Technology isn’t cheap. Just look at the latest iPhone prices. This is also why it’s so hard to upgrade church technology.
Maybe you’re still using a Windows XP PC or an outdated camera. The truth is, though, sometimes, you’ve got to upgrade to stay current.
While you don’t need to spend a fortune, choosing the right things to upgrade makes it much more affordable to get your church’s tech out of the stone age.
Focus On Your Church Website
If you don’t have a large budget, one of the most affordable ways to upgrade church technology is to invest in a website. Your church website instantly makes your church seem more modern and tech-savvy. It’s also a multi-purpose tech investment.
It’s not a page with a picture of your church and your address. It also serves as the following:
- 24/7 marketing tool
- New visitor orientation
- Increasing church growth
- Volunteer training
- Increase volunteering
- Expanding your reach
- Showing your sermons online
- Ministering worldwide 24/7
- Online tithing platform
- The start of a new journey for those discovering their faith
As you can tell, your church’s site is a powerful tool. By checking off so many different thing in a single investment, it’s an affordable way to go from off the grid to available 24/7 to potential new visitors.
If you already have a church website, consider giving it an affordable upgrade. It doesn’t take much time or money. In fact, something as simple as changing your images helps and can even help you start appealing more to millennials as well.
Ask For Donations
The average person gets a new smartphone every 32 months. Of course, this isn’t the only tech device they replace. Many of your members have tablets, smartphones, smart speakers, laptops, desktops, webcams, sound systems and more. Odds are, they have some older devices that still work well, but are still better than what your church currently has.
Ask your members and community to donate their old gadgets to your church. Upgrade church technology with some of what you collect. Then, have volunteers help re-purpose devices to hand out to people in the community who don’t have the means to buy devices themselves.
This is a great way to affordably upgrade your own tech while helping out the community too. While things might not be brand new, they’re still useful.
For instance, you can use an older tablet as an in-church tithing station. Or, configure a smart phone with a decent camera for livestreaming. You can even install free Linux systems on older Windows computers to help them run faster.
Use Open Source Software
Many open source tools are completely free, even for businesses and nonprofits. You can save hundreds and even thousands by using these free alternatives over their paid counterparts.
For instance, instead of buying Microsoft Office, use Open Office or Libre Office. They’re incredibly similar to Microsoft Office and they’re free. To help you on your search for open source tools, try the following lists:
- Systweak’s List Of 21 Best Free and Open source Software in 2020
- Capterra’s 7 Best Free and Open Source Church Management Software Options
- Techwiser’s Free Open Source Alternatives for Expensive Software
If there’s something specific you need, perform a Google search for name of software + open source alternative.
Take Advantage Of Discounts And Grants
Numerous businesses and organizations love to help out nonprofits and this includes helping you to upgrade church technology. A common way businesses help out is by donating all their old computers and other various equipment (which may only be a year or two old) to deserving nonprofits.
However, you may need to reach out to them in order to be considered. Simply writing a humble letter expressing your need and why you need new devices is a great start.
You can also work with organizations that gather all the best discounts for you. For instance, TechSoup helps you find businesses and programs to upgrade your technology, both software and hardware, for less. They even have TechSoup Boost, which is a subscription service for even bigger discounts.
In addition to discounts, grants are also available to help your church. While they’re not all focused on technology, you can limit your search to just those if that’s what you need most. Fundly has a list of tech companies offering grants to help out churches. Whole Whale also lists ways major tech companies are aiding churches and nonprofits.
If you need help with searching for and applying for grants, Funding for Good offers step-by-step guidance to get you started.
Master Social Media
A common misconception when it comes to technology is you have to pay money to benefit. Wrong! A simple way to upgrade church technology is by mastering social media. All you need is a smartphone or computer and you’re ready to start socializing with your members all week long.
At the time of writing, Facebook had 2.5 billion monthly active users. You don’t have to pay a thing to join the platform and starting posting.
Of course, it’s not that simple to get noticed on social media. The major investment is time. However, once you figure out what works and how to engage with your followers, you’ll find that it’s a simple and free tool for growing your church. Plus, you’ll reach all ages on just one or two platforms.
Social media seem too difficult? Try our guides below to start mastering this popular tech trend today:
- Social Media Trends For 2020 That Boost Engagement
- How Smaller Churches Can Stand Out On Social Media
- Creating Church Social Media Posts Users Actually Want To Share
- How To Write The Ultimate Social Media Strategy For Your Church
Stream Online For Free
More than ever, people expect churches to stream their services. At the very least, they want to see the last few sermons posted to watch whenever. But, streaming costs money. From equipment to the platform, it may not seem that affordable.
