Frequently Asked Questions
Once you’ve walked through a demo with an account representative, you may request access to a demo site you can explore in your own time before migrating over to Realm.
Realm provides you with administrative, financial, and engagement tools in a single solution. Realm is a true cloud-based solution that can be accessed from any device. And we’ve introduced new features, such as Pathways, which allow you to help people grow spiritually and take next steps in serving in your church. We’re simplifying reporting with Dashboards and easy-to-use queries. And finally, Realm is built to serve your ministry by helping drive actions your church would naturally perform in connecting with your community.
- Multi-list profile fields
- Enhanced family management
- Enhanced paid event functionality
- Enhanced Dashboards
- Seamless, integrated online giving/text giving
- Better attendance tracking (and it’s in the mobile apps, too!)
- Group member engagement and communication (Realm Connect & Multiply)
- Easy-to-use check-in
- Customizable check-in kiosks
- Singular, simple group structures (no more classes, activities, and small groups)
- Singular login for Realm and Realm Accounting
- New core account structure in Realm Accounting
Yes. Realm replaces Access ACS as it includes:
- Event registration (and payments if you are using Realm eGiving)
- Viewing the church’s event list in the Realm Connect mobile app
- Adding and editing profiles at any time through the Realm Connect mobile app or using your mobile browder
- Scheduling volunteers in Realm
- Viewing, updating, and communication with your Serving Teams through the Realm Connect mobile app
- Connecting members and attendees with ministry opportunities, such as joining a group or volunteering to serve
Realm does not require data changes to be approved and synced. Any updates made within Realm happen in real-time and you can view updates and changes in the Change Log.
Realm does not provide mass mailing services. You can create and print mailing labels for any list in Realm.
As technology is so prevalent, Realm encourages communication via email, text, and push notifications in the Realm Connect mobile app so you can reach your people wherever they are and alleviate your spending around mass mailings.
No, Realm would replace ACS. We can certainly help you weigh the differences, and if you decide to switch, our team will help you make the transition and import your current data into Realm.
Realm is a web application delivered through your browser, so you can log into it from practically any mobile device’s or computer’s browser (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge). It’s the most accessible application we have ever developed and every screen automatically adjusts to the screen size you’re using.
Realm is already a powerful tool, but we’re adding more to it everyday. We have a team of over 80 people just working on its development. There is a release every two weeks, and major features are released quarterly. Thousands of churches are using it to manage their ministries and operations.
Financials and Giving
No. We have customers now who have transitioned to Realm and are currently using ACS Financials. We’ve built an export for donations from Realm to import into ACS Financials. The main reasons customers choose this path is if they use accrual basis, GL or AP import transactions, or advanced GL reports with lots of comparison data columns in ACS. We are working on developing accrual accounting in Realm.
There is no sync between ACS Financials and Realm. If you were to continue using ACS Financials, you would need to export your contributions from Realm and import them into ACS Financials. You would also need to be sure to do refunds, voids, or any other data changes in both systems to ensure accuracy. With Realm Accounting, you can automatically post contributions to your general ledger and make edits, voids, etc. in both contributions and accounting at the same time. Your contribution information for up to the last 10 years can transition with you to Realm, so you will not need to maintain two databases.
In Realm Accounting, your core accounts are organized below their account headings: Assets, Liabilities, Net Assets, Revenues, and Expenses. Under each heading, you may have subheadings and core accounts and utilize custom account segments to track even more. During your migration, our implementation team will help you transition your chart of accounts to Realm Accounting.
No. Abundant is the eGiving platform integrated with ACS today. Realm eGiving is the giving platform built directly into Realm. They do share many similarities such as giving forms and text keywords. However, we’ve recently updated our giving forms with new features and design options, as well as adding online pledging and pledge forms.
Yes. You can scan multiple checks at once to automatically match gifts with your contributors. You can review and edit what was scanned as needed, and confidence indicators alert you if a check’s readability wasn’t clear. The following check scanners are supported:
- Canon CR-50
- Canon CR-80
- Canon CR120
- Canon CR150
System requirements: Windows computers only
You can view the check scanners and purchase them in our online store.
Vanco, our merchant account provider, offers the Swipe card reader. It is compatible with Apple and Android devices. Payments made using Swipe can be imported into Realm.
