When it comes to church management software (ChMS), church leaders have a wide variety of options available. If you’re in the market for a new ChMS tool, one of the tools you’ve likely heard of is FellowshipOne. In this review, I’d like to provide you with a brief history of the company along with an overview of its features.

Editor’s Note: While I did not have access to a demo version of F1, the F1 team walked me through an extensive (3-hour) demo and answered my long list of questions.

Overview of FellowshipOne

FellowshipOne started in 2004 as the first cloud-based SAAS (software as a service) solution along with children’s check-in. In 2011, ACTIVE Network purchased FellowshipOne. ACTIVE Network sold FellowshipOne to Ministry Brands in 2016.

As Active Network’s main focus wasn’t on the church market, FellowshipOne may not have received the attention and development customers wanted. Ministry Brands is focused on, well, ministry, so they’re investing in the enhancement of FellowshipOne. In talking with FellowshipOne’s General Manager, Scott Goodger, he stated:

We’re starting to sink more resources, time, and effort into adding features, revamping the user interface. We view this as our ministry and believe in the product we offer despite the turmoil we’ve been through the last few years.”

Scott Goodger mentioned they released a round of improvements in December 2018 and a second round in January 2019. They hope to complete a new look and feel for the entire product within the next six to nine months.

Benefits & Features of FellowshipOne

Home Screen

When a user first logs into FellowshipOne, they’ll see a user dashboard that includes a section called “My Tasks,” “Today’s Activities,” and “News & Announcements.”

My Tasks includes tasks assigned to the user that is logged into FellowshipOne. These tasks could include following up with a first-time guest, contacting an individual interested in volunteering, and more. Users receive these task assignments through the workflows set up within FellowshipOne (these workflows are customizable).

Today’s Activities may include meetings or events scheduled for that day.

The News and Announcements section is typically used for internal staff communication.

People

The People aspect of FellowshipOne is at the heart of the database and all functions within the software. When you click on the “People” menu option and search for an individual, the system pulls up that person’s profile.

A profile may include the following elements:

  • Household – Names of that individual’s spouse and children, if applicable
  • Involvement – Attendance and volunteer assignments
  • Addresses – Mailing/home address
  • Communication – Phone numbers and email addresses
  • Groups – Any groups this individual belongs to (small groups, Sunday School classes, etc.)
  • Notes – This section can be used for various Note types such as General Notes or Kids Notes. The types of notes are customizable and can be locked down based on user security. Notes include a date, timestamp, and which user entered the note.
  • Contact Items – This section can include information such as first visits, becoming a Christian, and more.
  • Milestone tracking – Churches can enter key milestones for people includes baptisms, when an individual started serving, when he/she attended a new membership class, etc.
  • Volunteer requirements – Church leaders can use FellowshipOne to initiate and track background checks, reference checks, include drivers license information, and more as needed.

Check-In

While we typically think of checking in children first with any check-in system, FellowshipOne provides the capability to use check-in for children, volunteers, events, groups/classes, and other functions.

There are three types of check-in with FellowshipOne:

  1. Assisted Check-in – This would include a volunteer-manned check-in station mostly to help first-time guests add their information to the system and get checked in.
  2. Self Check-in – Returning families or individuals can check themselves in.
  3. My Check-in – Before they get to church, users can check themselves in using the My Check-in app. Once they arrive, they’ll scan the QR code from the app at a check-in station and the system will print the appropriate nametags.

Check-in includes the options to add allergy information, pictures, and other notes that are automatically added to the individual’s profile with FellowshipOne. Parents can also print an Item/Asset Tag for diaper bags or other items if needed.

Check-in includes two applications or views:

  • Teacher Application – Let’s say you’re a teacher in one of the children’s classrooms. You can log into the Teacher Application to view a list of all the children who’ve been checked into your classroom including any allergy information and who is authorized to pick up each child. You can also check each child’s name on the list who is actually in your classroom and check that each child was picked up after service.
  • Coordinator Application – All information about the number of children checked into each classroom along with volunteers checked into each room flows up to the Coordinator Application. As a Coordinator, you can view a dashboard within the application to see if you’re getting close to the capacity you’ve set for a particular classroom, move volunteers from one room to another to balance your adult to children ratio, etc. You can use the Coordinator Application for volunteer coordinators in addition to overseeing children’s areas.

Groups

According to the MinistryBrands team, the goal of the Groups functionality is to empower small group leaders to manage the people they’re connecting within their groups. This aspect of FellowshipOne includes the following capabilities:

Group Search

Churches can add a group search page to their church website that is connected to FellowshipOne. This allows people to look for a group based on custom search categories such as zip code, whether children are welcome at group meetings, and more. They can then view results in a list format or on a map view. The searcher can click on a group to view more details and then complete an online form to express interest. The system routes the information from that form to that small group leader as an email notification and as a task. A small groups pastor can view this information as well within the Groups menu option.

Member Management

Small group leaders can follow up with those who’ve expressed interest in the group. They can also record and view attendance for their group.

Ministry

The Ministry area of FellowshipOne is for setting up and managing categories of church involvement. This includes creating various children’s classrooms for childcare and volunteer check-in, volunteer areas (parking lot, greeters, childcare, ushers, etc.), and more.

You can also email volunteers based on their role from within the Ministry area.

