Parsons' Membership Plus Deluxe 4.0

Reviewed by: Will Thompson, send e-mail
Published by: Parsons Technology, Inc., go to the web site
Requires: PC386, 8 MB RAM, Windows 3.x, CD-ROM, Mouse
MSRP: $129.00

"Membership Plus" is described as a "trusted, reliable and affordable church management software with [a] financial accounting package" and that's what it is. Considering that there are really five programs on the CD-ROM which seamlessly integrate into a total membership management program, the whole thing seem very affordable. Only time will tell for "trusted [and] reliable" but it never gave me a problem during review and I worked at trying to cause problems. Parsons' may be limiting their market by describing it as "church" management software as it can easily adapt to any organization that tracks members, meetings, finances and addresses. With 20 customizable data fields and over 200 pre-defined and custom reports, it could be used by a bowling league, baseball team, country club or parent-teacher group as well.

The first bonus you get with Parsons' "Membership Plus 4.0 " is "MoneyCounts 9.0", a "Quicken" look-alike bookkeeping program (Not surprising as Parsons' and Quicken are both owned by Intuit). Pop the CD-ROM into your drive and Windows95 automatically starts the install program and the other bonuses show up, Parsons' "Address Book 4.0", their "Interest Vision SE", and the Borland Database Engine Configuration Utility. These programs can be installed in Windows 95, 3.x or NT, just click on your choices and follow the on-screen instructions. This is very handy as the included manuals only have "Install from Disk" procedures and don't mention the CD-ROM at all, their only downfall. I just let Windows95 install everything in the default directories which was quick and painless. A last bonus on the CD-ROM is the multimedia tutorial, which requires a soundcard and speakers.

A Windows 3.11 install was almost as easy with a few more mouse clicks to get it going, still very easy. While it is possible to run everything on a '386 with only 8 meg of RAM, it is very slow. I'd recommend a Pentium with 16 megs of RAM as a practical minimum, especially when you have the three main programs running at once. The Borland Database Engine (BDE) Configuration Utility is used once to import from other Windows programs such as "dBase for Windows", "Excel", "Quattro Pro for Windows" or any other format using a standard dBase IV file format. It then runs in the background to connect the database files from each program and to export data to any other similar data format program. The hardest part of these programs is data input so this ability to import is very useful and easy to do. Otherwise, data entry is a lot of typing, tedious at best, so I just imported from a churches existing database and was running smoothly in no time.

Once set-up, "Membership Plus" is easy to use with it's "type once, entered in all programs" interface. With all its' custom fields, you can enter anything you want to keep track of for each member, even scanned photos. The amount of reports you can create is staggering and only limited by what you search for, assuming you have the data field set. The context-sensitive help and "wizards" assist you in creating reports, setting up groups, mail merge and even printing a pictorial directory for your members. Want to know how many single men over thirty-five attend your Tuesday night Bible Study more than ten times over the past eight months? How about women in the Friday bowling league with averages over 200, have two children in the nursery and have improved ten points? No problem, start a "wizard", input your criteria and click OK, you've got it. The hardest thing about "Membership Plus" is deciding what you want to track and how to print it! However it does provide simplified filters for basic to advanced reports to aid you.

With all its' features, perhaps the best way to get a feel for this program is to download the Membership Plus for Windows Demo available from Parsons. This 5.4 meg file will give you a an idea of how it works and integrates with MoneyCounts and AddressBook. These add-in programs deserve a full review themselves so I'll only say they work seamlessly with Membership Plus. Many of their program are available on-line so it's worth a visit. A handful of freebies, changed often, are also there and you can sign up for their catalog. All Parsons software is covered by a 30 day "satisfaction guarantee" so if you don't like it, send it back for a full refund. I'm not sure how this would work with downloaded software but I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem. I contacted Parsons via e-mail for technical support and received a prompt reply to my imaginary problem. I didn't have any problems so I made one up to test them. A test of the 800 order line showed the sales staff to be courteous, knowledgeable about all products and helpful in ordering. You can't lose with any Parsons product so I recommend checking out any software that may fit your needs. Membership Plus is going to the church I used for this review and they are looking forward to using it.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to:





© Copyright 2000-2006 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | forums | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe