A Complete Planning Center Review [2021]


Planning Center will be covering the whole church management software, alongside its features, pricing plans, and alternatives.

Pros:

  • Fantastic worship planning application.
  • No additional payment for the mobile app.
  • Registrations app is excellent at handling and managing complex events.

Cons:

  • Customer support calls option needs to be scheduled in advance.
  • Customization is not so easy.

Average Rating: 4

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Detailed Review

Managing and running a church, while dealing with all the members and other tasks can be overwhelming. That is why you need to find the right church management software for your church. Something that will act as a worship planner, people software, and management system at the same time.

There are plenty of options out there as the church management software market has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of years. Out of the many, in today’s article, we decided to give you a more in-depth look into Planning Center – online management software that can help you shift your energy where it is needed the most.

Planning Center is one of the best church management software in the market today, and if you were thinking about getting it for your church you’re in luck.

In this Planning Center review, we will be covering the whole software, alongside its features, pricing plans, and alternatives.

Contents:

  • Planning Center Overview
  • Highlights
  • Planning Center Key Features and Services
  • Planning Center Plans and Pricing
  • How Does the Planning Center Work?
  • Planning Center Alternatives
    • Planning Center vs. ChurchTrac
    • Planning Center vs. Aplos
    • Planning Center vs. Breeze
  • Pros and Cons
  • Customer Ratings and Reviews
  • Conclusion
  • FAQs

Planning Center Overview

The planning center offers an extensive variety of church management applications and features that are market competitive and provide you with complete solutions. Moreover, their software has proven to be an effective option—for any church/ministry that desires an upgraded and church center/system for complex event management and worship planning.

What is a Planning Center?

Planning Center is a church management software, first established in 2006, with a base in Carlsbad, California, USA.

This is a type of management software that combines no more than eight online software products—designed to assist you by managing your time efficiently, and letting you focus on the most important segments of your ministry/church. And you can subscribe to individual products or use them all together as a complete church management system.

Who Is It Best For?

The Planning Center is designed for churches/ministries of all sizes. Currently, it is being used by at least ninety of the 100 biggest churches in the US.

It is one of the best church management software and helps with attendance reporting, content publishing, online group indexing, auto-scheduling, donation forecasting, and more.

How Big Is The Network?

Planning Center is one of the most popular and best church management software currently on the market. As such enjoys a vast network that spans throughout the States. At present, Planning Center is being used by over 60.000 churches.

How Much Is It Worth?

Due to the numerous services apps and features that Planning Center offers you can easily say that it has made great waves in the church management software market.

How Secure Is It?

Planning Center takes its clients’ security seriously. Therefore, it is a PCI (level one) compliant merchant. And the payment processor they use, Stripe, is one of the most advanced and widely used payment processors worldwide. Additionally, all of your data is being encrypted and sent via HTTPS.

Highlights

In this section we will discuss some of the highlights of the Planning Center church management software.

Any Integration Tools?

Many integration tools work with the Planning Center, and this is made possible because of the single API this software has. Some of the names include: Mailchimp, Altitude.Team, Adjace, Confirmed.Church, etc.

The access that Planning Center offers to developers through JSON API 1.0, enables them to build custom connections with various third-party systems/applications.

What Kind of Deployments Does It Support?

The kinds of deployments supported by the Planning Center are Web-Based, SaaS, and Cloud. There’s also mobile support for Android, iPhone, and iPad.

Is It User-Friendly?

According to numerous Planning Center customer reviews, the software is user-friendly, and also easier to use than most of the software available in the church management software market – which is one of the many reasons why it is so popular. In other words, you’ll hardly find a software that makes church management as easy as this one.

Availability of Customer Support?

Planning Center offers online customer support, where their representatives and staff guide you through the setup and answer all your questions. Another way to reach out to them is through chat and phone support.

We suggest you head over to their FAQs/Help Center and see if you’ll find an answer there first. Or, you can go the extra mile and join their Slack community – by doing this you will be able to get in touch with other churches too.

What Are the Devices Supported?

Planning Center is supported on all mobile devices (Android, iOS, and iPad). Thus, you can easily use it on the go.

What Kind of Training Sessions Are Provided?

You can acquire training sessions for a particular app that you want/need. The training is done via videos and well-explained texts. This kind of training is most definitely an easy way to grasp and get familiar with the applications and its purposes.

What Languages Are Supported?

The only language offered by the Planning Center is English, and according to them, there are no plans of integrating another language.

Nonetheless, since they allow you to customize or name most of the features in the apps, you can go ahead and name assignments, events, and ministries in your language.

Planning Center Key Features and Services

Here we will be discussing the main features of the Planning Center that you can use for managing your church more efficiently.

These include the following:

  • Groups

This service is incredibly handy and of great value, through it, you can keep a perfectly organized attendance list of all people. You can also:

–  add descriptions for every group you’ve made
– index groups
– include an RSVP option in your invites,
– you can share the resources you own with others (study materials/questions, etc.)

  • Calendar

Set up the main event schedule of your church with ease. This is the place where you can take care of things like:

– tracking of resources,
– keep in order all reports,
– enable email notifications,
– (the latest option) lets you import events from the iCal Feed to your Calendar, etc.

  • Check-Ins

You can use it to securely check people in and out of events. This is a great service that comes equipped with many options, like the following:

– roster station
– self station (Families are allowed to check-in on their own via a phone number or through the Church Center application)
– you can send emergency texts
– make a list of trusted people (e.g. a list that says who can pick up a particular child, and who can’t)
– promotion of grades, etc.

  • Givings

This service helps ease the processing of donations, it also generates reports and statements. You can:

– link it online and keep track of all those who want to give using a card, or via bank transfers, and Apple Pay
– set up acceptance of instant donations through text messages
– check details regarding every donation received
– protect the data of the people donating, etc.

  • People

Access information and track the activity of your congregation. Among the many things you can do are the following:

– make forms, and encourage people for volunteering signups

– let people ask for prayers, and send automated requests to the prayer team, etc.

  • Publishing

Tailor-made the Church Center experience and use the latest tools that help you air your sermons.

  • Registrations

Register and coordinate people for events and process payments (online and in-person). Also:

– you can create custom questions and forms,
– enable add-ons for people (let them choose extra activities they like)
– offer category filtering (you can assist people to find events near their residence), etc.

  • Services

Schedule volunteers, gather teams and plan your services (e.g. worship planning). This product also lets you

– customize the calendar according to particular preferences people have
– keep in touch with the people, either through emails, texts, or push notifications
– completely prepare worship services (to the smallest detail)
– take advantage of the rehearsal tools offered (fully prepare your musicians and the song library),
– and the most recent option lets you connect services plans and sermons.

Planning Center Plans and Pricing

Wondering how much this Planning Center cost?

The Planning Center’s pricing starts from $14 a product, for a month. Its products/services are divided into eight different applications. And it is entirely up to you which ones you’ll choose, and whether you need just one of them or a combination of 2+ applications. In other words, starts you can create a custom plan based on your church’s managerial needs.

Even better, the prices of the applications are, let’s say adjustable. For instance, the Check-Ins application offers fifteen check-ins free of charge. However, if you change your mind, and you need more, you can have unlimited check-ins for no more than $199 a month.

What Are the Plans Available?

Each of Planning Center’s products is treated as a separate plan, therefore, there are eight different plans. This is what is included and the prices they come with:

1. Calendar

– 10 managed rooms for $14.
– 25 managed rooms for $29.
– 55 managed rooms for $59.
– 100 managed rooms for $99.
– 150 managed rooms for $149.
– An unlimited number of managed rooms for $199.

2. Check-Ins

– 50 daily check-ins and 5 emergency texts ($14)
– 150 daily check-ins and 15 emergency texts ($29)
– 500 daily check-ins and 50 emergency texts ($59)
– 1.250 daily check-ins and 125 emergency texts ($99)
– 3.000 daily check-ins and 300 emergency texts ($140)
– Unlimited number of daily check-ins and texts ($199)

3. Giving

–  100 donations a month ($14)
– 250 donations a month ($29)
– 600 donations a month ($59)
– 1.250 donations a month ($99)
– 2.000 donations a month ($149)
– Unlimited donations a month ($199)

The prices refer to monthly payments.

4. Groups

–  125 group members ($14)
– 300 group members ($29)
– 700 group members ($59)
– 1.250 group members ($99)
– 2.500 group members ($149)
– Unlimited group members ($199)

The prices refer to monthly payments.