Conversion, Launch, and Training
Yes, we can convert the data from ACS to Realm. There is no charge for that. For ACS People, we convert profiles (including individual pictures), comments, and groups. Other data may be converted on a per request basis. We can convert up to 5 years of attendance history and up to 10 years of giving history. For ACS Financials, we convert the GL chart of accounts, up to 3 years of detailed transaction history (with summarized history per year prior to that), Accounts Payable vendors, and invoices. Access ACS online gifts and recurring gifts can also be converted.
For ACS People to Realm: approximately 3-5 business days
For ACS Financials to Realm Accounting: approximately 3-5 business days
For ACS Pay Plus to Realm: approximately 2 business days
For Access ACS to Realm: approximately 3-5 business days
Custom conversions may take longer than 5 days.
These are the main things to keep in mind when making this decision:
- All contributions should be posted or cleared before sending the data for conversion. Your data will not be converted if there are unposted contributions.
- Profiles in Realm cannot be deleted if they have any contribution history, but they can be deleted in the ACS People Suite if they have not given in the last 24 months.
- Deactivate any groups you do not want to convert.
- In Checkpoint, post the attendance from your Checkpoint sessions.
Post-conversion, you will receive a spreadsheet from your Implementation Specialist with conversion notes to guide you if there is still data cleanup needed.
Yes, as long as there is no serious data corruption. A Data Conversion Specialist will review your data. If there is corrupt data, an Implementation Specialist will contact you to discuss the options.
We may be able to merge multiple ACS People Suite or Membership Plus databases into one Realm site. We will need to preview the data before we are able to confirm this. It will not cost anything extra, but it will cause the conversion to take up to 15 business days.
You will have to clean up data before or after the conversion. The biggest issue we see when merging two datasets is duplicate individuals. If you have duplicate individuals between the two datasets, you will have to manually resolve these post-conversion.
Multiple ACS Financial Suite datasets cannot be merged, and only one dataset can be converted to Realm Accounting at this time.
We call this the “post-conversion call,” during which we review where your data landed in Realm, give you a brief orientation of Realm, and give you the tools to move forward using Realm.
Be sure to include everyone on staff who handles the data that is converting. If you are converting accounting data, be sure to invite the person who handles accounting at your church. If you are converting People data and your administrative assistant handles that data more than anyone, be sure to include him/her in the conversation. This will ensure you are getting the best check possible on your data.
Become familiar with Realm basics. Visit MinistrySmart and complete the Navigating Realm and Settings I courses to learn the basic navigation functions so you are able to navigate during the post-conversion call quicker and easier.
A move to Realm from ACS is a transition. It can be a bit different, depending on the ACS solutions you have in place currently. If you only use the ACS People suite, without using Access ACS, there would be a launch process designed to involve members. We can help and provide resources for success.
If you have launched Access ACS to your congregation, it would involve a re-launch to your congregation. However, we believe the new tools in Realm will create excitement and anticipation, and we are working on tools to help you transition accounts from Access ACS to Realm. While a move to Realm is a transition, it’s not a full re-launch because an individual’s data is already there. They’ll need to enter a new password (and download a different app if they use the ACS ChurchLife app), but their groups, personal information, family information, giving information, and even their barcodes for check-in will already be there.
We offer many training solutions to guide you as you learn and implement Realm. These include on-site training, virtual training, training schools, and our new online learning tool called MinistrySmart that you will have access to inside of Realm. You can find more information about these training options here.
While Realm is in the cloud, it is not the “cloud version” of ACS. ACS serves as a staff-focused church management software, providing your staff the tools they need to do ministry. However, Realm’s purpose is to connect your entire church like never before! Using what we’ve learned for the past 40 years, we’ve built Realm with the staff first in mind but with new and modern ways to stay connected as a church family. This is why certain features work differently in Realm than in ACS.
No. The Connect app’s purpose is to do exactly what it says…connect! While the app does work seamlessly with your Realm database, it is a congregant-focused tool that serves as the way your staff and congregation can communicate and stay involved with your ministries while on the go. You can find more details about Realm’s Connect app here.
No. If you like using ACS People, ACS Financials, Access ACS, and ACS ChurchLife and they meet your needs, you can keep using them. Although we are continuing to add features to ACS, they will be smaller and less frequent than updates in the past.
There are no plans to sunset any of the ACS suite of products. However, Realm already has more than 8,000 churches on it, and more are being added daily. It is built on newer technology and is more robust than ACS. We expect ACS customers moving to Realm will tell us if and when it’s ever appropriate to sunset the ACS suite of products.