Fifteen years ago, women lived in Juicy velour tracksuits and Baby-G watches. Men sported bleached tips and cargo pants. Tuesday and Wednesday evenings were reserved for “American Idol”. During commercial breaks, people might remember to check out the biggest social networking platform of the time—Myspace. Facebook was just a weird fad for college students to “poke” one another. A small video sharing website called “YouTube” was created. And Blockbuster was still alive and well.
It was during this time that someone had a eureka moment. He took a napkin and quickly scratched out a design for an online tool that summer camps could use. This moment and many others like it grew into what would now be known as Sunergo.
Back then, churches were facing a challenge. As web-based technologies began to improve and be adopted, churches needed websites to reach a wider audience. However, it was difficult to find expertise in the area of web development. Even if one was found, it was very expensive to hire a developer to build a custom site. Churches simply couldn’t afford it.
Besides the need for websites, churches were struggling with data and records. Contacts and giving information were simply kept in paper format as spreadsheets. And often on only one computer with limited backup and accessible by one or a few individuals. If any of these people left the church, information would be lost. Producing year end donation receipts from paper records was a nightmare.
Many of us were approached by personal contacts who asked for help to build websites for their churches.
We were tech nerds. Web developers.
We were also heavily involved in various ministries at our local churches: children and youth ministries, worship team, treasurer, tech crew, media and communication, and lay preaching. As a result of our collective experience, we understood what it was like to do ministry. We knew what tools could help make church management and administration much, much easier.
So, we began to have an idea.
What if we could design systems and online tools that can be used by more than one church? A system that can meet all the needs of any church?
At an affordable price.
That became our calling. We were deeply passionate about using our God-given gifts for kingdom work and right in front of us was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. We decided to create a truly comprehensive solution for churches. To provide all the tools that a church would ever need—website, event registration, online giving, text to give, communication, receipting, Canadian data storage, and more.
We also knew that as a Canadian company, we were in a position to meet the unique needs of Canadian churches. We understood Canadians because we were Canadians and involved in ministries locally.
One of the most important considerations for Canadian churches is information storage. The Canadian Revenue Agency requires that all electronic data of registered charities, which includes churches, be kept on a Canadian server. This data includes governance documents, minutes from meetings of executives or members, and donation records. Even if these books and records can be accessed electronically in Canada from a remote server, CRA’s requirement has not been met because the server must be physically located in Canada.
Also, instead of using our often weaker Canadian dollar to pay for an American product, churches can now pay in Canadian dollars. No longer do Canadian churches have to worry about fluctuations in exchange rates on a regular basis.
Another headache we help address is donation receipting. Our formats follow CRA guidelines so churches can issue receipts with ease.
No matter how much we have grown over the past fifteen years, we always keep our mission to support churches front and centre. We pride ourselves in providing excellent customer support. We never give canned responses. We listen and then work to resolve client issues to the best of our ability. We take client feedback seriously, often developing software updates in response. Our most recent example is the “Return to Service” tool that will help churches manage attendance for in-person worship services.
Although Canada Day celebrations have come and gone, we at Sunergo continue to celebrate our identity as a Canadian non-profit company that serves Canadian churches. We may no longer wear velour tracksuits and rent movies from Blockbuster, but we still continue to use our technical expertise and heart for service to design affordable cutting edge online tools tailored to Canadian churches.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and reflects the opinion of the author. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on as professional advice. You should consult appropriate professionals for your specific situation.