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Posted on Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Protestant churches offer market opportunity for Ann Arbor software firm ParishSOFT after acquisition

By Sven Gustafson


Bill Pressprich, chief executive officer of ParishSOFT, a church management software firm that just acquired its second-largest competitor, LOGOS CMS.

Melanie Maxwell I

An Ann Arbor maker of church management software expects to grow after its acquisition of a key competitor gives it a head start expanding into a new denominational market.

ParishSOFT LLC recently acquired Santa Paula, Calif.-based LOGOS Management Software Inc. for an undisclosed sum in a deal that sees it instantly gain market share in Protestant denominations. The deal also boosts the company’s presence in the Catholic Church, where it has traditionally focused its work.

“We’re already the most significant player in the Catholic space, but it really gets us further, and they have a couple products we don’t have and a couple people who have a lot of expertise around that,” said Bill Pressprich, ParishSOFT’s president and chief executive officer.

“But on the Protestant side, that’s an area that we’re looking to gain some competencies from, and they’re really good at it, from a product standpoint, from a marketing standpoint, selling it, and from a servicing standpoint. We really gain competencies there, and it should allow us to grow really rapidly.”

The company’s software allows churches to more efficiently manage membership, scheduling, volunteers, pastoral care, finance and administrative affairs from a single platform. It introduced a Web-based version in 2008.

Founded in 1998 by David Rosenberg, now an associate pastor at St. Andrew the Apostle in Saline, the company initially developed its software for the Catholic Church and now provides its software to nearly 7,000 Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, including 51 dioceses and archdioceses. Its software is currently powering the Archdiocese of Detroit’s $135 million Changing Lives Together capital campaign.

ParishSOFT also plans to incorporate closed social networking platforms for ministry groups, single mothers and other niche audiences within church customer groups, Pressprich said.

Steve Hewitt, the editor-in-chief and founder of Christian Computing Magazine, said the deal makes good sense for ParishSOFT as it looks to grow.

“It should send a signal to everybody who’s marketing to the Protestant side that they’re becoming a major player on this side,” he said.

LOGOS' software is used by about 4,500 churches, nearly half of which are Protestant, Pressprich said.

It’s difficult to gauge the size of the nonprofit U.S. church market. There are an estimated 300,000 churches, but half of them “are not really growing, viable churches,” Hewitt said. He estimates that between 100,000 and 150,000 use computers to manage parish operations.

“It’s a frustrating market, because all the different denominations, they don’t want to reveal information about how many churches are doing what, and a lot of churches are no longer affiliated with the denomination, so there’s no way to report,” Hewitt said. “So we’re almost just left with the government census polls and stuff like that.”

With the deal, LOGOS keeps its brand name as well as all of its sales, support and development staff while eliminating about 10 positions in fulfillment, IT and management, Pressprich said. ParishSOFT adds about 30 employees to its roughly 60-member staff, all but six of whom are based in Ann Arbor (the company also operates a Minneapolis-area office).

Pressprich, a practicing Catholic and former executive with Thomson Reuters division Creative Solutions, said the company projects hiring between five and 10 new staff members for each of the next three years.

“We want to incorporate the best features of both products and only have one set of products going forward,” he said. “There will be an extended transition with their existing products, we will continue to support them for quite a long period of time and then move people over to the new Web application.”

Contact freelance writer Sven Gustafson at sventg123(at)gmail(dot)com, or follow him on Twitter.



Thu, Oct 6, 2011 : 2:06 p.m.

There was a time when countries fought wars due to the conflict between the Catholic and Protestant religions. Now, they have been brought together, hand in hand, all to form a market for software. Inspiring.