Discover if Blackbaud Luminate CRM is the right donor management tool for your nonprofit.

Luminate CRM: Key Considerations Before You Buy

Thinking about using Luminate CRM to manage your donor data? Moving to new constituent relationship management software is a big decision, especially for large nonprofits with so much data to keep track of.

Blackbaud’s Luminate CRM is a powerful tool, but it’s not the right CRM for every nonprofit. And while there are a number of resources online to help you learn about Luminate CRM’s features and benefits, it can be difficult to discern whether or not the investment is a smart choice for your organization.

That’s why we’ve come up with 5 exceptionally important considerations for you to keep in mind as you move into the Luminate CRM buying process. We’ll walk through each of the following points: 

  1. Luminate CRM was built for Salesforce users.
  2. Luminate CRM can meet multifaceted constituent management needs.
  3. Luminate CRM thrives on custom configuration.
  4. Luminate CRM is different than Luminate Online (but they can work together!).
  5. Luminate CRM requires training.

Bonus: If Luminate CRM isn’t quite your speed, consider checking out Luminate Online Marketing, a suite of online fundraising and digital marketing tools also from Blackbaud. We’ve broken down the buying process for Luminate Online in this helpful post!

Luminate CRM was built to sit on top of Salesforce, so only nonprofits who already use Salesforce CRM should invest in Blackbaud's Luminate CRM.

1. Luminate CRM was built for Salesforce users.

The first thing you need to know about Luminate CRM is that, unlike other Blackbaud products, this software was designed to work with Salesforce.

Because Luminate CRM sits on top of Salesforce, only nonprofits who are already using Salesforce as their primary CRM should consider purchasing it. You won’t be able to use Luminate CRM outside of Salesforce; instead, you can use Luminate to expand your current Salesforce functionality and gain access to rich, nonprofit-specific constituent management tools.

The fact that Luminate CRM was built for Salesforce has a few important repercussions:

  • Luminate CRM works best for large organizations. As you’re likely aware, Salesforce is a huge product with highly expansive functionality. Since Luminate CRM works hand-in-hand with Salesforce, it’s not an investment that many smaller nonprofits can afford to make, nor is it one that’s beneficial to them.
  • Luminate CRM is part of the Salesforce ecosystem. Not only will you be able to use Luminate in conjunction with built-in Salesforce features, but you’ll be able to integrate it with any other app on the Salesforce AppExchange. Luminate CRM blends seamlessly into your Salesforce infrastructure, so all of your tools can work together holistically.
  • Luminate CRM is cloud-based. Like Salesforce, Luminate CRM is completely cloud-based. That means you can access your data anywhere, anytime (as long as you’re connected to the internet). Even better? Luminate CRM also has a mobile app that enables you to more easily connect to your CRM on your smartphone!

If your nonprofit doesn’t use Salesforce, Blackbaud offers a host of other constituent management solutions that work independently.

If your organization is on the smaller side, you may need a more lightweight solution than Blackbaud or Salesforce can offer; in that case, we recommend finding a cost-effective alternative that can help you manage donor data as you grow. Sound like you? Check out @Pay’s guide to low-cost or free nonprofit CRM software to get started!

The last word: Luminate CRM was built for Salesforce and works as a part of Salesforce. Your nonprofit should only consider implementing Luminate CRM if you’re already using Salesforce (or are prepared to make that purchase as well).

Luminate CRM can help your nonprofit accomplish a variety of constituent management needs and can be further expanded through customizations and integrations.

2. Luminate CRM can meet multifaceted constituent management needs.

Because Luminate CRM was designed for larger organizations, it’s fully prepared to support a variety of data management needs for all of the constituents your nonprofit interacts with.

Like most CRM or donor management solutions, Luminate CRM offers nonprofits the ability to store and track valuable constituent data. Luminate’s data management features include:

  • Custom constituent profiles. Build dynamic portraits of each supporter based on the information that’s most important to your cause. Store contact information, engagement history, interests, wealth information, and more; you can customize the fields to meet your data needs.
  • Constituent classification. Group your constituents into specific segments based on involvement, such as major donors, volunteers, board members, or recurring givers. Then, easily use their classification to inform your engagement strategy.
  • Constituent task management. Add notes and assign tasks to specific supporter profiles or entire segments. That way, your team is always on track of important actions and project management needs. You can even upload documents that relate to individual tasks or constituents.

