Over the last decade Cloud for Good worked with hundreds of higher education and nonprofit organizations, completing over 2,000 projects. Many of these projects have been migrating these organizations from Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) or Education Data Architecture (EDA) models. Throughout this time, we’ve learned a lot about both systems and continue to realize why we recommend Salesforce.
Based on my experience migrating clients from Raiser’s Edge, here is how Salesforce compares:
A Foundation of Trust
Everything starts with trust at Salesforce. This means that whether you’re a staff member, student, donor or volunteer if you see a Salesforce login page, you can know that your data is secure, private and accessible 24 hours a day. That’s because Salesforce runs on a “trusted multitenant architecture,” which means that all the organizations that use Salesforce run on the same version in the Cloud (nothing to install). Your organization is running on the same platform, with the same level of security and performance, as some of the largest companies in the world.
Raiser’s Edge 7 is locally hosted on a SQL Server or hosted by Blackbaud through complicated and slow hosting solutions such as Citrix. While Blackbaud is making its way to the Cloud, Raiser’s Edge NXT still depends on a hosted version of Raiser’s Edge. For detailed administration of your constituents, gifts and other functionalities your organization will still need to manage the data through Citrix on your desktop.
Mix or Homemade? You Make the Call.
Salesforce.org provides industry-specific applications that are prebuilt and sit on top of the Salesforce Platform. Apps are the Salesforce version of cookie mix – ready to bake out of the box. NPSP is the Salesforce.org app for nonprofits, and it gets your organization up-and-running quickly with pre-built constituent and donor management components. EDA provides the foundation for your connected campus and empowers institutions of all sizes to connect with students, alumni, faculty, and staff in new ways.
The biggest impact Salesforce has on its customers is the ability to manage the overlap between Accounts and Contacts; a volunteer could be a donor and a vendor could also be a customer. Raiser’s Edge NXT is primarily a fundraising and supporter management solution. Point solutions are limiting the flexibility that our clients desire. Enterprise or fast-growing organizations don’t want to change their business process to accommodate architectural decisions that a vendor made three decades ago when it built an all-inclusive product.
Salesforce also has its own AppExchange, like the Apple App Store or Google Play. This allows the organization to extend the functionality of the core application with thousands of solutions. The Blackbaud Partner Marketplace is relatively new and, at this time, limited. While you can potentially integrate your NXT with other databases, the NXT API is still new and not all functionality is available to be exposed. Integration between many Blackbaud solutions is not possible or very limited without 3rd party solutions such as Omatic or Workato.
Stay Ahead of the Game
Innovation is a core value at Salesforce. Salesforce and, we as part of the partner ecosystem, constantly challenge the status quo, work outside our comfort zones and fearlessly pursue initiatives that have the potential to influence the way organizations operate. Salesforce has three major releases of new functionality every year and Salesforce.org releases new features for both NPSP and EDA every month.
Blackbaud, in comparison, is not known for its innovation. Except for the slow move to NXT, organizations using Raiser’s Edge have not seen significant change or advancement to the nonprofit and higher ed sectors since the product was released almost three decades ago.
Blackbaud vs. Salesforce R&D Investment
What it Really Comes Down to:
In today’s world, no one has a phone with only one installed application and there is a good reason for that. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to see if you should consider Salesforce over Raiser’s Edge:
- Have your donors changed or going to change?
- What is your digital strategy? Can the technology support that?
- Do you need to manage the overlap between your programs, membership, students and advancement?
- Will your mission or your fundraising process change over the next few years?
- If you are considering Raiser’s Edge because Blackbaud owns other products you’re using, are these products actually integrated?
Whether you’re implementing a CRM for the first time or are looking to make the switch from legacy databases, like Raiser’s Edge, Cloud for Good has a deep understanding in the higher education and nonprofit spaces. Many of our consultants have walked in your shoes and know the pain of having to use SQL to pull reports or only being able to access your data from hosted serves. I personally know the pain of having to use Excel to manage your constituents and have seen first-hand the transformative powers of the Salesforce platform. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce in the comments below.