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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