In addition to these vital donor management tools, Luminate CRM also equips your nonprofit with tools to tackle donation management, direct marketing, reporting and analytics, event management, and volunteer management.

And it doesn’t stop there! On top of Luminate CRM’s built-in features, your organization has the opportunity to integrate your CRM system with a variety of other platforms, including the thousands of apps on the Salesforce AppExchange, the Blackbaud Luminate Online suite, and third-party software via custom integrations.

The last word: Luminate CRM is one of the most comprehensive constituent management solutions available. By adding it to your Salesforce platform, you’ll be able to use a comprehensive view of your data to inform your overall nonprofit strategy.

To get the most from Luminate CRM, your nonprofit should work with a developer to configure the platform in a unique way.

3. Luminate CRM thrives on custom configuration.

Like many Blackbaud products, Luminate CRM is a broad platform with a number of capabilities. However, in order to maximize the software’s myriad possibilities, you’ll need to customize Luminate CRM to fit your nonprofit’s unique needs.

With Luminate CRM, your organization can accomplish virtually anything, but designing and implementing the tools to get you there takes an in-depth development knowledge that many nonprofits don’t have. Unless your team is equipped with a considerable IT department, you’ll want to call in reinforcements to set up Luminate CRM.

What does that translate to? In short, your nonprofit should seek the help of a nonprofit technology consultant to help you configure your Luminate CRM platform. 

Among their many benefits, a web consultant can help you:

  • Map out your strategy for using Luminate CRM.
  • Determine which reconfigurations you need.
  • Create custom solutions tailored to your fundraising strategy.
  • Migrate data from your existing platform(s) to Luminate.
  • Integrate third-party platforms.
  • Develop a long-term plan for maintaining and cleaning data.
  • Train your staff on using Luminate CRM.

The best part of using a consultant is that they can understand your nonprofit’s needs and give you expert counsel on how Luminate CRM fits in. Specialized developers understand the Luminate and Salesforce API and can adjust the standard features and configurations to give you the best CRM experience possible.

For example, if your organization takes advantage of matching gifts as part of your fundraising strategy (and why wouldn’t you?), you can integrate Luminate CRM with high-powered matching gift tools such as 360MatchPro.

When you integrate 360MatchPro with your Luminate system, you’ll have access to both sets of tools and data within one end-to-end system. That way, you can stay on top of your matching gift automation in the most effective way!

And if you’re not using 360MatchPro to manage the matching gift process at your organization, now’s the perfect time to pair this product with your Luminate platform. Click here to find out more!

Don’t forget: while a consultant or outside developer on-hand is vital, it’s not free. As you’re budgeting, consider their cost as part of the implementation price for Luminate CRM. Don’t be too frugal here; the up-front investment will pay off when you have a completely personalized system that helps you manage donor data and raise funds effectively!

The last word: To really see the benefits of Luminate CRM, you’ll need to devise a plan for customization. Work with a nonprofit web consultant and a developer to make sure your CRM is configured to your specific needs.

Salesforce users can reap the benefits of Luminate Online by integrating it with Luminate CRM.

4. Luminate CRM is different than Luminate Online (but they can work together!).

Another key product in the Blackbaud Luminate family is Luminate Online Marketing, a set of tools designed to streamline and enhance nonprofit fundraising and marketing strategies.

Luminate CRM is not a part of Luminate Online, and there are some key distinctions between the two solutions that you should be aware of. Chiefly, Luminate Online operates independently, so you don’t need to be a Salesforce user to utilize it.

That said, Salesforce users who want to extend their Luminate CRM product to include Luminate Online’s features can do so by integrating the two platforms. 

By integrating Luminate Online into your Luminate CRM and Salesforce system, you’ll have access to greater fundraising and constituent engagement abilities, from email marketing tools to donation form builders and more.

Not only will you be able to implement Luminate Online’s core features; you’ll also have access to their add-ons, including:

  • TeamRaiser, Luminate’s customizable peer-to-peer fundraising platform.
  • Luminate Advocacy, designed for grassroots fundraising initiatives and policy campaigns.
  • Luminate CMS, a content management platform to help nonprofits manage web content.

While not included in the base price, these add-ons can help nonprofits with specific needs take their efforts to the next level without needing a third-party program or complicated integration.

Need help configuring Luminate Online to meet your needs? DNL OmniMedia’s guide to TeamRaiser configurations can put you on the right path!

