So, one week on from the big announcement that Blackbaud is buying Convio (see our previous post), and people everywhere have been furiously blogging and commenting about what it all means. Some are asking questions, some are showing signs of fear, and some are just plain gossiping! Here are a few we enjoyed:
- The Agitator – Any colour you like as long as it’s black
- Nonprofit Force – The Convio-Blackbaud merger – one customer’s perpective
- Appichar – Blackbaud/Convio: a match made in heaven or hell?
- Event 360 – Why I’m optimistic about Blackbaud’s acquisition of Convio
What we haven’t seen so far is very much serious consideration of what it means for a charity that has a Blackbaud product right now. Here in the UK, that is predominantly The Raiser’s Edge 7, since Blackbaud’s wider range of products (such as Enterprise CRM, BBDM and eTapestry) are less well established.
At Purple Vision, we work every day with clients who use The Raiser’s Edge. Most of our team have known it for many years as client-side database managers and practicing consultants. We’ve put in a lot of hours, and we know it to be a robust, reliable and trusted fundraising database. But we also know that the foundations have started to creak of late, not only with the announcement last year that development of RE8 has been discontinued, but also with the emergence of smart new alternatives. And now that we learn Blackbaud is buying Convio, organisations that use The Raiser’s Edge will be thinking about succession planning for their CRM system. A scary thought, but one that needs to be considered by anyone who is serious about ensuring excellent stewardship as well as real efficiencies.
Although Blackbaud’s product plans are not yet known, it seems clear that they have absorbed their emerging competitor because of their technical know-how; they understand that the future of fundraising lies ‘in the cloud’. This trend is accelerating, and we think it means that RE7 could soon be retired. That’s OK for future clients, but existing customers will need to work out how to replace it. Just think about that for a second; it’s huge! Imagine your CRM system – not just the database, but also the people and processes behind your strategy – taken out of the equation and replaced. And think about the project that will need to be built to support the process – business case, SMT buy-in, trustee engagement and support, scoping, project team, resourcing etc., and then the migration project itself. Are you ready for that? Can you afford not to be?
We’re not trying to be alarmist. Really, we’re not! No matter what size your organisation is, it’s daunting, but not impossible. We work with many nonprofit clients, and can think of a number with projects already underway that this will affect:
- One large charity, looking to move up from RE, is not too far down that road – luckily they can stop and reassess now – or at least pause – to see what happens.
- Another client is just setting out to integrate its website and operational database with RE. They might want to take a step back and rethink that, as the risk of building a system based on an ageing product is a significant one.
What next then, and how best to proceed? To be honest, it is too early to tell. We recommend that anyone using The Raiser’s Edge should “pull up a chair” and watch as this acquisition (still to be approved by the US authorities) unfolds. The effects on the UK charity market will be real, profound and imminent. At Purple Vision, we’ll be keeping our eyes and ears open and, as always, we will be on hand to help charities that need guidance and support. Your CRM strategy should never, ever, be just about the database. That piece of technology represents your supporter community, the very heart of your organisation. Fail to protect it at your peril!