Blackbaud Gears Up for Next Enterprise CRM Release

This was a big week for the Nasdaq-listed Blackbaud: The company announced its plans to acquire Convio, which offers a fund-raising application for nonprofits, for US$275 million.


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The feature sets of the Convio application and Blackbaud’s CRM software for the nonprofit space are complementary, to a large degree. The newly acquired technology will help Blackbaud further develop its user base, Eric de Jager, director of product management, told CRM Buyer.

For the moment, however, the next biannual upgrade to Blackbaud’s enterprise CRM app, which will be rolling out in the spring, is de Jager’s main focus.

“We have made a number upgrades that will be important to our users,” he said.

A Category in Flux

Fund-raising for nonprofits is in a state of flux, explained VP of Marketing Diana Krupa — and their CRM software needs to change with those trends.

“More and more, we are seeing that online communications are complementing traditional channels, such as the direct marketing appeal, for fund-raising [and] constituent services,” she told CRM Buyer.

In general, Blackbaud has been enhancing its CRM application to take these numerous channels into account, Krupa said.

For example, in its last upgrade, it made functional improvements to the app — for example, with its auditing and publication workflow for pages and content. It also provided more channels of support to such fund-raising revenue streams as planned gifts, sponsorships and gifts in kind.

Expanding Membership Capabilities

The goal of the upcoming release is to expand membership support capabilities, de Jager said, noting that “it is a comprehensive update that addresses the membership programs across a wide range of our clients.”

Such clients vary from higher education institutions with sophisticated alumni outreach programs to other types of organizations that rely solely on straightforward marketing to raise funds.

“This range encompasses many varying degrees of complexity, and we made a significant investment to support all of these activities,” de Jager noted. For instance, some organizations focus their campaigns around “due dates” — e.g., a sponsor who joins a group and has annual dues that must be renewed.

Others memberships may be based on what a supporter has donated. Enhancements to the analytics will allow users to better target sponsors based on their wealth or giving capacity, their affiliations, and their relationships with other donors.

Blackbaud Social

Blackbaud is also ratcheting up its social media functionality with Blackbaud Social, a module that enables organizations to build their own social networks. These are best suited for health-related organizations, de Jager said, such as a cancer society that wants to found a group for survivors to network online.

Another feature, “Friends Asking Friends,” will allow event participants to use their own social networks to launch peer-to-peer fund-raising campaigns via email, social media and mobile tools.

“What we are building is a multichannel view for users that helps them connect in as many ways as possible with their constituents,” de Jager said.

Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.

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