Weblink/Infellowship

Infellowship is the bridge that connects a church’s website to FellowshipOne. Let’s say Joe Smith starts using online giving and creates an account to set up recurring tithes. Now that Joe has an account in FellowshipOne, he can log in from the church website to view his donor statement, register for an event, signup to volunteer, or update his payment information. From a church member standpoint, it doesn’t look like you’re logging into FellowshipOne. Church members simply click a link on the church’s website to log in and view the information on their account.

Volunteer

Within the Volunteer area, administrators can create online volunteer applications and have them displayed on the church website so people can sign up to serve. The process of creating a new volunteer application is made easier by clicking on a footstep icon that walks you through the setup process. You can specify which staff member will receive a task to follow up with completed applications. For an additional fee, churches can use another member of the Ministry Brand suite, Protect My Ministry, to process background checks.

Giving

FellowshipOne’s Giving functionality includes the options to process online donations (ACH and credit/debit cards) plus text giving. The Giving area is also capable of recording checks and cash with the option to use a check scanner for less data entry. Giving also has the option for remote deposit capture for checks.

With Online Giving, people can give with or without creating an account in FellowshipOne. For those who do create an account, they can download giving statements, schedule recurring donations, and give to specific funds. Giving also includes the option for donors to cover the fees of giving transactions.

Within FellowshipOne, those with the appropriate access rights can view donor records. Total tithes and offerings for a given Sunday can be recorded to the general ledger automatically when the church takes advantage of the integration FellowshipOne has with Shelby Financials.

Admin

The Admin section is where the church administrator would set up the structure for FellowshipOne users including which user has access to what type of information or functionality within FellowshipOne.

Reports

FellowshipOne comes with a standard report library. Users can export reports into PDF or Excel formats. The F1 Premier edition comes with a tool called Insights, a dashboard reporting feature.  Churches can create custom dashboards, including a separate one for each campus if needed.

ServiceU

ServiceU is scheduling software included with the Premier version of FellowshipOne. With ServiceU, event coordinators can reserve various resources (rooms and equipment), request catering and audio/visual setup, etc.

Financials

FellowshipOne on its own does not include an accounting function (general ledger, fund accounting, etc.). However, it does integrate with Shelby Financials. When recording donations in FellowshipOne, the user can select a menu option within FellowshipOne to sync contributions with Shelby Financials.

In my discussion with Ministry Brands (the company that owns both FellowshipOne and Shelby Financials), they plan to introduce single sign-on for Ministry Brands later in 2019.

Workflow & Usability of FellowshipOne

In going through a demo of FellowshipOne, the user interface and workflow seems fairly straightforward. As with all ChMS tools, proper setup and training are crucial for a successful implementation of FellowshipOne. This ChMS tool has a great deal of functionality – so much so that even administrators could get lost in the details without a solid implementation plan.

Before trying to set up the software, it’s best to document processes such as what happens when a first-time guest provides their contact information or someone completes an online volunteer application. From there, an administrator can set up those workflows within FellowshipOne and train others on how to use that functionality.

User Satisfaction & Comments

FellowshipOne has an overall 3.5 out of 5-star rating at Capterra. Reviews of FellowshipOne on Capterra tend to mention the robust nature of the software. However, many reviews also include complaints about usability (or the lack thereof). Some of those reviews mention that additional training might help alleviate the issue. It’s unclear how much of the usability issue is due to a lack of training and proper setup, issues with the user interface, or a combination.

Support

FellowshipOne offers a variety of support options. Their Professional Services team is available to help churches get up and running on FellowshipOne as quickly as possible. Once a church is set up, they can contact the support team via phone, email, or from within FellowshipOne. Live support is available from 7am-7pm CST plus on-call as needed (including weekends).

The FellowshipOne Academy is a website with online training courses that users can take on-demand.

Another support option is the FellowshipOne Community. Churches can join an F1 Group and connect with other FellowshipOne users (including F1 Groups that meet in their area). Users can attend F1 Conferences or participate in online F1 Forums.

Technology Details/Specifications

FellowshipOne is a cloud-based tool, so it will work on PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. There’s no hardware to install.

For children’s check-in, you will need special printers to print nametags and labels. FellowshipOne is compatible with the following printers:

Windows Check-in

  • Zebra GK-420d
  • Zebra GX-420d
  • Godex DT-4
  • Zebra QLn320 Hip Printer

iOS Check-in

  • Zebra ZQ510
  • Zebra Qln320
  • Zebra GK-420d
  • Zebra GX-420d
  • Zebra ZD410 (BT Compatible)
  • Zebra ZD420 (BT Compatible)

Pricing Details

FellowshipOne Select

This edition of F1 is a lower cost option for churches. Church leaders who don’t yet need all the functionality of the Premier edition can start with Select and upgrade to the Premier version when needed.  Pricing for the Select edition is based on worship attendance and starts at $349 per month.

FellowshipOne Premier

This version includes everything in Select plus:

  • Teacher Application
  • Coordinator Application
  • My Check-in App
  • Remote Deposit Capture
  • Insights
  • ServiceU

The Premier version is also based on worship attendance. Pricing starts at $449 per month and goes up based on ranges of attendance.

Conclusion

FellowshipOne has the functionality most churches are looking for in a ChMS solution. They went through a period of transition going from one parent company to another in recent years which may have impacted their services. However, it seems that things are on track for continued enhancements and product development under the Ministry Brands organization. This bodes well for current and future customers as they seek to leverage FellowshipOne to support ministry efforts.