If your church is like mine, it’s a busy place with weekly services, ministry events and many dedicated people working to build a welcoming and vibrant religious community. Even with the most dedicated administrators and volunteers, there are a lot of moving parts which can make effective communication difficult. At CalendarWiz, our 12 years of experience working with churches has provided insight into their goals. From our customers we hear the following:
- “Bring It All Together” – many find their schedules, calendars and email lists are scattered among personal computers, web pages and social media accounts with each group managing their own communication outlet. There is a need to gather these separate efforts into a common communication framework that reduces confusion and overall cost.
- “Increase Member Involvement” – getting people involved breathes life into a religious community. Outreach efforts need to understand the busy lives of members and the way they get information in today’s digital world. While the weekly bulletin still has its place, more and more, members are getting their information from the web, email and on smartphones. These new technologies open the door to two-way communication, allowing members to reply and suggest which increases involvement.
- “Better Manage Our Facilities” – on any given day there are multiple events using one or more church facility. Whether a regular service, baptism, youth night or committee meeting it’s important to avoid double booking of the same space and ensure appropriate coordination takes place with administration and building maintenance.
- “Make My Life Easier” – a common goal shared by church administrators, clergy and volunteers is to keep things simple, reduce workload and not be dependent on technical experts. Basically, everyone would prefer to spend their time serving rather than installing and updating software.
In the following sections we outline how to successfully implement CalendarWiz to help achieve these goals. As you read further, keep in mind your church’s own situation, knowing that you can start small and grow over time. As always, we at CalendarWiz are here to help.
Bringing It All Together
Churches find value in keeping one shared calendar for all church events. If your church currently has many different calendars, on paper, PDF, outlook or other programs, you are not alone. It’s likely that these calendars sprang up to fulfill a need, but over time have made it challenging to find out what’s going on. CalendarWiz provides a unified shared calendar that can be used by all contributors.
With CalendarWiz, you’ll have the flexibility to create separate categories for ministries, church events, religious education, and private schedules. Your calendar categories all roll up into one master view of “what’s going on” at your church.
Setting up your shared calendar can be as easy as the following steps:
Create Shared Calendar – Steps to Success
Categories help organize events in the calendar. Examples include Church Services, Religious Education, Ministries, …
Add and invite users who can login as either Administrator, Manager or Private Viewer. Website visitors can view any public category.
Add & Import Events
Easily add your events or you can import existing events from Outlook, Google, Excel, and other programs.
Success! – Start Sharing Your Calendar
Ready so share by sending your calendar link, on church website, tablet, smartphones, or feed into Google or Outlook
Once you are up and running any changes to the shared calendar are instantly viewable by other calendar users who have permission to view the event category.
Increasing Member Involvement
Keeping people connected through involvement in the church community is an essential ingredient for a vibrant church. Involvement is not limited to attendance at weekly services but extends to all of church life, from teaching religious education to committee membership, to wielding a hammer to repair the roof. Each time a person becomes involved it creates another thread in the fabric of the religious community.
CalendarWiz has three major features that can help build member involvement. Read below to learn how these features can help build an effective communications program:
Website Calendar and Plugins
Sharing events on your website is a simple, effective way to welcome new and existing members. One of the reasons my husband and I picked our church was because we saw a children’s mass followed by a coffee & doughnut shop on the website calendar. If visitors can see what’s going on at your church, they’ll know where and when they can join in.
CalendarWiz integrates seamlessly into church websites. Using cut and paste code, you can embed the full calendar, upcoming events list, or mini calendar into any web page. You can even theme the calendar and plugins to match a specific web page.
Your website calendar and upcoming events list automatically update each time you make a change. No more uploading PDFs or redundantly adding events in different systems. CalendarWiz is also easy to add to popular church website builders, like SquareSpace, Weebly, Cloversites, eCatholic, and others.
Churches find that their website calendar becomes one of the most visited pages on their website and serves as a valuable resource for building participation and membership.
Build Your Email List
For the church on a limited budget, email is a cost-effective way to reach out to your members. Most people are accustomed to receiving e-newsletters in their email inboxes and smartphones. The good news is that email to a list support comes built-into CalendarWiz. That means you can leverage calendar content and send event announcements and reminders for any event in your calendar to anyone in your email list.
You can import existing email lists and add a Join Our Email List form to your website to allow members to subscribe themselves. Emails can contain RSVP links so your members can confirm attendance with just a click. Responses go directly to the event coordinator for their event planning. You’ll also benefit from built-in email tools that improve email delivery rates, manage bad email addresses, and allow subscribers to unsubscribe, so you stay in compliance with the US CAN-SPAM Act.