If you’re new to streaming, there is an affordable way to upgrade church technology to ensure you’re ready to stream. First, invest in one good camera and microphone. If someone donates a smartphone or tablet from the last few years, that can work as both.
Second, pick your platform. The cheapest options are free and include Facebook Live and YouTube Live. These are great for smaller churches, especially if you already have a following on either platform.
The great thing is a one-time equipment investment lasts you for years. Our livestreaming guide helps you better understand what you need and what platforms are available to help you make the best decisions for your budget.
Look For All-In-One Solutions
If there’s anything fast food combos have taught us, sometimes it’s cheaper to bundle. The same is true when it comes to upgrading your church technology.
For example, if all you currently have are a few old speakers and a microphone that sort of works, it’s more affordable to buy a moderately priced system versus each component separately. If you look for sales and deals, you can often find audio systems that give you a soundboard, cables, software and speakers for just the cost of one or two of those components.
A church website is another all-in-one type of solution, which we’ve talked about earlier. For instance, our church website design services include all the basics along with things like an events system, online sermons, analytics, digital giving and more.
Invest In Online Tithing
Do you still pass around a collection plate? While that will likely always be a staple of churches, it’s time to upgrade church technology to increase tithing and make accounting easier.
Imagine spending less time counting money and more time just running a simple report. Plus, people often feel much more comfortable giving online. It’s private and convenient. And, they don’t have to carry cash.
Online giving platforms make it quick and easy for your members and even online followers to give. Integrate them with your church website and/or app. You can use a few donated tablets to set up giving stations inside your church, too.
Think Realistic Over The Latest And Greatest
It’s easy to get star struck by megachurches. They have the latest and greatest church technology. Their lights, audio and video are mind blowing. But, you don’t have to compete with that.
Remember, megachurches have to have at least 2,000 attendees weekly to maintain that status. For instance, Life.Church has over 85,000 weekly attendees at its more than 30 locations. This means churches like this bring in thousands every single week, making it easy for them to invest in the best.
Your church doesn’t need the best. It’s just like someone who bought an iPhone six months ago claiming they need the newest model. The two models aren’t that different outside of the price.
So, think realistically for your church. An off-brand may cost hundreds or even thousands less and still offer amazing results for your church. The right tech isn’t always the most expensive. Pick what works and focus more on making the most of it.
Embrace Google For Nonprofits
Did you know Google wants to help your church? The tech giant offers grants to nonprofits, along with a bunch of free tools, to help you succeed. All you need to do is apply and learn how to use everything.
The stand out part is the $10,000 per month ad credit. You have to use all of it each month, but that’s $10,000 in free marketing every month. We can actually help you apply for and start using the program to grow your church. When you’re not spending as much on marketing, you have even more to invest in tech upgrades.
Part of the program includes free access to Google’s suite of tools, such as G Suite, Google One Today and more.
Use Free Graphics
A simple way to upgrade church technology is to switch to free resources. If you want more graphics to use, you don’t need to subscribe to an expensive service. Instead, use a free open source image editor (part of the open source lists above) and free graphics to create your own unique graphics. There are also free online platforms for creating graphics too.
You can create stunning slideshows and backgrounds for services. Or, update your church site and blog with fresh graphics. You can also draw attention to your social media posts too.
Get More From Your Technology
Sometimes, you don’t need to really buy much of anything to upgrade. Instead, you just need to make what you have do more. For instance, if you have a laptop, all you need to buy is a quality webcam to start streaming. No need to buy a brand new computer or camera system.
Don’t want to invest in a soundboard? No problem. Buy speakers that you can control via smartphone. Then, all you have to buy are the speakers, which saves you a lot.
Limit What You Need
When it comes time to upgrade church technology, it’s easy to get carried away. A common theme is ensuring every church staff member has their own computer. However, does everyone actually need one?
Would it be better to have a few shared computers and use a church management system that’s mobile friendly instead? Staff that don’t really need computers could easily access reports and information from their phones.
A good surround sound system means you don’t need nearly as many speakers. Using adjustable LED lighting systems reduces how many lights you need as you can adjust the brightness and angles for your needs.
Utilize Volunteers To Run Things
Of course, with technology upgrades, you’ll need people to help you figure out how to use it and maintain it. Odds are, you already have the support you need right in your church family.
Ask volunteers to help out with installing new equipment, adjusting sound, editing video, helping set up livestream cameras and more. This allows them to be more involved and engaged in your church. Plus, for members who already love tech, it’s just fun for them.
Rent For Temporary Needs
As a final suggestion, if you only need certain technology a few times a year for special events, consider renting or having a service come in. It’s much cheaper than buying everything.