News from Vanco
Vanco has made some changes recently, one of which requires a change to ChurchInfo.
They renamed the service URL to https://www.vancoservices.com, which affects two files in ChurchInfo: Include/VancoChurchInfo.php and Include/vandowebservices.php. The updates are in the master repository in git on SourceForge but not in any release yet. Please let me know if you need any help with these changes- click "Contact Us" near the top of this web page to send me an email.
Vanco also changed their pricing for ACH transactions to charge a discount rate of 0.5% on ACH transactions. When donation transactions are small this doesn't have a big impact but for larger donation transactions it can add up. Please contact Vanco to determine the best pricing plan for your particular situation.
Release 1.2.14 Available Now
The newest release 1.2.14 includes support for new electronic donation processing options Authorize.NET and Vanco, and removes support for ECHO. This release also includes many bug fixes and improvements. To upgrade your existing installation:
- Back up your database using the phpMyAdmin Export feature or mysqldump
- Rename your current installation directory, probably "churchinfo" unless you changed its name
- Unpack the new 1.2.14 distribution into your web server
- Edit the file Include/Config.php in the new installation and copy the settings from this same file in your old installation.
- Copy the Images directory from your old installation to the new installation
- Log into ChurchInfo as usual. The first time you log in it will automatically update your database for the new version.
For information about the new electronic donation processing options look in the Documentation folder for the file ReadmeElectronicTransactions.txt.
This is the time of year when we have to send out "tax letters" providing our members with an official record of their donations for the previous year.
ChurchInfo provides a somewhat customizable report for this purpose. The report is accessed from Data/Reports->Reports Menu, and the link "Financial Reports". The report type is "Giving Report (Tax Statements)". The next page allows some customization. For tax statements, set the start and end dates and tell it to use the Payment Date rather than the Deposit data. With a little luck it will provide a PDF file where each page is a letter that can be folded, stuffed in a window envelope and mailed. The text phrases used in the report may be set in Admin->Edit Report Settings for additional customization.
If this feature doesn't work for your situation things become somewhat more complicated. Here is a custom query that should be helpful for anyone who has to do some sort of special mail merge.
SELECT b.per_firstname as Adult1First, b.per_lastname as Adult1Last, c.per_firstname as Adult2First, c.per_lastname as Adult2Last, fam_Name as FamilyName, fam_address1, fam_address2, fam_city, fam_state, fam_zip, fam_envelope, sum(a.plg_amount) as TotalPayments from family_fam left join pledge_plg a on a.plg_famID = fam_ID and a.plg_Date>='2010-01-01' and a.plg_Date<='2010-12-31' and a.plg_PledgeOrPayment='Payment' left outer join person_per b on b.per_fam_ID=fam_id and b.per_fmr_id=1 left outer join person_per c on c.per_fam_ID=fam_id and c.per_fmr_id=2
where a.plg_amount>0 and not isnull(a.plg_amount) group by fam_id
To run this query, select Data/Reports->Query Menu and click the link "Run a Free-Text Query". Paste the whole query string inside and press "Execute SQL". This link is only available to administrators.
Note that this query hard-codes the start and end dates and the two adult family roles. Running this query on a large database can take a long time! For my church it takes more than five minutes. You may have to adjust the settings on your browser to permit such a long page loading time.
ChurchInfo is Ten Years Old!
I just noticed that this project was registered on SourceForge ten years ago!
It certainly has been a fun ride, getting to know people from all over the world with the common goal of caring for our churches. We are serving churches of every denomination I ever heard of. If you Google "free church database" we have been one of the first results almost from the very beginning. Almost every day I get emails from people asking, "How much does it cost?" or "Is this software really free?". I always enjoy answering "nothing" and "yes!".
It is impossible to know how many churches are using ChurchInfo, but here are a few numbers:
The latest version 1.2.13 has been downloaded 15,320 times.
162 churches have registered their installations.
1050 discussions have been registered on the SourceForge forums.
24 developers have participated in developing the code for this project. Most developers participate for a while to contribute features that are particularly useful to their own churches.
The great thing about a pure volunteer project is that we don't have to worry about money at all. We can't go bankrupt. We speed up when more developers participate and slow down when they finish their tasks and move on.
This seems like a great time to thank the developers and all the churches that have inspired us. I'm looking forward to the next ten years!
ChurchInfo Team Leader
World's Smallest ChurchInfo Server
ChurchInfo user and contributor Robert Bennet has built an image for Rasberry Pi that includes everything required to run a ChurchInfo server. This tiny server is inexpensive, uses hardly any power, and can be set up fairly quickly. The basic steps are to transfer the image to a flash card, log into the new system via ssh, and tell it to expand the file system to use the whole flash card. For a dedicated server in the church office this may be all that is required. If the system will be exposed to unfamiliar networks or users the default passwords should be changed.
