Whether you're just setting up your church finances or you're a large church with well established processes, it's important to know what Planning Center Giving was designed to do (and what it's not trying to do).
Planning Center Giving is designed to replace multiple donation systems
Currently, when it comes to working with donations, your church might have multiple systems in place. Batches of checks and cash might go into one piece of software, you may use a different service for your online donations, and you might even use another for mobile giving (an app, text-message giving, etc). To issue statements, you might need to combine records in spreadsheets or a mail merge.
Giving is meant to replace these systems.
The main value proposition of Planning Center Giving is to save you (and your donors) from having to use multiple donation systems. It's one system to process donations and track donor history. It doesn't matter how people give (a card, a bank account, a check) or where they give (on the desktop, on their smart phone, or via text message).
Giving doesn't attempt to synchronize or import systems which directly overlap.
Planning Center Giving won't replace your general ledger
Your bookkeeper probably already uses a general ledger for balancing the basic finances of your church. General ledger software, like Quickbooks, will still be used to manage your receivable and payable accounts. You'll still need this software to cut checks, manage payroll, balance your books with your bank, and account for other types of income (like ticket sales and merchant sales).
For an illustration of where Giving sits in relation to your general ledger, check out Giving and Your Bookkeeping.
Planning Center Giving tracks 100% deductible donations - not sales or reimbursements
Your organization may receive income from all sorts of avenues. You may sell baked goods at a fundraiser. You might run a thrift store where all the proceeds go to a homeless shelter. You may sell tickets to the youth summer camp. You may ask members of small groups to reimburse you for the purchasing of books.
The point is, all of these types of transactions are instances where someone is actually receiving some physical good or service. These transactions need to be entered into your general ledger (Quickbooks, Peachtree, etc) and tracked there. If a donor wants to pay $100 for a ticket to an event at your church and also wants to donate $50 to the New Building Fund, these need to be treated as two transactions- a sale and a donation. The donation is what will be tracked in Planning Center Giving.
Planning Center Giving is intended for non-profit, 501c3 organizations
Giving is designed to support the collecting, processing, and managing of donations for non-profit organizations. Our system is predicated on the notion that donors receive, as the IRS puts it, no goods or services in return for these contributions except intangible, religious benefits.
If this doesn't describe your organization, we don't advise using Planning Center Giving.