Blackbaud Answers the Tough Questions.

It’s no secret that Blackbaud’s Acquisitions department has had a busy year. Some acquisitions in particular have resulted in clients questioning how to interpret Blackbaud’s approach to solution development and ongoing support.  Rather than jump into the rumor mill, we decided to invite Jana Eggers, Blackbaud’s Senior Vice President of Products and Marketing, to answer these tough questions directly. The interview proved to be revealing and educational…  

1) Blackbaud has a significant history of acquiring competing products.  Kintera, Common Ground, Noza, etc.  Many of the acquired solutions were dissolved, their customers transitioned to other Blackbaud products.  How can clients currently utilizing Salesforce.com-based Convio products, like Luminate, be assured this won't happen to them?

Blackbaud has a strong track record of supporting and continuing to develop acquired products, like Sphere, Everyday Hero and NOZA to name a few. eTapestry, acquired in 2007, recently hit a new milestone, with more than 5000 customers. Adoption of that product is growing at double the rate it did before we acquired it!

The Common Ground decision was very difficult and when we made it, we were open with customers and the market about the reasons. We provided customers with migration offers and support.

As you noted in your earlier post, we are integrating Luminate Online and TeamRaiser with Blackbaud CRM and The Raiser’s Edge. This is an extension of Luminate Online, not impacting what we see as the market for Luminate CRM and the Luminate Suite. 

Luminate CRM is the premier CRM solution for nonprofit organizations that desire an integrated, multi-channel engagement toolset built on the Salesforce platform. There is a strong demand from nonprofits for this platform and we want to serve them. In case you missed it at bbcon (The Blackbaud User Conference), WE HEART SALESFORCE

The Luminate Suite, including Luminate CRM, Luminate Online, and TeamRaiser was the key reason for the acquisition. Our goal is to make multi-channel marketing a reality for nonprofits, and this suite is key to that goal.

Since you referenced Luminate CRM specifically, I will note that we are committed to further extending Luminate CRM and have some exciting releases planned for the coming months. In 2013, our investment focus for Luminate CRM is around strengthening the integration with Luminate Online and extending data warehouse reporting and analytical features – both focused on the multi-channel marketing goal. 

Lastly, nothing speaks louder than results. Clients that use Luminate CRM and Luminate Online to drive their multi-channel fundraising and engagement strategies are experiencing improvement in acquiring, retaining, and cultivating supporters.  Canadian Cancer Society Saskatchewan saw their online revenue increase by 40 percent and experienced an 84 percent increase in their direct mail revenue, as detailed in this recent case study.

2) eTapestry seems to be the go-to recommendation within Blackbaud for refugee Common Ground clients. There are many objective reports that posit eTapestry is not as robust a solution as Common Ground. How would you respond?

We created special offers for the Common Ground clients to migrate to Luminate CRM, The Raiser’s Edge and eTapestry. With each client, our team discussed their individual needs. We have had customers migrate to each of these solutions. Based on the number and the size most customers did choose The Raiser’s Edge or eTapestry. Some clients found eTapestry to be easier to manage and roll out, while we understand others wanted more features and thus were willing to trade off with simplicity. Those would be clients we would recommend that they go to The Raiser’s Edge or Luminate CRM. It really all depended on the client.

3) Considering Blackbaud's acquisition of a solution built on the Salesforce platform, can the nonprofit community expect another acquisition of a similar solution (Causeview, Affinaquest, PatronManager etc.) on the horizon?  If not, why not?

We have stated that we are not current planning any acquisitions; we are focused on the current integration. We will always be open to considering opportunities as they come to us, or as we see needs in the market we need to cover.

4) As nonprofit technology continues its course toward a more open source, platform-based application and integration model and Blackbaud continues its push toward turnkey, proprietary ecosystems, how does Blackbaud intend to stay relevant?

Turnkey and proprietary are not the enemy of open or platform. Salesforce.com is not open source; it is a proprietary platform, for example. We see different needs in the marketplace for solutions. Some folks want more open, some folks want less complexity. Our goal is to provide both, and in some cases both in the same offering, like with the Luminate Suite.  

We are focusing on offering multi-channel marketing across platforms – integration is becoming our middle name!

We’re committed to working with our technology partners, third-party developers, and customers to further extend our platforms to best meet nonprofits’ needs, as innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

5) What's to come for Blackbaud?  Is there a particular area of interest that Blackbaud is considering getting involved with?

Never has the need for a full 360-degree view of a supporter been more crucial. Donors are both being more selective in the nonprofits they support and using multiple channels (and devices!) to engage the organizations they support. Nonprofits must engage with donors on their terms and leverage social and mobile technology to deliver the best constituent experience.

And to support that, we are leveraging the information and experience we have in the sector to show data analytics and insights within our software that help drive actions and outcomes to increase fundraising success. And of course, that includes incorporating that into Luminate CRM. ;-)

Idealist Consulting has helped many clients transition from Blackbaud products to Salesforce. If you're looking into taking on this kind of technology project, we wrote a whitepaper to help you through it. Click the link below to go download the best strategies for preparing for technology change. 

Go to the whitepaper

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