5. People

This product comes free of charge and it is included with whichever else you might want to combine it.

6. Publishing

– Home Page and Navigation comes at a $0 cost
– Custom Pages ($14 a month)
– Custom Pages and Sermons ($29 a month)

7. Registrations

– 20 visitors per event ($14)
– 55 visitors per event ($29)
– 150 visitors per event ($59)
– 500 visitors per event ($99)
– 2.000 visitors per event ($149)
– 5.000 visitors per event ($199)

The prices refer to monthly payments.

8. Services

– 25 members (2 GB) – $14
– 50 members (4 GB) – $29
– 150 members (10 GB) – $59
– 400 members (30 GB) – $99
– 1.000 members (60 GB) – $149
– Unlimited number of members (200 GB) – $199

The prices refer to monthly payments.

Keep in mind that there are no setup fees with any of the above-mentioned products/plans.

Does It Have Any Free Trial/Version?

Yes, there is a 30-day free trial when using Planning Center for the first time, after which the products will be available on module-based pricing that starts at $14 a month.
The People (membership management) product/plan is entirely free, and it will stay free no matter whether you decide to combine it with another product or not.

How Does the Planning Center Work?

Using this software is no hard challenge, but still, let’s help you sign up for an account with Planning Center and explain its work procedure step-by-step. We are going to sign up for the People product.

Step 1 – Open their official website in the browser and click on the white ‘sign up’ button, in the top right corner of the site.

Step 2 – Once you click the ‘sign-up’ button, you will be taken to another window. Here, you can see the products which you can choose from.

Step 3 – The Planning Center team recommends new members to start by choosing the People central hub. Next, see the blue ‘sign-up’ button at the bottom of the page, in your right-hand corner – click on it.

Step 4 – Now this click takes you to your third window where the signup process will take place.

Step 5 – To create an account with Planning Center, you’ll need to give the name of your organization, provide your info (name/last name), a valid email address, think of a strong password, and select your time zone.
Don’t forget to mark the tiny square, right in front of ‘’I agree to the terms,’’ etc.

Step 6 – Since you’ve chosen a product and created an account, now it’s time to add info to your database of people. The quickest way to do this is by creating a form.

Step 7 – To create an online form, you’ll need to decide what info you’d like to include in people’s profiles. You can have a look at what info is already allowed by checking your profile. Yet, if there is more information you’d like to include, you can create custom fields to do so.

Your account has been successfully created and you can use their online church services. Next time you want to enter your account, all you’ll need to do is to go straight to the Planning Center login button.

Are There Any Premium Services?

There aren’t any premium services offered by Planning Center. But they have plenty to offer and choose from, as we’ve already mentioned in the course of this review.

What Are All the Services Provided by Them?

Planning Center’s core services are the following:

  • Services
  • Check-Ins
  • Registrations
  • Giving
  • Groups
  • Resources
  • People
  • Calendar
  • and Publishing.

Ultimately, the Planning Center is different for each church, because it depends on its preferences. That’s why it’s very handy that you have a 30-day free trial to explore all the products. Additionally, you can also try the free training videos on every Planning Center product to get a taste of what you can expect.

Planning Center Alternatives

A backup plan is never a bad thing, so is the case with the Planning Center. This is why we decided to offer you three of the best church management software alternatives: ChurchTrac, Aplos, and Breeze.

Planning Center vs. ChurchTrac

One of the key areas where ChurchTrac holds an advantage over Planning Center is that it has better pricing. You get all the tools you need with just one plan and for one price. Compared to the Planning Center, where you have the freedom to combine multiple products and adjust the same to your church’s needs—each product comes with a different price. Nevertheless, the starting price of their services is the same, just $14.

Customer support is another area where ChurchTrac has an advantage as they offer live webinars with Q&A, training videos, and one-on-one workshops. On the other hand, Planning Center offers to answer any query you might have in no less than an hour, and they also have prepared ‘How-to’ articles for you.

The bottom line is that with a planning center, you won’t be able to track your finances. Therefore, you’d be obliged to rely on a third-party tool. Whereas, you won’t need to worry about that with ChurchTrac—since it is a complete church management software. ChurchTrac also has better in-built worship planning features at a more affordable price.

So, if you want to save money on church management software, you can easily rely on ChurchTrac to do the job for you.

