Religious schools have a unique set of needs when it comes to managing programming and communicating with families.
Online registration tools offer the resources to make things go smoothly and the customization to meet the unique needs of every religious school, including Sunday Schools, Hebrew Schools, confirmation programs and more.
So what makes online registration tools the right option and what should religious school administrators look for when choosing a registration software package for their religious programs?
About Registration Providers
Before getting to your needs and how different registration companies can meet them, it’s helpful to understand how pricing works.
Monthly Pricing vs. Annual Pricing
If you will use the system, including managing your students, actively registering and communicating with parents more than 6 months out of the year, an annual plan is always the best option. Generally registration companies offer a discount on an annual plan when looking at total cost, plus additional freebies when you select the annual plan.
If you only use the system a few months out of the year, it’s always great if a service provider offers month to month options so you don’t lock yourself in to a contract for a longer period of time.
Registration Features You Need
Don’t get overwhelmed by the long list of features a registration software provider lists. Think first about your process and what you need a software to help you automate and support your day to day tasks.
Once you have your list, it will be easier to evaluate a list of features to pinpoint what you need and if the software can meet your needs.
Below are some important features for every religious school!
There are a few basic but make-or-break needs that any religious school has and that any online registration package should be able to handle.
Records and Record Keeping
Perhaps the most basic administrative need is the ability to create, store, and organize records.
Any registration software provider should provide these services in some way but they will usually handle these tools in different ways.
Look for a registration software that includes form templates and guides to make creating the projects you need simple.
Also, be sure to understand how they handle other issues like storing, accessing, organizing and searching forms through their platform.
Reporting tools are also important. The ability to filter and find specific data you need, and then create a report (like a roster for teachers or allergy report for your school nurse) is key to automating tasks.
It is also important to understand how the registration software handles the forms that you keep as many of these, such as legal waivers and medical information, may be sensitive.
Ask the registration provider for their security protocols. If you are accepting payments through the system, ensure the software is PCI compliant.
A registration software that allows online payments is vital. Research shows that offering payments directly in the registration process will increase your cash flow 25%+.
Part of online payments is the flexibility to make them. Does the software allow for monthly payments? Does the system automatically charge on payment due dates so all you have to do is watch money deposit into your account?
Lastly, can you accept a wide variety of credit cards as well as accepting online checks? Offering more payment options lowers your non-payment rate and helps streamline your cash flow.
Messaging & Email Tools
There are a lot of tools that offer online messaging and most of them are free.
However, using messaging incorporated to your registration software can make things a lot easier by linking messaging to other records and information that are stored in the registration software. This makes it easier to manually sort accounts to send emails but it also makes it easier to automate messages to, say, send emails to accounts that are behind on payments, &c.
Many users will have multiple children. The ideal registration software will allow families to handle the needs of multiple children through a single account. This is a great user friendly feature that parents enjoy (less forms to fill out!) and makes organizing and managing families easier on the admin side.
Finding the best registration software for a religious school means looking at a lot of different metrics. The good news is that there are a lot of registration software options available and these can definitely make life easier for religious school administrators.