By Melissa Minieri, TLGCS Office Manager & Bookkeeper
What is more fun than finding a new software or app that makes your life easier (especially when it’s free!)? I find strange joy in implementing new software in the synod office that helps us work together more efficiently and effectively. The great part about working with so many churches is that I get to hear from all of you what is working and helping you in your church offices. To keep these little golden nuggets of information going, I hope to pass these tips off to you a little each month. If you have tips to share please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sharing tips like this is one is one of the great benefits of 115 Lutheran congregations working together.
March’s Tip of the Month:
Several congregations are now using Dropbox (link to https://www.dropbox.com/) to help share files and information easily. To use it, all you have to do is download the free software from dropbox.com and set up an account. Follow the guide that the software will present as it is installed. Once installed, a folder will appear on your computer called DropBox. Whatever you put into the “Dropbox” folder will be backed up on the internet. Now if you want to make this data available to others then all you have to do is go to dropbox.com, login and click on the share tab. This will lead to a series of questions including the email of the person you wish to share this file.
Everyone who is invited to share the folder can see the contents of the folder and can take files out and put files in the folder. It becomes a holding place for whatever files and documents you are working on together. When you make changes, it automatically syncs everyone else’s folder (as long as you have internet access, although once they are synced you don’t need internet access to see the files). The more people with whom you invite to share the folder, the more space Dropbox gives you to use for free (up to seven Gbs). You can have several folders that you share with different people. You may have a folder that you share with the Music and Worship Team and then another folder that you share with the Stewardship Team. The real joy of Dropbox is that it works everywhere on just about anything. It can be installed on most mobile devices like Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and it can be installed on all the major operating systems from Apple, Microsoft and most forms of Linux. The Dropbox website is very simple and intuitive and the fact that the service is free is almost criminal for what they provide.
Several pastors have told me they are now using Dropbox in their congregations including Pastor Chris Lake (Tree of Life, Conroe) and Pastor David Hansen (St. John of Prairie Hill, Brenham). They use it to share bulletins that they are working on with the church secretary and also to hold music for the upcoming Sunday for the music team. Pastor Lake uses Dropbox to keep volunteers and paid staff working together in a collaborative effort for weekly worship. The basic principle is that folks are able to create and work on documents, like weekly powerpoint slides, which needs several sources of input prior to Sunday. On Sunday morning when Pastor Lake launches the 8:00 am worship service to project on the wall, it is already there because it was synced up on Friday when the last person finished the presentation.
Look for next month’s Tech Spot topic: How to get rid of your postage machine.