I’ve been at Spirit of Hope for over 4 months now, working away in the office, learning about how your church operates. I figured it’s about time I give you a clear, direct update on everything I’ve done!
On my first day, I found out the printer was down. It was explained to me that the printer had been up and down, that it’d long had issues. The technicians replaced the motherboard (the printer is a very big computer), they replaced the hard drive, but…what we really needed was for the gigantic printer to be on it’s own circuit. I checked with some IT professionals at large corporations and they confirmed this was what we needed. The copier was placed on a dedicated circuit in late February and the printer has been very happy ever since. That’s what it’s told me at least.
Via a free Google Suite subscription that’s available for non-profits, I was FINALLY able to solve all of our email issues. If you need to email me, my email is email@example.com; Janine’s is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the general office email that both of us use is email@example.com. I realize many people are used to the yahoo email, but please use the aforementioned emails. Yahoo is constantly being hacked and since it’s been bought out, it’s time to use a more stable company for our email needs.
One of the first things I realized was that our monthly Waste Management bill was extraordinarily high; we were racking up extra charges every week by having things next to the dumpster, not in it. The reality was, our recycling needs greatly outstripped the capacity of the bins we had. So, instead of the $289 or so we were supposed to be getting charged, last year our monthly charges ranged from $600 to $1,200 after the flea market. Furthermore, we had an audit of our account and found that, since we signed the contract, they had overcharged us a total of $770; that amount was credited to our account. We are now back to paying around $300 (after taxes, etc), and we haven’t had any overages since we got the larger single-stream recycling bin.
Our phone and internet services were the next thing to tackle. We only had 12mbps for our internet and we still were paying by the minute for long distance. I tried multiple times to get CenturyLink to help us get unlimited long distance and better internet speeds, but they ultimately (and weirdly) refused. So, we switched to Comcast Business and ended up paying the same rate for a better plan. That change happened in April and it went very well. I was concerned that the phone system wasn’t going to respond well, but it went perfectly well. Our internet speeds are now up to 150mbps, and I can tell! More importantly, we have a very strong wireless hub in the lobby behind the monitor. We have two wireless accounts. The open system that does not require a password is Spirit of Hope Church; this hub is designed to be very safe and secure. Even better–we now have unlimited long distance; that was an expense that ranged from $40-$90/month that we no longer have.
A year ago, Ad Council approved the software migration from the very outdated SHELBY (that still relied on outdated IRS accounting guidelines for churches) to Breeze for church management software and Quickbooks for accounting. Breeze tracks attendance and giving, including pledges. We have the historical data for giving and attendance for the last 7 years imported in, and 2017 pledges have been entered.
Church members can access their profile information, add a picture, update contact info, coordinate volunteers, assign tasks….and more. It’s a very easy program to use, and there isn’t anything that you can break. You can see your own giving history, too. If you’re interested in giving Breeze a whirl, you can access your member profile and create your account here: There is also a Breeze app that you can use on your phone; I’ve been using it since day 1 and I love it! If you want any help or would like to talk about the ways your committees and groups could use it, let me know and I’d love to help!
I’ve been using Quickbooks Premiere 2017 for Non-Profits, and the capabilities for reports, charts, graphs, etc are fantastic; reports can be as detailed or general as we need. Hopefully everyone will be able to find the information easier to understand rather than rows and columns of endless numbers.
Something to keep in mind: we have an account with TechSoup; this gives us amazing offers for discounted software and hardware. For instance, we can get a license to install Microsoft Office for $27 per computer. There’s no need to waste money on software by paying full price; hopefully this will hugely helpful in the future and give us access to better technology tools!
It also turned out that 8-10 years is about the life of emergency lights and exit signs. A majority of these vital safety items in our building no longer worked. Newer fixtures with better technology ended up being less expensive than replacing batteries in the lights, and most of the signs needed batteries that are no longer available. We are now safe and up to code in the event of an outage or emergency!
And finally, if you’re reading this, you may notice a few things are different on the page. With consultation with staff and the IT team, the home page of the webite has been updated as of last week. I kept all of the style options I could, which was most of them. But I hope that you’ll find that it’s easy to navigate. I do have a couple of tiny tweaks to make, and those should be done in the next week or so.
As always, I am a firm believer in the power of direct and open communication to create a healthy community. If you have questions or concerns about any of the above or anything else, I’ll be happy to talk to you directly, either in person or over the phone. It’s easier for me to address things if I hear it first person, and it’s easier for you to feel heard, so it’s great all around!
Have a safe and happy Summer, Spirit of Hope community!
Office Manager, Spirit of Hope