How to Choose a Directory Program

Instant Church Directory Online Directory Resources

After learning that your church wants to put together a church directory, you go to the computer, thinking this will be easy. But then you find several online directory companies — all seemingly with great features and benefits. How do you decide which company to choose? What should you consider in your decision-making process? The article below should help you understand what you should look for to make your directory successful.

Security

The most important feature to consider in your decision-making process is the security of the directory and your members’ information — whether the directory is printed, available on your church website or accessible from a mobile device. Here are some questions to ask yourself about the security features of a church directory.

  • Is the directory password-protected?
    Instant Church Directory mobile apps and online member websites are only accessible to those members who create a username and password and are verified as members of the directory. We send a verification link to only those email addresses that are listed in the directory. You can be certain that your directory is only accessible to verified church members.
  • How easily can people be removed from the directory?
    Your church family evolves over time — it’s a fact of church life. Members relocate, get married or, sadly, pass away. Having a program that allows for these necessary changes is imperative to keep your directory safe and accessible to only members who should have access to its contents. Those who are marked as “inactive” in the directory will not have access to it.
  • Will our church members’ information be sold to other companies?
    With the current data-mining trends of online companies, your church members may be reluctant to have their personal information on the internet. Even though your data is stored safely with us, Instant Church Directory does not access your data, except for specific troubleshooting purposes. All data provided by members is held securely, and we do not use members’ information, such as phone numbers or email addresses, for marketing purposes (either internally or by selling the information to other organizations).

Adding and updating family data

Managing the family members’ and individuals’ data must be user-friendly and easy to do. Importing a .CSV file from your church database is an easy way to build your directory, and it is quite a time-saver.

  • Can I import existing information into the new directory?
  • Can I export family information for mailing labels?

Because the family data is at the heart of any directory, it’s important to consider how a directory program provides for both family and individual details.

  • Does the directory program provide the ability to handle sensitive details, such as family members with different last names?
  • Does the directory program include information for birthdays and anniversaries?
  • Does the directory program provide additional fields to add any other information?

Adding pictures

Next to creating families’ and individuals’ information, the most important thing would be uploading photos of your church members. Now, this is where the fun and creativity begin!

  • How easily can I add photos into the directory?
  • Can members take their own photos and then upload them?
  • How easy is it to make changes and updates to photos?

How you choose to incorporate photos and obtain them from your members is totally in your control. With Instant Church Directory, you can have volunteers take members’ photos on a given Sunday or at any church event. Or, you can request that members provide their own photos for the directory through the program, and then you can approve them before they appear in the directory. Whether you request photos from your members or take them yourself, our image upload tool makes handling one photo or multiple photos at a time simple.

Some directory companies make you wait until you have several members’ photos to update. With Instant Church Directory, you can make as many updates to members’ photos as you like, as often as you like.

Features

You will need to decide which additional features you’ll want your directory program to provide. Many churches like the ability to click to call, click to text and click to email, all straight from a mobile app. But there are other features to consider as well.

  • Does the directory program include a “groups” feature?
    A church is not just one large body of members; churches are made up of small groups doing their part to advance the mission of the church. Sunday school classes, service groups, outreach groups and committees are often where individuals find their purpose within the church, so it’s important to highlight them and the individuals that are involved in them. We give you the ability to include individuals in groups and then make those groups their own separate subdirectories. Groups can be made private or public — it’s in the administrator’s control.
  • Does the directory program have mass communication options such as texting and emailing church members directly?
    Mass communication to the entire church body or to special church groups can be helpful to keep members abreast of scheduling issues, prayer requests or other issues that can’t wait until the next gathering time. Instant Church Directory has a FREE broadcast news feature that allows you to email your members from within the directory — and you don’t have to look up a single email address.

Traditional paper directory

Even with electronic access to the directory via mobile apps or the online member website, many churches want a traditional printed directory — especially for member who are seniors.

  • Is there a printable directory option available in the program?
    Instant Church Directory easily provides a PDF that you can print yourself in a few easy steps or by taking it to a local printer.

Costs

There are many directory options to consider and many have similar features, BUT don’t overlook varying price points that can impact your budget’s bottom line. Keep these questions in mind as you compare your options.

  • Is the price of the program all-inclusive — or are there “add-on” charges?
  • Does the price change based on the size of my church?
  • Are there fees to update the directory?
  • Are there fees for the mobile app or members website?
  • Is there a charge for customer support?

We believe that pricing should be simple and upfront. Instant Church Directory’s pricing will never leave you guessing. Regardless of your church size, you’ll only pay one price.

We believe building your directory can and should be a stress-free process. Understanding the options in choosing the right directory program for your church will give you confidence as you move forward in your decision-making process. It’s our desire that whatever program you choose, you are equipped to make a communication tool that will provide your church with another way for families to connect and that will strengthen your church community.

Author Bio:

Melanie Koenig

Melanie Koenig is a Customer Advocate at Communication Resources, Inc. She is actively involved in her church Sunday school and youth activities – and is always looking for new and fun ways to enhance the Church Ministry and create inter-generational connections. Melanie can often be found at the Softball Field cheering on her daughter with her husband and family.

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