With so many church app and giving providers on the market claiming to offer the best product, it can be hard to know which platform is the right fit for your ministry. There are essential questions to ask as you set out to find a solution that fits the needs of your church. If you are shopping for a mobile engagement platform, these questions will help you narrow your search:
Question #1 -Do you have a native media player inside your apps?
Many providers put media in their apps by linking to a third-party media vendor (such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Soundcloud). This means that if something goes wrong with your media hosting, you have to reach out to a third-party company to handle the issue. Additionally, web-based media players are usually slower to load, not as easy to interact with, and drain more battery life and data from a user’s phone. Why? Because they were created to be used on the web, not inside a native app. If you want your users to have the best mobile experience, pasting those web-based solutions into your app will not be the answer. A native media player gives your users significantly more flexibility, which keeps them coming back to your app, which will help boost engagement in your church.
Question #2 – Do you offer unlimited tech support with every package?
As a ministry leader, you probably have a pretty full schedule. There is no reason why you should have to spend hours learning a new system or updating your app every week. A good support team will help alleviate that burden and make the setup process an easy one. You’ll want to make sure that unlimited phone and email support is included with any app package you are considering. If it isn’t, you could be setting yourself up for future frustration.
Question #3 – What engagement tools do you offer?
If you are looking into getting an app for your church, it is probably because you want to use it as a discipleship tool. Make sure to ask every provider what kind of engagement features they offer, and how each of those tools can be used to help your congregation on their discipleship journey. A few foundational features you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for are one-click media publishing with the native media player like we mentioned above, user accounts, group push notifications, events, custom Bible reading plans, connect forms, ChMS integrations, digital bulletins, and an easy sharing experience.
Question #4 – Who builds your platform?
Believe it or not, many companies simply white-label other app platforms. This may not sound like a huge deal, but when you purchase an app from a company that is reselling another company’s software, you simply aren’t going to get the same support, updates, or new features as you would from an in-house platform. Companies that white-label other platforms have limited control over what they are able to build for you, simply because it is not their own software. A company that builds their own software and has a good track record of adding new features will be able to serve your ministry best.
Question #5 – What is your effective rate for online and mobile giving?
Any giving provider you talk to should (hopefully) be transparent about their processing rates, but they may not go into much detail about their effective rates. It is extremely important to get as much detail about this as possible. What exactly does “effective rate” mean? Glad you asked! Your effective rate is going to be the total percentage of money that the giving provider (and any third-party service involved with the transaction) is taking from every donation. In addition to standard processing fees, many companies charge hidden fees that impact each transaction and leave your ministry with less money. You will want to ask each provider, “If John donates $100 to our church with his debit card, how much of that $100 will end up in our bank account after all fees are taken out?” The answer will determine your effective rate.
Question #6 – What is your pricing structure?
Some companies determine their pricing based on your church’s size and budget. This means that a church with an annual budget of $1,000,000 could end up paying more than a church with an annual budget $100,000 for the exact same product and features. There is no reason why your church should have to pay more money for the same product simply because your budget is bigger. Ask each company if you can see a specific breakdown of their pricing levels and what they offer with each different package. Here is a free ebook detailing the complete list of questions to ask your app provider.
There are many more good questions to ask your app provider, but we didn’t want to keep you here all day. Good news, though, if you would like the complete list of questions to ask, here’s a helpful free ebook on the topic.