If you're switching from a different church management software, we will help you get started with Planning Center by walking you through how to create an account and add people!
Bookmark this page, so it’s easy to find later.
1. Sign Up for People
Like other church management software (ChMS), we break down our pricing by people; however, unlike other ChMS, we won't ask you to sign up for features you won't use.
When you sign up to create a Planning Center account, we recommend that you start only with the People product.
People is the central hub for Planning Center products and the place to add and access information for your entire congregation. Plus, it's always free!
To subscribe to People only, go to the signup page, remove all of the other products, and then click Sign up.
The email address and password you enter on this page is for you. Each person you give access to the account will receive their own login information.
2. Set Up Your Account
You should have received an email welcoming you to Planning Center right after you sign up. If you set up your account at that time, great! If you didn’t finish the account setup or haven’t started, this is the time to do it.
Accounts is the place for you to set up your account information. You will also go here to manage your Planning Center billing and subscriptions and add Organization Administrators.
The Setting Up a New Account article will help you through the setup process, which includes:
- Adding your organization information
- Setting up billing information
- Adding organization administrators and billing managers
When you’ve finished setting up your account, it’s now time to get your people added to the Planning Center database!
3. Import People Data
Planning Center People allows you to import your list of people without paying any setup fee. If you need help migrating your data, check out these services.
We know importing can be overwhelming, so our goal is to make sure it's comprehensive but simple for you to do! So, follow these three steps to import people to Planning Center:
- Clean Up Your CSV File
Many systems will generate CSV files with some unnecessary data in them, so make sure everything is entered correctly before starting your import.
- Verify the Fields
Look over Planning Center's default fields and create custom fields, such as schools and membership statuses, based on information you want to import.
- Import the File
Use the Data Importer to import the file into Planning Center.
Only people information can be imported into Planning Center. If you want other data to exist in your Planning Center database, you can use the following options:
Tips for Exporting Files From Another ChMS
We asked current Planning Center users in our Slack Community, most of whom have already switched from another system, and they gave us lots of good tips, some for other specific systems.
Here are some general tips:
- Reformat dates (birthdates, mainly) to match Planning Center date format that matches your Localization settings: YYYY-MM-DD, MM/DD/YYYY, or MM.DD.YYYY. If you don't have a year, simply leave it out.
- Some recommended breaking the CSV file into smaller pieces, but this depends on the number of people you're importing. If you break the CSV file into smaller pieces, most recommend exporting basic information first (first and last names, household IDs, contact information) and importing that information into People. Once this import is final, export the next important information to add to the profiles created in the "basic information" import.
- Your best friend in this process will be the “sort” feature in Microsoft Excel or Numbers, which allows you to separate out people by status, date last attended, etc.
Choose your ChMS to find some additional tips for importing.
- It could take 2-3 weeks to get data from FellowshipOne, so make sure to request that data in advance. You can also download either the X9400 or the P9400 v3.2report, which has all the necessary database information.
- Don't worry about the
remote_idfield, which isn't used in Planning Center.
- Export your attributes individually and add them to the spreadsheet by each exported column.
Include Inactive People
- Sort people by the Last Attended column, and then delete everyone on the list who has attended before the designated "inactive" date. Change the column title to Inactive and the cells to yes instead of the date.
- Create a custom field in People with Inactive as a yes or no question, and, after the import, create a list looking for people with that field.
- Perform an action to change the Membership Status toInactive.
This information was provided by a helpful user who recently made this transition.
- Click on reports.
- Type p9400, but choose v3.2 in the search window on the top right of the page.
- For all the group fields: Ignore This.
- For choose fields to display:
- Household Fields; Household ID and Home Phone
- Individual Fields; Select all fields
- Separated Email Columns? YES
- Separated Phone Columns? YES
- this1stAddress; Primary this will populate the next pull down
- these Fields for each Address; Select all except full address
- Choose an Output Type; Excel.
- Click Run Report.
- When the report is complete, download the file to your computer.
- Open in Excel and Save As a CSV file.
If more than one row is left for the headers, remove all rows that are column headers except for the first row.
- Use the Export Individuals CSV, which provides all people information.
- One person said they were only able to export 10 fields at a time, so setting up a spreadsheet to dump that information was the best way to get all the information.
- Terminology shift: CCB's Groups are Planning Center's lists.
Export the user data from the main group to a CSV.
Use custom lists to do a full database export to a CSV. In this export, you can choose which columns to exclude.
4. Subscribe to Additional Product
After you've added people to your database, you can start subscribing to additional products.
Go to the article on Rolling Out Planning Center Products to see the order in which we recommend that you subscribe to products and view the initial set up tasks to get you up-and-running with each product.
We have plenty of support available to assist you along the way.
- For step-by-step instructions on setting up and using each product, access our help articles from the support site or from the ? in the upper right corner in any product.
- Once you've started diving into a product and want more in-depth training on how to use it, check out Planning Center University, which has videos on best practices for each product.
- If you have any questions that can’t be answered in our docs or videos, feel free to contact our friendly Support Team. They are happy to help!
- Use the 30-day free trial to save you some money every time you add a new product.
- To get your team on board, follow this guide: Preparing to Use Planning Center with Your Staff