Here is a link to the documentation: churchinfo-pi.pdf
Here is a more recent document: CIPiReadme.pdf
Read Before Downloading
ChurchInfo is a web server application, which is nice because you can use it from anywhere with a browser but it isn't your typical download/install application. If you just want to run stand-alone on a PC please read the article below "Simple Installation on Windows". You can get the server infrastructure from xampp and then browse to localhost. The general instructions for installing on any server are in the distribution file Documentation/Readme.txt. There is a shared demo running on our web site; see article below "Try our demo". You can also register for a private demo that will run for a few weeks. See the article below "Private Demos Now Available". Your experience running a demo on our web site will be exactly the same as running your own installation. If you have any trouble with the shared demo, or a private demo, please use the "Contact Us" link above and tell us what happened. We can normally fix issues with the demos the same day.
If you want to use a commercial server please do not use GoDaddy. Their servers seem to be overwhelmed and trying to use the admin interface is terribly frustrating.
This is a very quick demonstration video showing operation of our demo installation. You can use the demo any time starting from the link near the bottom of this page. If the shared demo gets too messed up please send me a message and I will reset it.
Financial Features Video
A lot of people have been watching the quick introduction video so I decided to make another one focusing on the deposit slip. I get a lot of questions about the financial features of ChurchInfo and this video answers many of the most common questions. If you would like to see more videos for other subjects please use the contact link to send me email.
This new video shows the latest version of ChurchInfo being installed on a free server service.
These two videos take you through the entire process of installing on a commercial server. These videos are older and the server services have improved since the videos were made. The free server installation above is more representative of modern server services.
Private Demos Now Available
We can now host private demo installations to facilitate your evaluation process. These demo installations are created in randomly named directories. The purpose of these private demos is to give you a chance to experiment in your own space. You can enter a little data, show your minister and your treasurer how it works, without having to worry about someone changing the admin password or deleting half the menu options. Your demo space will be private but not particularly secure or permanent. Please don't put a lot of work into it as it will be deleted in about a week unless you ask for more time. Assuming your evaluation goes well please plan to download and install in your own world as soon as possible.
Please don't put nonsense for contact information. Your contact information will only be used to communicate about ChurchInfo and will not be shared or sold for any other purpose. If you put nonsense in the Private Demo Form your demo will probably be recycled soon and you will get Error 404 page not found while trying to use your private demo.
To get started with your private demo use this link: Private Demo Form
If you have any trouble with the private demo please use the "Contact us" link at the top of the page and tell us what happened. We should be able to fix it for you.
To our international users
You can set the language by changing sLanguage in Admin->Edit General Settings. ChurchInfo currently supports the following settings: de_DE (German), en_AU (Australian English), fr_FR (French, not updated recently), it_IT (Italian, not updated recently), nl_NL (Dutch), pt_BR (Brazilian Portuguese), sv_SE (Swedish). If you would like to develop a new translation please let me know!
Try our Demo
We have a demo installation of the latest version 1.2.14 available here
Feel free to play with this database to see if ChurchInfo will work for your church. The passwords for this demo database are: “demoadmin” for Admin, “seemoney” for JohnFinancial, and “nomoney” for SuzieNotFinancial. This new version connects to the Google geocoder, which has better international support than the previous geocoder. There are many bug fixes and minor enhancements. See the links below if you find a bug or want to discuss an issue.
The demo sites includes a simple connection to schedule group meetings in WebCalendar, available here: http://www.churchdb.org/WebCalendar-1.2.6.
Help Test The Very Latest from the Development Team
There is an automatically updated installation directly from our Git source control server here. Please play with this version and report any issues in the bug trackers. Log in with user name admin, password demoadmin. No other logins are configured automatically. If you prefer to take the very latest to your own playground this installation archive .tar.gz file is updated nightly: churchinfo-latest.tar.gz.
Simple Installation on Windows
I often get request from people who want to quickly install ChurchInfo on a computer running Windows. This is a great way to get started and experiment, although the real power of ChurchInfo is best appreciated when it is running on a server and accessed from multiple different computers. I use this procedure to install ChurchInfo for experimenting or development on a Windows laptop.
I have had good luck hopping back and forth between this stand-alone installation as a real server, simply using phpMyAdmin to back up and restore the database.
Here are the step-by-step instructions:
Install xampp for Windows. This provides Apache, PHP and MySQL. I tell it to run Apache and MySQL as services.
Unpack the churchinfo directory from the distribution into the directory C:\xampp\htdocs\churchinfo
Use Firefox or Chrome to browse to: http://localhost
Click the phpMyAdmin link
Select the Privileges tab
Press Add a new user
Set User name to "churchinfo", Host to "localhost", Password to "churchinfo", Re-type to "churchinfo", enable "create database and assign all priviledges; them press Go (bottom-right)
Select the new churchinfo database from the link to the left
Select the Import tab
Navigate to C:\xampp\htdocs\churchinfo\SQL\Install.sql and choose this file
Press the Go button
Now browse to: http://localhost/churchinfo
Log in with user name "admin", password "churchinfoadmin"
It will ask you to change the password immediately.