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blackbaudThe need for analytical data is growing daily. Whether it’s to predict how much money donors will give, or monitor the average hours their volunteers work; nonprofits are constantly benefiting from the use of analytical software that can be found in various Blackbaud products. Today, many CRMs like Raiser Edge NXT incorporate analytics into their software because of the important part it plays in measuring how successful a nonprofit organization is or to identify new ways to increase donorship or volunteer service.


According to the VP of Data and Analytics at Blackbaud, Steve MacLaughlin, “Over the past 24 months we have done a little bit of a shift in our thinking and how we deliver both data and analytics to organizations. While they do have software that solely tracts analytics and data, some of their other products have analytic tools embedded in their software.

In Use:
The Raiser Edge NXT can pull numerous reports for customers enabling them to better run their business.  While users can create their own data and reports, Blackbaud builds lists into the applications that they think their users may want. Examples include a list of donors’ birthdays, donor retention rates, and pipeline management. Recently, the Raiser Edge NXT introduced a new way to analyze data in which they map it as opposed to putting that data into a list. Since implementing this ability they’ve seen that their user usage has steadily increased. MacLaughlin suggests it’s because, “people digest information in different ways.” The information on the map is easier for some customers to comprehend as opposed to a list or a bar graph.

Ease of Use:
From the analytic pages that I saw, the user face is very similar to other analytical tools that I have used in the past. The graphs and charts come in numerous varieties and the user face itself is clean. While many customers believe the Raiser Edge NXT is easy to use, there are other customers who are frustrated with the software and do not necessarily think it’s all that easy to use. Kristen from Children First, Inc wrote on Softwareadvice.com that she liked “the ability to identify each donor with a constituent code, which makes it very convenient to pull reports on specific groups of people who donate (like volunteers, board members, or staff). “ She goes on to write, “With the ability to see giving trends in multiple ways, data analysis is much more comprehensive and quicker to review than with other similar software types I have used.” On the other hand Jenna from Audubon Nature Institute wrote, “The software is not very user friendly for non-data minded individuals” and suggests an organization has one person dedicated solely to this product- a commodity that many nonprofits cannot afford.

Technology Needed:
Users can access their information from anywhere making it easy for them to look at data on the go. This comes in especially handy for meetings or when questions arise and need to be answered as soon as possible. Blackbaud offers potential clients a demo and it’s always recommended that users interested in the CRM test out the software before committing ensuring that they pick the very best product for their company.

Recap:
For over 20 years, Blackbaud has been creating new products and solutions to make the lives of nonprofits easier and more efficient. While they do have specific analytics products, some of their products incorporate analytics into the software. By running reports and analyzing information, nonprofits are better equipped to make smart choices for their organizations. One of these tools is their CRM platform, Raiser Edge NXT which constantly updates the different types of reports and lists that customers can export.

Advantages:

  • Looking to expand analytics into other solutions such as event management

  • Customer service is very knowledgeable about the products and the capabilities

  • Because Blackbaud has been in existence for 20+ years, they know what type of analytics a nonprofit is looking for and develops answers before they’re even asked

  • Disadvantages

  • Blackbaud’s products are known to be expensive. There is no one-set price as there are numerous add-ons and maintenance fees associated with the cost of the platform.

  • Numerous users complain about bugs in the system

  • Users complain that the software and reporting tools are not user friendly and takes awhile to comprehend.

  • My Opinion:
    Talking to MacLaughlin, it was clear to me how excited he was about the analytical capabilities that nonprofits could benefit from purchasing Blackbaud’s products such as the Raiser Edge NXT. Having a leader that believes in the product is very important and can be hard to find. There’s no denying that Blackbaud has been extremely successful in the past 20 years, but with more and more competition, they have to make sure that their products are easier to use, smartly priced, and taught in a way that anyone in a nonprofit can understand since professionals in the nonprofit world are known to wear many hats.

    I was really impressed with the ability to map data. I’m a very visual learner and seeing the information mapped out is easier for me to process then a set of lists of a bar chart. It’s these ideas that keep Blackbaud visible in the nonprofit community and it’s why many customers chose to stay with them year in and year out.


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    Danielle Loughnane

    Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.

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