The last word: Luminate CRM and Luminate Online Marketing are separate Blackbaud products. Depending on your nonprofit’s needs, you can integrate the two for the most effective fundraising and constituent management.

To understand the nuances of Luminate CRM, your organization will need to seek professional training.

5. Luminate CRM requires training.

Unlike many lightweight alternatives, Luminate CRM takes time and understanding in order to start using the platform.

You can find a number of helpful resources online, including Blackbaud forums, helpful how-to’s, and even instruction manuals for specific topics like data migration or software integration.

However, these support options aren’t comprehensive or personalized enough to be your primary form of training. Instead, you should seek out dedicated training courses or consultation from one of two sources: 

  • Blackbaud’s training team.
  • A third-party nonprofit web consultant.

Either service should help you develop a plan for using Luminate CRM and consider how your staff will make the most of the CRM long-term.

If you choose to work with a nonprofit software consultant, you can take advantage of their expertise in developing custom solutions and have them train you on implementing those customizations in your fundraising strategy. They’ll work with you to establish how Luminate fits into your overall goals and teach you how to maximize your CRM’s capabilities.

A consulting firm can also tailor your training experience in a way that ensures your staff is well-versed on the most pertinent aspects of your CRM within a time frame that fits your organizational goals.

The last word: You can work with Blackbaud specialists or a nonprofit technology consultant to get your whole nonprofit team on the same page when it comes to using Luminate CRM to reach your goals.


Now that you know if Luminate CRM is the best choice for you, it’s time to start using it to manage your constituent data!

Check out these resources for more on maximizing your Luminate and Salesforce system:

  • Luminate Online Marketing: The Nonprofit’s Guide. Get up to speed on all the essential Luminate knowledge by reading DNL OmniMedia’s guide to Luminate Online. As top-notch web consultants, they know what’s what when it comes to Blackbaud, so you can trust their insight is all you need for successful Luminate fundraising.
  • Top Salesforce Partners for Successful Events. Planning an event in Salesforce? You’ll need a high-quality event management app to help streamline the process, and there’s no shortage of software on the market! Read our reviews of the top Salesforce partners for event planning.
  • Luminate Online Migrations: 5 Tips for a Painless Process. Before you can get started with any Luminate product, you’ll need to transfer your existing donor data. Read these top strategies for conducting an effective (headache-free!) data migration.

Before purchasing Luminate Online Marketing for your nonprofit, find out if it's the right product set for your organization by asking yourself these questions.

Luminate for Blackbaud: 5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy

Looking for a set of powerful, completely customizable online fundraising and marketing tools for your nonprofit? For many organizations, Luminate for Blackbaud is the only answer.

There’s a reason why so many nonprofits turn to Luminate Online Marketing for their online donor engagement needs. The Luminate Online product is expansive, adaptive, and—when configured correctly—uniquely comprehensive.

But before you assume that Luminate is the right choice for your nonprofit, think carefully. While an ideal choice for many nonprofits, the fact of the matter is that Luminate Online is not a universal fit. 

To determine if your organization could benefit from Luminate, first consider these questions:

  1. Is your nonprofit ready for Blackbaud’s Luminate Online?
  2. What are your goals for Luminate Online?
  3. Will you need Luminate Online add-ons?
  4. What integrations or customizations will you need for your Blackbaud Luminate system?
  5. How will your nonprofit get set up with Luminate Online?

In this post, we’ll cover the Luminate Online Marketing buying process. If you’re not yet familiar with the product, we recommend first taking a look at DNL OmniMedia’s guide to Luminate Online; it will give you the understanding you need to start considering Luminate for your own nonprofit.

To find out if Luminate is right for you, keep reading!

Luminate Online is designed for enterprise-level nonprofits with complex goals.

1. Is your nonprofit ready for Luminate Online?

Before you should even start looking at products and comparing prices, your nonprofit needs to understand that Luminate Online is not meant for everyone.

Let’s break down exactly who the audience for Luminate Online is:

  • Luminate Online caters to enterprise level organizations. These products were not designed for up-and-coming or mid-level nonprofits. Luminate Online is intended for those organizations who are established enough to benefit from a custom solution that can help them manage fundraising and communications for a wide donor base.
  • Luminate Online requires a financial investment. Luminate does not seek to serve nonprofits searching for low-cost software to get them started with online fundraising. Instead, Luminate is best-suited for organizations whose budgets can accommodate a powerful, top-tier solution that can meet their needs for the long run.
  • Luminate Online is designed for nonprofits with complex needs. If your organization is simply trying to accept online donations and send automated email blasts, Luminate Online will likely offer more than you’re ready to use. Because it’s designed to be customized extensively, Luminate works best for nonprofits who need a more specific set of features than those offered off-the-rack.