There are many ways to use church email lists including e-newsletters, invitations to fund-raising events, and religious education updates. It’s easy to set up your email list and start sending emails. Here are the steps:
Build Your Email List – Steps to Success
Import Email Lists
Bring together email lists from address books and other programs
Add Sign-up Form
One click creates a ‘Join Our Email List’ button on your calendar so members can sign up themselves
Create Email Groups
Assign or import members to email groups so you can quickly send to selected lists. A member can be in more than one group but will not get duplicate emails
Design Email Template
Make your own template with your logo and colors or pick from our gallery of predefined templates
Success! – Send & Track Emails
Send emails to individuals, groups or the entire church. Track email opens and receive event RSVP’s
Engage With Social Media
Social Media offers a way to extend the reach of your calendar and website. With one click, your members can share church events with their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn friends. Add images to events to get your events noticed. You can also embed the CalendarWiz plugins into your existing Facebook page so your calendar events automatically flow into Facebook – another benefit to having a CalendarWiz shared calendar. The social media features are a great way to share events and generate enthusiasm and attendance.
Managing Church Facilities Schedules
Whether Sunday morning services, Wednesday night bible studies or a Saturday afternoon wedding – there is always something going on. This constant use of facilities requires coordination, planning and scheduling to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that proper setup and maintenance is performed. Church administrators love CalendarWiz’s location conflict prevention feature because it prevents double booking of facilities – a valuable feature when many people are reserving space.
Location features are integral to the calendar, allowing you to reserve a location for an event with just a click. While you’re reserving a room or facility, you can also include setup and breakdown instructions for your building manager in the private notes tab. Building managers can view private notes in calendar printouts or while logged into the calendar on their smartphone. Churches find that these location management features save time and streamline facility and room scheduling. Because locations are already available in your calendar, implementation can be accomplished in these easy steps:
Manage Church Facilities – Steps to Success
Enter locations to manage. For example: Chapel, Classrooms, Hall, Kitchen,… Each location can have details and usage guidelines.
Prevent Double Booking
Designate which locations should not allow more than one event at the same time.
Add Events with Location(s)
When adding events, choose one or more locations where the event occurs. Location information will automatically flow to the event.
Success! – Better Facility Management
You’re Ready to go – Toss out the paper signup sheets
Making Your Life Easier
Church staff and volunteers are busy people; and our goal is to make their day easier and more efficient. We know that not everyone is a “techie” and we work hard to make CalendarWiz intuitive and user-friendly for everyone.
- Sharing The Work: CalendarWiz can be setup to allow more than one person to contribute to the calendar. For some churches, it means only a church administrator and pastor can add events and others can submit events for approval. Other churches may choose to empower ministry leaders to manage their own ministry category and reduce the bottle-neck of one person performing all the updates.
- Consolidate Multiple Programs: Keep it simple and consolidate your internal calendar, website calendar, room/facility scheduling, and email list management into one place. Your staff will love having just one application to consult when checking conflicts and just one application to learn! Save time and money by consolidating your applications into CalendarWiz.
- Access From Office or Home: All your contributors have the flexibility of accessing the calendar from any computer, laptop, tablet or phone via your simple calendar link.
- No Install & Auto Update: Because CalendarWiz runs in the cloud, there is no need to install software on a server and updates appear automatically with no action required by you.
- First Class Backup & Reliability: Your calendar is a central part of your church and we take it seriously. With real-time database mirroring, 99.6% up time, and 24/7 monitoring, we’ve got you covered.
- Free Technical Support: If you do run into any issues or have questions, our support team is happy to help at firstname.lastname@example.org . We are here to guide your calendar setup and provide friendly tips along the way.
Deciding on a church calendaring solution can be hard and there are many options from which to choose. With over a decade of experience, CalendarWiz has learned to deliver a cost-effective solution that handles the specific needs of churches like yours. Below are answers to frequently asked questions on why CalendarWiz is the best calendar for your church.
Do we really need a new calendar?
Having a central calendar is essential to any effective church communications program because it contains the most dynamic elements of community activity. The first step in getting people involved is communicating opportunities for participation and service.
Why not use one of the free calendars?
This is a fair question because the budget is always a consideration for a church. Simply put, you get what you pay for. A free calendar will not provide the support or backup and recovery options that are important for an organization. In comparison, CalendarWiz is more than just a calendar; we are a communication and membership engagement tool with a sophisticated calendar at its core. We backup your calendar, room bookings, and email lists in real-time, with 24/7 monitoring. In addition to all that, you’ll receive fast, friendly support and setup help whenever you need it.
How long will it take to implement?
The secret to successful technology implementation is to deliver benefits in steps. With CalendarWiz you don’t need a big project that takes forever to deliver. You can have your shared calendar running very quickly, then expand into other built-in features like room booking and email broadcast when the time is right.
Will we need our own technical expert?
With our intuitive interface and free support, creating your church’s shared calendar can be accomplished by your office staff. You’ll find that our technical support team can handle just about any questions you may have. We are genuinely interested in helping you get the most out of CalendarWiz.