If you're switching from a church management software besides FellowshipOne, CCB, Elexio, or The City, we will get started with Planning Center by walking you through how to create an account and add people! We will also provide resources for how to choose which applications to start with first.
Learn about each app with a one-hour training
Planning Center is made up of seven applications, and they all work together to make up one ChMS. Click this link to see our Co-Founder talk about how all the apps work together.
The first step to getting your church organized is to sign up for a Planning Center account. Select Sign Up on https://planning.center to begin choosing the apps that fit your church best.
Like other church management software (ChMS), we break down our pricing by people; however, unlike other ChMS, we won't ask you to sign up for features you won't use. Look over the applications we offer and check the ones you want to try by using our preset plans or by using the arrows to find a plan that fits your church.
You get a free 30-day trial of each app, so you don't have to try all of them at once. Choose only the applications you want to try in the first 30 days. If you want to try other applications in the future, you can sign up for the 30-day trial on your Apps Page.
Once you've chosen the applications you want to try, add the account information. The email address and password you enter on this page is for you. Each person that has access to the account will receive their own login information.
Click Start My 30-Day Trial, and you'll be taken to a screen that shows all of the apps you've signed up for. To finish setting up the most important part of your account, open the People app and add your people.
Import Your File
Most churches already use some kind of system for keeping track of the members of their church. Whether it's another ChMS or an Excel spreadsheet on someone's computer, you probably have a list of people somewhere that you'll want to bring along with you. Planning Center People allows you to import your list of people without paying any setup fee.
We know importing can be overwhelming and scary, so our goal is to make sure it's comprehensive but simple for you to do! So, follow these three steps to import people to Planning Center:
- Clean Up Your CSV
Many systems will generate CSV files with some unnecessary data in them, so make sure everything is entered correctly before starting your import.
- Verify the Fields
Look over Planning Center's default fields, and create custom fields, such as schools and membership statuses, based on information you want to import.
- Import the File
Use the Data Importer to import the file into Planning Center.
Only people information can be imported into Planning Center. If you want other data to exist in your Planning Center database, you can use the following options:
Tips for Exporting Files From Another ChMS
We asked current Planning Center users in our Slack Community, most of whom have already switched from another system, and they gave us lots of good tips, some for other specific systems.
Here are some general tips:
- Reformat dates (birthdates, mainly) to match Planning Center date format that matches your Localization settings: YYYY-MM-DD, MM/DD/YYYY, or MM.DD.YYYY. If you don't have a year, simply leave it out.
- If you have any fields that don't match the default fields, create custom fields within Planning Center, and then match those field names to the CSV file.
- Some recommended breaking the CSV file into smaller pieces, but this depends on the number of people you're importing.
- If you break the CSV file into smaller pieces, most recommend exporting basic information first (first and last names, household IDs, contact information) and importing that information into People. Once this import is final, export the next important information to add to the profiles created in the "basic information" import.
- Your best friend in this process will be the “sort” feature in Microsoft Excel or Numbers, which allows you to separate out people by status, date last attended, etc.
Choose your ChMS to find some additional tips for importing.
Finish adding your account information in order to fully complete your account. Include information such as main contact, campuses, and time zones to ensure the right information is communicated to your people.
In addition, set up billing information and add Organization Administrators or Billing Managers.
Check out our Setting Up Guide for more information.
One of the ways our apps can help your church is by helping you to plan, organize, and follow up after events.
Churches tend to do lots of events: Vacation Bible School, Women's Retreat, Youth Camp, Church Potluck, and even weekly Services. Our applications take those events and break them down into simple steps. You may not need every application to do an event, or you might use all of the applications for your event.
Here's a way people can use our applications for an event:
- Ask people to register for the event with Registrations
- Request a room for the event in Calendar
- Schedule volunteers to serve at the event in Services
- Set up stations for people to check in to the event through Check-Ins
- Ask people to give an offering at the event through Giving
- Help people sign up to attend a group after the event in Groups
- Follow up with people who attended the event with People
Click the links to start setting up any of those applications--and use the 30-day free trial when you do!
Welcome to the Planning Center family!