If your nonprofit is considering implementing Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge as your all-in-one fundraising solution, you’ll inevitably have a lot to think about.
While a number of nonprofits have made Raiser’s Edge (and its newest iteration, Raiser’s Edge NXT) their Blackbaud software product of choice, like any software, Raiser’s Edge comes with a number of advantages and disadvantages.
To help you navigate the myriad of product reviews and cut down on research time, we’ve compiled the most important pros and cons you need to consider before buying Raiser’s Edge.
We’ll look at the following:
- Pro: Nonprofits can use Raiser’s Edge for virtually all of their fundraising needs.
- Con: Raiser’s Edge isn’t always user-friendly.
- Pro: Raiser’s Edge is highly customizable.
- Con: Blackbaud may not supply enough Raiser’s Edge training.
- Pro: Nonprofits can integrate matching gifts into their Raiser’s Edge platform.
But before we dive into the details, you can take a bird’s eye look at the buying process by reading DNL Omni Media’s walk-through of Raiser’s Edge from consideration to implementation.
1. Pro: Nonprofits can use Raiser’s Edge for virtually all of their fundraising needs.
If you need expansive fundraising software, Raiser’s Edge won’t disappoint.
With features designed to improve operational efficiency, enhance donor acquisition and engagement, and of course, boost fundraising revenue, Raiser’s Edge is truly comprehensive.
While nonprofits of all sizes can use Raiser’s Edge, its broad functionality makes it an ideal fit for nonprofits who need to store a significant amount of data and implement more complex fundraising strategies.
For instance, Raiser’s Edge can play an instrumental role in streamlining all of the following processes:
- Data enrichment.
- Communications and marketing.
- Online payment processing.
- Event management.
- Wealth analytics and prospect research.
- Crowdfunding and social engagement.
Of course, if you’re not prepared to use all of the tools within Raiser’s Edge, this pro can quickly turn into a con.
Having an overwhelming set of fundraising resources in front of you with no idea where to start is a position no nonprofit wants to be in. To avoid that situation, make sure you’ve done your research to find out exactly what kind of fundraising software you need.
2. Con: Raiser’s Edge isn’t always user-friendly.
Because Raiser’s Edge is so multifaceted, some nonprofits have a difficult time finding their way around the product.
While the newest version of Raiser’s Edge, Raiser’s Edge NXT, is a notable improvement from the earlier Raiser’s Edge 7 interface, there are still some bugs that limit usability for this platform.
Typically, users struggle with a few important aspects of the Raiser’s Edge system:
- Implementation. Many users note that while Raiser’s Edge is eventually a workable platform, it takes a lot of trial and error, testing, and training to get them to a place where they feel confident within the software. If you have a hearty IT team and plenty of time to devote to figuring out the system, you’ll be able to work your way through Raiser’s Edge. But if you need to understand all the features Raiser’s Edge has to offer quickly, your team might have some frustration to deal with.
- Creating queries. Raiser’s Edge provides the ability to pull information on specific groups or segments of constituents using their query tool. However, many users have found that this feature is difficult to understand and utilize, and that the query process can leave them with duplicate information.
- Generating custom reports. While Raiser’s Edge allows organizations to run reports on virtually any metrics within their database; unfortunately, a number of users aren’t able to take advantage of the full scope of analytics available because of the complicated process. Instead, they rely on the canned reports that come pre-set in Raiser’s Edge, which might not fully address their needs.
Blackbaud does have a highly competent support team who can walk you through these issues if you do encounter them. Even so, it might be necessary to look into third-party help (i.e., a nonprofit consultant) who can ensure you’re getting the most out of your software.
For the best results, look for a support team that specializes in Blackbaud’s suite of products. Not only can they walk you through the ins and outs of Raiser’s Edge, they can ensure all your essential integrations are up and running properly.
3. Pro: Raiser’s Edge is highly customizable.
For organizations who like to get under the hood of their fundraising software and design a platform that’s fully unique, Raiser’s Edge may be a good fit.
With a multitude of configurable settings and customization options, Raiser’s Edge is most useful when organizations take advantage of the ability to adapt the platform to their needs.
Let’s look at just a sampling of what your team can configure:
- Role-based views and permissions.
- Donor profile settings, including addressees and salutations.
- Business rules and defaults.
- Constituent categories.
- Integrations and links to other platforms.
And that’s truly just a taste of what you can customize!
However, it’s important to understand that Raiser’s Edge configuration is not a task just anyone can try their hand at. There are resources to help you understand the customization process, but even getting through the configuration guides may be a major time commitment (most Blackbaud online guides range from 60 to 200+ pages!).