If your nonprofit isn’t quite ready for a solution so far-reaching, don’t worry! There are plenty of simple, affordable nonprofit digital fundraising and marketing tools that can meet your needs immediately.

But if you think your organization is at a place where Blackbaud’s products can give you the next-level donor engagement and fundraising features you need, start mapping out your game plan, including a budget, list of goals, and an appeal for your board.

What to Know: Blackbaud’s Luminate Online Marketing solution is an exceptional product that is best-suited for large nonprofits with specific fundraising needs and a flexible budget.

Determine how you'll use Blackbaud's Luminate Online to move your nonprofit's mission forward.

2. What are your goals for Luminate Online?

Luminate Online can help your nonprofit accomplish a number of things, but it’s up to you to decide what those accomplishments will be.

Before you jump into your product search, make sure your organization is on the same page when it comes to how you’ll use Luminate Online.

As a jumping off point, get together with key staff (i.e., those who’ll be primarily using the Luminate software), and brainstorm answers to questions such as:

  • How do your current digital fundraising and marketing solutions fall short? Are you piecemealing several solutions? Are you unable to store all of your constituent data?
  • Do you require a customized online fundraising solution? How can you improve your fundraising campaigns and/or marketing efforts by taking a more specific strategy? How could your software help you achieve that strategy?
  • What specific fundraising and communication goals would you like to meet? What dollar amount is your fundraising target for the upcoming year (or multi-year period)? Do you hope to better engage supporters via email, direct mail, or social media? Do you hope to attract new donors, and if so, how many?

Your goals will be unique to your nonprofit, but no matter what, they should always be measurable and as tangible as possible.

While some targets will inherently be more abstract (such as donor engagement), you should set sub-goals that relate to a highly specific metric. For example, if your goal is to strengthen email communications, you should set specific secondary goals tied to email open and click-through rates, follow-up engagements, and lead captures.

What to Know: Before committing to Luminate, make sure your nonprofit is clear with how you’ll use the product, with specific, measurable goals in mind.

Blackbaud Luminate Online also offers add-ons to expand the product's features, so determine if your nonprofit needs access to these solutions as well.

3. Will you need Luminate Online add-ons?

Once you’ve decided that the move to Luminate Online is a wise one, it’s time to start seriously considering the product at hand and deciding which features you’ll want access to.

To recap, Luminate Online Marketing comes with the following tools as part of the standard solution:

  • Dynamic email campaign management.
  • Digital fundraising and donation processing.
  • Online donation form-building.
  • Fundraising campaign reporting and analytics.
  • Flexible event creation and calendar management.
  • Web design and campaign microsite creation.
  • eCommerce and web store management.

While those solutions can easily cover the needs of many nonprofits, if your organization needs more tailored fundraising and engagement solutions, you can also implement one (or more) of Blackbaud’s Luminate Online add-ons.

Here’s our breakdown of each additional option you can tie to your Luminate Online system:

  • TeamRaiser. Luminate’s peer-to-peer fundraising solution enables nonprofits to manage social fundraising initiatives by creating team fundraising pages, giving donors the tools to become fundraisers, and planning fundraising events.
  • Luminate Advocacy. With tools to help nonprofits grow their supporter network and turn advocates into donors (and vice versa!), Luminate Advocacy is designed for organizations leading next-level policy campaigns.
  • Luminate Content Management System. For organizations with specific web design needs, Luminate CMS provides a functional, user-friendly interface for nonprofits to create and share content online.

For organizations already using (or considering) the Blackbaud family of products, incorporating these add-ons makes more sense than seeking outside dedicated fundraising platforms. However, these solutions are not included in the initial Luminate Online Marketing feature set, so you should make sure they actually align with your nonprofit’s goals before paying extra for them.

What to Know: Blackbaud offers Luminate Online add-ons to extend their core product. If your organization uses peer-to-peer fundraising, advocacy, or content management systems to achieve your goals, consider adding these solutions onto your Luminate purchase.

Luminate Online is endlessly customizable, so consider how you'll adapt the platform to meet your nonprofit needs.