Planning Center vs. Aplos

Aplos is another alternative to Planning Center, but the only drawback you are likely to face is that Aplos is more expensive to implement. It has a ton of amazing features and excellent customer support but they also come at a higher price point. The standard price for Planning Center starts at $14, while for Aplos is $29.50 a month.

Churches or nonprofits that want a powerful software for handling member or donor management, fund accounting, auto-tracking of gifts, fundraising tools, and recurring donations would love Aplos.

Planning Center vs. Breeze

One of the main differences between Breeze and Planning Center is the pricing. Breeze has a simple flat rate of $50 a month, and the goal is to fit small to medium-sized churches. All the features are available and you can load in as many forms, events, users, and people you like with no change in pricing. The Planning Center in comparison has a separate module for every product.

Breeze also offers better customer support for small to mid-sized churches, who don’t have an IT staff and may find the software or programs complicated.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fantastic worship planning application.
  • The Registrations app is excellent at handling and managing complex events.
  • The freedom to choose what products you need and combine the same, with no limitations.
  • No additional payment for the mobile app.

Cons

  • Customization is not so easy.
  • The customer support calls option needs to be scheduled in advance.
  • Be careful, with just one, or few product purchases, you’ll have to consider opting for third-party vendors.

Customer Ratings and Reviews

This review is coming to its end, so let us dedicate this section to some verified customer reviews. However, before we go to them, check out Planning Center’s online rating:

  • G2 – Planning Center enjoys an excellent 4.7-star rating on this website. And, it also has more than 130 customer reviews.
  • GetApp – From this website too, Planning Center has a 4.7/5 star rating. This is based on nearly 980 reviews.
  • TrustRadius – Here’s an incredible rating of 9.6 stars, out of 10.
  • FinancesOnline – The Planning Center aced this rating with a mesmerizing 4.9-star rating, out of 5.

Customer Reviews

Below are some of the customer reviews of people who have used Planning Center for managing their church.

PlanningCenter1

PlanningCenter2

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(The screenshots are taken from verified customer reviews left on G2, TrustRadius, GetApp, and FinancesOnline)

Conclusion

All-in-all, the Planning Center does what it is designed for – to offer support, ease up and organize things for churches with its separate products and features. This church software offers tools to help you manage your database, membership, plan services, schedule volunteers, take signups, check people in, manage your facilities and calendar, coordinate small groups, and process online donations.

However, one of the best things about it is that you can choose what you want to use, this is based solely upon the church’s needs and requirements. But, if you are looking for management software that tracks your finances completely, you might want to reconsider your choice. Nevertheless, you can still use this church management software and have a separate tool to handle your church’s finances.

This is a reliable management software that steps in with some strong products/applications, and it will be worth your time in the long run. We hope this Planning Center review gave you enough reasons to check it out and see if this is what your church needs.

FAQ

1. How Can I Transfer Administration?

First of all, you need to understand that the accounts are not the property of the individuals who create them. Moreover, they belong to the organizations they were created for. This is why the accounts have various organization administrators who operate the Planning Center accounts completely.

In other words, when you sign up and create a Planning Center account, you will be made an organization admin by default.

The Planning Center team suggests you appoint one admin more, to act as an organization administrator. This is done as a precaution and reduces the risk of losing control if an administrator can’t be reached due to an emergency or has left the organization.

2. Can I Merge or Transfer Account Information?

Merging of organization account data isn’t possible in the Planning Center. That’s because when a news organization gets created, all of the permissions, data, and application-specifics automatically are inherited by that very account. However, this could be done manually. To merge the account information, you will need to follow these two steps:

  • You need to export a CSV file of the people from the church you want to transfer account information.
  • Once that is done, you can use the same file to import/transfer people to the desired church.

It’s important to remember that you will need different web browsers to fulfill this action. This is for the sake of you being logged into both accounts simultaneously, and ensure you merge account information effortlessly.

3. Does the Planning Center Offer an API?

The Planning Center has only one API. The same is used to connect with Services, Calendars, People, Groups, Giving, and Check-Ins. 

Compact Review


  • Pricing

    Ranges from $14 to $199

  • Free Trial

    30 days

  • Ratings
    • G2 – 4.7-star/5
    • GetApp – 4.7-star/5
    • TrustRadius – 9.6/10
    • FinancesOnline  – 4.9-star/5