With all of the videos, graphics, documents, and other items we use each week for ministry, file storage can be chaotic at best without a good electronic filing system.

Trying to maintain a server for your church staff’s files might not be the best fit for your team. Instead, consider using an online storage option that can grow with your team’s needs.

Option No. 1: Dropbox

With Dropbox, you can save files online and grant access to church staff and volunteers to everything or to specific folders as needed.

  • Basic: Free, single user
  • Standard: $12.50 per user/month, starting at 3 users
  • Advanced: $20 per user/month, starting at 3 users
  • Enterprise: Customizable

Option No. 2: G Suite

Google’s G Suite product includes storage plus the ability to use Google Docs, Sheets, presentations, email, calendars, and more.

  • Basic: $5 per user/month for 30 GB of storage
  • Business: $10 per user/month for unlimited storage
  • Enterprise: $25 per user/month — includes additional controls and capabilities

Option No. 3: OneDrive

Microsoft’s OneDrive includes various options for storing files and photos online. Some plans include Office 365 as well.

  • OneDrive for Business Plan 1: $5 per user/month includes file sharing and OneDrive storage
  • OneDrive for Business Plan 2: $10 per user/month includes file sharing and OneDrive storage plus additional security and compliance features
  • Office365 Business Premium: $12.50 per user/month includes file sharing and OneDrive storage plus Office applications

Simply using an online tool won’t solve all your storage challenges. While this should give you the space you need, if your team continually deals with trying to find specific files you might have an organization issue.

Here are a few online file organization tips:

Require staff and volunteers to save all church-related files on your preferred online storage system. You don’t want Susie Volunteer saving spreadsheets on her personal computer and emailing them to a staff member each month. Instead, have her save those spreadsheets on the church’s online storage system, so everyone with access to that folder has the latest version.

Organize files by ministry department, then by event or program within that department. Some form of standard file structure across departments will make it easier and more efficient to locate that graphic or document you need ASAP.

Archive or purge files periodically. At least annually, have everyone go through their department’s files and delete anything that was a draft and was never used, items that are no longer needed, etc. Make sure you’re following appropriate record retention rules (especially for financial or HR records) but clean up or reorganize periodically to ensure it’s easy to find what you need.

Keeping up with documents and media files can become a significant time-waster for your team. Providing a single location for everyone to save their files and giving them a file structure to use helps everyone be more productive and effective.