To truly capitalize on the advantage of in-depth customization, your organization will need to work with an experienced professional.
A web developer or nonprofit technology consultant with Blackbaud expertise can save you time, headaches, and potentially damaging mistakes. Plus, a nonprofit consultant can take the time to understand your fundraising strategy and then implement the customizations that are proven to put you on the path toward success.
When Raiser’s Edge is already such an investment, you need to go the extra mile to make sure your configurations are in line with your goals and fundraising needs. A nonprofit technology consultant can be that missing link!
4. Con: Blackbaud may not supply enough Raiser’s Edge training.
For a product that’s so extensive (and not necessarily user-friendly), you can anticipate that there will be a learning curve during the first stages of Raiser’s Edge use.
That being the case, you’ll likely seek out some form of training for your team as you get started with Raiser’s Edge. The problem? Many customers report that Blackbaud does not offer enough resources to adequately train nonprofits on using the platform.
While there are some online and in-person Raiser’s Edge training options offered by Blackbaud, it takes some digging around to find exactly what you need. (Though this master list of training resources from the Blackbaud experts at DNL OmniMedia can alleviate some of the time you spend on research!)
Moreover, a large population of users have found that the training options are not yet comprehensive, and that they still must do a great deal of self-training to get fully acquainted with the platform.
Obviously, not having access to robust training presents a major problem.
Many of your team members will be utilizing Raiser’s Edge on a daily basis, each in unique role-based ways. If everyone has a different level of understanding of how to use the software, you’re setting yourself up for inconsistencies, errors, and a lack of efficiency—which is exactly what Raiser’s Edge is supposed to help you avoid!
You can use Blackbaud Learn, the online Blackbaud Community, and free online guides and resources to supplement your learning, but the best way to ensure your team is all on the same page is to seek out dedicated Raiser’s Edge training from an expert Blackbaud consultant.
Your consultant can offer a personalized training plan with role-based paths, in-person coaching, and general counsel regarding using Raiser’s Edge as part of your fundraising strategy.
If you’re hesitant to invest in a consultant, look at it this way: do you want to spend your time and resources pulling together the information you need to use your software, or would you rather streamline the experience and guarantee your staff is ready to use Raiser’s Edge?
5. Pro: Nonprofits can integrate matching gifts into their Raiser’s Edge platform.
Saving the best perk for last, we can’t forget that Raiser’s Edge makes it possible to seamlessly incorporate the oh-so-important matching gift process right into your fundraising software!
You already know how vital matching gifts can be to your fundraising strategy. Raiser’s Edge accounts for this by making it easy to store matching gift information within your database and use that intel to (literally) multiply your gifts.
Within a Raiser’s Edge donor profile, you have the ability to view corporate giving data in a dedicated Matching Gifts section. All the relevant information, such as the company, match amount, and date, will be visible in one central location to make it easy to keep track of your matched funds over time.
Let’s look at a few ways you can take advantage of this pro:
- Store donors’ employer information. You’ll have a hard time securing matching gifts if you don’t have your supporters’ employer data on file. You can request this information through event registration or donation forms, or simply reach out to donors to ask.
- Create constituent profiles for employers. You should keep employers’ data on file in separate constituent profiles. That way, you can centralize important data such as matching gift ratios, deadlines, and eligibility requirements. Having their contact information on file also makes it easier to send them their own communications and thank-you notes for each matched gift.
- Integrate a matching gift tool into your donation process. If you’re using Blackbaud NetCommunity as part of your Raiser’s Edge system, don’t forget to integrate Double the Donation’s easy matching gift tool on your donation confirmation pages and acknowledgement emails! Read this simple integration guide to find out how.
And if you’re a larger organization interested in implementing matching gifts into your fundraising strategy, see how 360MatchPro can help you take your efficiency to the next level through a Raiser’s Edge integration!
No software is perfect, but with the right guidance from a nonprofit consultant and a little research, Raiser’s Edge can be an excellent partner in your fundraising efforts.
Learn more about fundraising software by checking out these additional resources:
- The Top Nonprofit CRMs. Read our reviews of the top constituent relationship management software on the market to find out which tools are best suited for your organization!
- Our Favorite Donor Management Solutions. Find out how to boost donor engagement (and retention!) by investing in the best donor management software you can find.
- DonorSearch’s Top Online Donation Tools. Discover the best online giving software available for nonprofits by reading this helpful DonorSearch post.