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Luminate - Software Review

softwarereview-150Luminate is a complete CRM and online engagement suite that helps organizations manage and cultivate supporters through every stage of engagement, from prospects and volunteers to donors, advocates, event fundraisers, corporate supporters, and beyond. It combines the leading online fundraising tools with a powerful CRM and analytics suite, to consolidate supporter data and manage a wide variety of an organization's relationships.

  • Luminate CRM includes:
    • Contact/donor relationship tracking
    • Transaction processing
    • Batch gift entry
    • Designated, recurring, pledge, and other gift types
    • A data warehouse with analytics capabilities
    • Event management
    • Volunteer management
  • Luminate Online includes
    • Online fundraising, ecommerce, and honor/memorial giving
    • Email marketing
    • Event registration and ticket sales
    • Surveys
    • Social sharing
    • Content Management*
    • TeamRaiser peer-to-peer fundraising tools*
    • Action alerts*

* Optional add-ons

Luminate CRM and Luminate Online are sold together and as standalone products.

In Use

Luminate offers a complete set of online and CRM capabilities, so staff throughout an organization can meet their differing objectives:

  • Fundraisers can use it to cultivate and drive donations through integrated campaigns bridging traditional direct response, mobile, events, and online giving channels.
  • Major donor and other specialized fundraisers can use the CRM to identify prospects, track relationships, and cultivate them according to custom processes - with all the data available via a mobile device.
  • Communications staff can use it to manage web content, send emails, and engage supporters in social media outreach.
  • Events staff can mobilize volunteer fundraisers through walks, runs, and other fundraising events using TeamRaiser® - a peer-to-peer fundraising tool that the company touts as being used by the most successful event fundraising organizations and built on the Luminate Online platform.
  • IT staff will appreciate the ease with which they can customize the tool for different business users and can integrate applications from among the thousands available on the AppExchange.
  • Organizations with affiliates and chapters can use Luminate to enable chapter staff, while keeping clean lines between various communications assets and supporter data.

Technology employed

Luminate is a SaaS, cloud-based solution. It is optimized to use "the right tool for the job" so that nonprofits get the best possible performance and exceptional reliability. It is fully integrated so that data is kept up-to-date, whether it is entered online or through the CRM.

Luminate CRM starts with's Force platform - the leading commercial CRM tool available today - and adds functionality designed to meet the unique needs of nonprofits, such as secure donation processing, an array of gift types, integrated direct response campaigns, event management, and volunteer management. Because it is built on the Force platform, organizations have access to thousands of applications available on the AppExchange. Luminate CRM also includes a data warehouse which extends to provide support for direct response and advanced analytical processes.

Luminate Online, the original product of Convio - now a Blackbaud company - includes a number of tools a nonprofit needs to succeed online, including: email marketing with industry leading deliverability, social integration and mobile content, peer-to-peer and volunteer fundraising, legislative advocacy tools, and a range of other online giving tools. In the near future, Luminate Online will also offer integration to other Blackbaud products, including The Raiser's Edge and Blackbaud CRM.

Luminate offers a variety of APIs, allowing users to customize Luminate and end user tools to meet their unique visions. Additionally, the system allows for multiple centers to support the needs of federated organizations.

Ease of Use

Luminate is designed with the user in mind. Because it's built on the Force platform, Luminate CRM can be configured for easy adoption by a variety of user types based on your business needs. Luminate Online includes templates and a simplified email tool for beginning users, but allows flexibility and configuration options for advanced users who want more control. Deployment costs and timelines vary based on the selected toolset and needs. Training and support are free.

Blackbaud also offers a unique guided program called "Go!" that provides small and medium sized organizations purchasing Luminate Onlie with group coaching and technical services over the course of their first year on the product to ensure their success.


Luminate is a comprehensive tool that offers a whole lot of power to nonprofit organizations.  In addition to tracking donors, it also allows you to mine for information regarding prospects.  It takes great advantage of technology, keeping pace with changes and advances such as providing access via mobile devices and offering a variety of apps.

Luminate is sold using a subscription model and is priced based on the number of constituent records managed. An advantage of this is that you can give many staff members access to the tools they need and all data will reside in a single, integrated system.

Organizations using Luminate CRM will also need Enterprise users seats. For 501c3s the first 10 seats can be obtained at no cost through the Foundation and additional seats are available at deeply discounted rates.


  • Full-featured, comprehensive, integrated toolset for managing supporter relationships
  • Can consolidate data from across your organization
  • Proven online fundraising capabilities
  • Open and flexible platform and available APIs
  • Employs the industry leading CRM platform, giving users access to a substantial number of available apps
  • Established company with great depth of knowledge of nonprofit practices


  • Ongoing costs
  • May be too much for small organizations

My Opinion

Luminate and Luminate Online come across as really powerful tools that can do a whole lot for an organization.  While it may be a little overpowered for smaller nonprofits, it has the capability to offer numerous functions across the organization, giving everyone access to one place that houses the information they need to do their jobs.  It really does seem to have something for just about everyone, and the configuration options seem to provide even more flexibility for specific departments and even individual users.

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