preferable as it will include features that are needed for the day-to-day running of a church.
A great example of this is donations. Donations will make up most of the income generated by a church, just as sales would in a shop. Most standard bits of accounting software will not cater to donations, so the workaround would be to enter this as income on the software and then adjust it as donations when it comes to inputting accounts.
The best church accounting software will do all this automatically. We’ve mentioned several programs on this page and to be honest, they all have their own merits.
How does Church Accounting Software Work?
For the most part, church accounting software works in much the same way that a “standard” accountancy package would. The basic concept is that it tracks money coming in and then money coming out. It then creates a profit and loss account based on this before giving you the tools to submit this to whichever financial governing body needs to see it.
It’s obviously a lot more technical than this and there are lots of moving parts as a result. Let’s run through a quick example of how church accounting software might work.
Let’s assume that we’ve signed up with QuickBooks Premier, which we have voted as the best church accounting software on the market right now.
QuickBooks will guide us through the setup and allow us to link our church bank accounts to their software. Once you do this for the first time, it will import previous statements up to a timeframe that you pick.
After the initial link, the software will continue to track the accounts. Any money that goes in or out will be entered into their software and this then allows the church to keep track of what’s going on.
What the software does well creates reports. These reports are important to not only see what areas of the business (in this case, nonprofit churches) make the most money and what areas use the most money. QuickBooks will even create suggestions about what areas can be improved.
One of the key areas that church accounting software needs to target is donations. Most of the money that comes in will be donations and this needs to be presented differently than income from purchases and invoices as it won’t need to be taxed.
What a platform like QuickBooks will do is know that you’ve got a nonprofit (as you will have told it when you set it up) and then create accounts for tax purposes based on this. You can even link your software to tax accounts such as HMRC and instantly upload your accounts this way.
What are the Advantages of Using Church Accounting Software?
There are many reasons why you might want to choose dedicated church accounting software over more generic brands. We’ve outlined some of these below:
- Ease of use – Generally dedicated church accounting software is easier to use. This is because there is less likelihood that dedicated finance teams will be running the programs, so if you make them too intense, they won’t function as well.
- Dedicated features – Most have dedicated features that few organizations would need. These include things like donation tracking and membership databases. Almost all of a church’s income comes from these two revenue streams whereas a for-profit business likely has zero.
- Lower costs – Churches often have limited funds for things like accounting software and you tend to find the dedicated platforms are reflective of this. For example, you can get started for as little as $15 per month and you’d be looking at a double this amount for most larger platforms.
- Direct accounting – Most software will link to government accounts, such as HMRC which allows you to upload accounts directly through them. This saves a huge amount of time and removes the need for a dedicated accountant.
Conclusion – What is the Best Church Accounting Software
The best church accounting software on the market right now is QuickBooks. There are two versions of QuickBooks that you can use, but the Premier version is the one we would pick.
It’s not the cheapest at around $50/month, but in terms of features, it can’t be matched. Its ability to track and sort both donations and memberships is the main draw for churches. It’s very easy to use and there is tons of support for new and existing users to get more efficient.