Time was, say back in the early 2000’s, when if you had Raiser’s Edge you had to go to Blackbaud for everything. Absolutely everything.
Need some training? Go on a Blackbaud classroom training course. Need someone to import some data for you? Ring Blackbaud and get one of their consultants in. Need Raiser’s Edge to do something different? Buy the RE:API.
But, slowly but surely, over the last few years, that’s been changing.
Blackbaud clients now have more options when they’re looking for training and consultancy – with companies like Purple Vision (that’s us!) in the UK – www.purple-vision.com, or Heller Consulting in the USA – www.teamheller.com – offering experience, capacity, independence and value for money that offers real competition to Blackbaud’s in-house professional services team. And there’s a legion of independent, one-man-band consultants out there too.
However, on the software side, things have moved a little more slowly – but there are now serious options for users that like Raiser’s Edge, but perhaps have needs that Blackbaud’s core offerings don’t cater for – or that are too expensive for!
One interesting company is Zeidman Development – www.zeidman.info – who offer supported customisations for Raiser’s Edge. In addition, their growing range of add-ons or ‘plugins’ offer tools that integrate with Raiser’s Edge and that often fill in the missing gaps in Raiser’s Edge functionality (there are also tools that work with other Blackbaud products such as Enterprise CRM and Blackbaud Direct Marketing)
One such product is ‘The Mergician’ – which offers the ability to merge files of multiple duplicate records – rather than the one-by-one merge record process that comes with the core product. This particular add-on comes with a price tag, but other downloads are freeware.
Of a different nature is a range of integrated modules from O-matic Software – a company based in Charleston, South Carolina (as are Blackbaud) – and who have a range of bits of kit that may prove to be a ‘Goldilocks’ solution for clients where things like Blackbaud Direct Marketing are just too big, complicated and expensive.
There three most popular tools for the UK market are Import-O-matic (touted as a more seamless, less clunky way of importing data into RE), Segment-O-matic (to help develop segments for direct marketing – sidestepping some of the limitations of the query tool) and RE Store (an integrated sales order processing and stock control system).
Now, Purple Vision haven’t yet tried out any of these tools, but we’re watching closely as contacts of ours, and clients, start evaluating them and getting a feel for them.
This is all good news, and fits in with the ‘partner ecosystem’ that certain Blackbaud luminaries have said that they are keen to develop. With Salesforce’s growth being at least partly down to their own ecosystem of partners – with software developers and consultants supporting their growing band of non-profit clients – this is surely the way for Blackbaud to go, and their clients can only benefit from this trend.