4. What integrations or customizations will you need for your Luminate system?

You’ve got your eye on the perfect product and the right add-ons to meet your needs; now it’s time to start thinking about how you can make the Blackbaud Luminate tools your own.

Arguably the greatest advantage to using Luminate Online Marketing is the full scope of customization it allows. While many fundraising software options have limited amounts of customization (such as donation form fields or reporting metrics), Luminate is a little different. Essentially, Luminate Online requires specific configuration to really meet your nonprofit’s needs.

That configuration might mean setting up custom workflows, dashboards, user-interface options, or other features that don’t come standard in Luminate. No matter how you want to adjust your platform, keep in mind that these configurations will require an in-depth IT knowledge.

What does that mean for you? Most likely, it means that you’ll need to find an outside developer to help you design and implement your customization plan. 

In addition to customizing the backend of your Luminate Online system, you might also need to integrate existing platforms into your online marketing system to get a holistic view of your entire set of fundraising and marketing efforts.

For example, you might want to integrate these solutions with Luminate Online:

  • Matching gifts. Luminate Online comes with some matching gift capabilities, but if your organization relies on corporate giving as a major form of fundraising, you’ll need to integrate your matching gift services with Luminate.
  • Prospect research. To take the most strategic approach to identifying and targeting major donors, you can integrate your prospect research or wealth-screening tools into your Luminate Online system.
  • Luminate CRM. For organizations on Salesforce, Luminate CRM provides a pathway to integration with the Luminate Online solution. (Tip: read more about how Luminate CRM differs from Luminate Online here!)

Like configurations, these custom integrations likely require the help of a nonprofit technology consultant, at least for the initial set-up and data transfer.

We’ll touch more on how these consultants can help you in the next section, but keep in mind that their services come at a price. If broad customization is necessary for your organization, make sure there’s plenty of room in your budget to find the help you’ll need to implement and use your configurations and integrations.

What to Know: To get the most out of Luminate Online, you’ll want to configure the software to fit your specific needs and integrate third-party platforms you rely on. To make this process as smooth as possible, you should enlist the help of a qualified nonprofit technology consultant.

Your nonprofit will need support and training from a nonprofit technology consultant to get set up with Luminate Online.

5. How will your nonprofit get set up with Luminate Online?

This point might be last on the list, but don’t be mistaken—understanding the Luminate Online implementation process is one of the most crucial considerations to keep in mind!

Luminate Online is not a download-and-get-going kind of product, which reinforces its standing as a solution only intended for nonprofits who are highly capable and willing to make an investment now for the sake long-term usability.

There are a few specific elements of the Luminate implementation process that you should think about before purchasing the software:

  • Data migration. Often a complicated process, effective data migration is essential so that all the donor information you’re currently storing can be used within your new Luminate system.
  • Set-up. Once you have your data in place, there will likely be additional steps (including configurations) to make sure your platform is installed and working correctly.
  • Training. While user-friendly in its own way, Luminate Online requires extensive training to get fully acquainted with the software’s tools and features.

In order to complete the first stages of your nonprofit’s long-term Luminate Online usage, you will likely require the help of a nonprofit technology consulting firm. 

Your nonprofit is just getting started with Luminate, so you don’t have to be an expert yet; however, you will need an expert on your side as you attempt to navigate the ins and outs of this larger-than-life software solution.

Consultants can help you map out your Luminate Online strategies, transfer your existing data, configure your platform, and train your staff on how to use Luminate Online to its fullest potential.

What to Know: As you dive into your Luminate Online experience, make sure you have the guidance of a Blackbaud expert to ensure smooth sailing and long-term satisfaction.


Now that you know if Luminate Online is right for your organization, it’s time to get started with your new product.

Check out these additional resources to get more out of your Luminate Online solution:

  • DNL OmniMedia’s Guide to Luminate Online. As nonprofit technology consultants and Blackbaud authorities, DNL OmniMedia can help you understand Luminate Online like no other. Read their guide to find out everything you need to know.
  • Luminate CRM: Key Considerations Before You Buy. Luminate Online isn’t the only Blackbaud Luminate product that can supercharge your fundraising and donor engagement. If you’re a Salesforce user, see how Luminate CRM can take your constituent management to the next level.
  • Luminate Online: From Consideration to Implementation. Now that you know Luminate is the best choice for your online fundraising needs, allow Fundly to walk you through the Luminate Online buying process in great detail.

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