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Focusing on a Secure Environment

Understanding the state of your church's finances

When churches or other faith-based organizations begin their partnership in ministry with Realm and ACST, many of the same questions seem to bubble to the top about how Realm or the other services we offer help enhance their ministry.  These questions usually sound something like this:

  • Is Realm an all-in-one solution, so my church doesn’t have to spend time/resources integrating different solutions?
  • Do my pastors, pastoral teams, and congregation have access to mobile apps and other tools built to enable ministry growth, connection, and engagement with one another?
  • Can I create journeys for discipleship and track that over time as a congregant grows with our church and in their faith?

Though Realm is able to do all of the above and more, the question of security doesn’t seem to have the same amount of focus and impact for church leaders when they’re considering a new church management solution.  However, understanding how security can influence your ministry decisions is important to understand.

When I say security, I don’t mean locking your church doors at night or arming your security systems.  Those are all good practices to have for physical security, and it’s important you keep doing that.

I mean how the technology and tools offered through Realm and ACST can help secure your ministry for the future.  Most notably, your people and your finances. So let’s dig into each for a moment.     

Your People

What does it mean to offer a secure environment for your people?  Understandably, I think most of us think of children first.  With Realm, churches can use the built-in check-in system for all their events or worship services, customize children’s badges, including as much or as little information as needed, and parents get a matching badge as well. Then, when they pick up their child, the worker matches the parent’s and child’s badges, so there’s no fear or confusion, and you can continue to run a secure ministry.

In thinking about your children’s workers or other volunteers or staff members who regularly interact with children, it’s important your church takes a “trust but verify” approach to those individuals.  With Realm’s tool for background checks – which is built directly inside of Realm – your church will have the ability to run background checks on anyone working with children.  This means the days of managing third-party spreadsheets with background check dates are over.  

Best of all, the background check dates are housed directly in Realm.  You’ll be able to set rescreening frequencies based on the needs of your church or any by-laws you may have established.  As individual’s background check dates approach the renewal date, staff or other leadership are notified, so no one is working with children in a vulnerable position.

But security means more than just the safety of your children.  It also means having a church management solution (ChMS) that’s flexible enough to satisfy the privacy needs of your unique congregation.  

You probably have church members who happily share their contact information, phone numbers, or email addresses, for example, with others in the church.  On the other side of that coin, you no doubt have members who are very guarded – dare I say fearful – of having their contact information exposed.  One of the great things about Realm is that its privacy settings satisfy both types of individuals.  

Every congregant using Realm has total control over their personal information.   Maybe they want to show their cell phone number to the congregation but not their home address?  Realm can do that.  What if they want to provide contact information for their group leaders but not the congregation at large?  Realm can do that too.  And what if they’re new to the church and not yet comfortable with the idea of providing any contact information to the congregation?  Guess what…Realm can handle that.  When the time comes, and they want to make changes to their privacy information, it’s as easy as the click of a button.

From the staff perspective, we know that not all staff need access to every type of information.  And running a secure ministry means you need tools to prevent specific individuals from seeing particular types of information.  For example, some need access to your membership records and the ability to add new individuals to Realm, but not access to your church’s contributions.  

Realm makes that easy for your church with built-in role-based security.  Easily define who can see what information, along with their level of detail.  Additionally, only certain top-level staff with administrative rights have access to these security features, so you know that you’re keeping your church’s data safe at all times.       

Your Finances

Secondly, from a financial perspective, a solution for screening those who help manage your finances can play an important role here as well.  From volunteers handling money during an event, ushers collecting money during the church service, all the way to properly vetting your newly hired staff members, Realm’s background checks can help handle all aspects of that process for you.

Additionally, like Realm, Realm Accounting allows for deep levels of role-based security, so your financial staff only have access to the information they need.  This also allows leadership to better track what’s happening with their church’s finances.  They can choose who has access to what information in Realm Accounting.

Since Realm completely integrates all aspects of the financial transactions that happen in your church – the contributions that are added by staff, online giving that’s being processed, monies that are being posted to the general ledger in Realm Accounting – it’s all under one roof instead of being spread out and in different systems.  

For those of you who want to take a deeper dive into how Realm and ACST handle the security of your church’s information (IT Directors, I’m looking at you), check out this page on data security measures for more information on why the security for your church is a top priority for us and why it should be for you as well.

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