For nonprofits, Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge is a familiar offering. The company has created a long list of nonprofit tools, like eTapestry, that help different organizations achieve their fundraising goals.
Raiser’s Edge is a fundraising and relationship management platform that performs several key functions. You’ll get a tool that’s part CRM, part engagement booster, part project management app.
So, is this platform any good? While it’s long been one of those software titans everyone knows—Raiser’s Edge isn’t the only option around these days.
But, the contact records look pretty old. The interface looks complicated, and there’s little evidence of design savvy based on our initial look at the platform.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at the tool to see how it compares to the latest and greatest tech solutions on the market.
What is Raiser’s Edge?
A fundraising CRM with a dedication to data, Raiser’s Edge is nonprofit software that brings a wide range of features into one central location.
The platform lives in the cloud, so all users can access real-time information and switch between devices—making this an ideal solution for staff working remotely and in the office.
Raiser’s Edge is a CRM built just for nonprofits. As such, the tool handles everything from managing donor records, fundraising, and boosting engagement with ease.
According to Blackbaud, the platform may be customized to meet more specific needs.
Overall, the platform appears to provide very detailed data on your supporters. You can keep track of gifts, giving history, attendees, notes from past conversations, and more. Ultimately, the sheer amount of data promises to help nonprofits better their targeting efforts and improve their mission.
However, some of the reviews we encountered during our research found that Raiser’s Edge wasn’t especially easy to use. One G2Crowd reviewer mentioned that learning a new task in Raiser’s Edge was like mastering a new language.
People also found the interface to be ugly, clunky, and hard to approach. And they’re right. We were surprised to see that in 2018, Blackbaud is still using a gray interface with little attention paid to UI. Competitors like DonorPerfect, Neon CRM, and countless others have passed them by in this regard.
Anyway, here is a closer look at some of the capabilities, challenges, and costs associated with Raiser’s Edge.
Raiser’s Edge is, according to several past users, quite easy to navigate. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the tool is easy to use, however. Still, the presentation, while a bit outdated, is very straightforward.
Identify Growth Opportunities
Raiser’s Edge aims to help nonprofits identify opportunities for growth, much like a traditional, sales-focused CRM. Use the platform to find new supporters and potential in your existing donor base.
Raiser’s Edge brings highly detailed reporting to the mix, allowing nonprofits to uncover opportunities hidden in datasets they likely wouldn’t be able to find unassisted.
Past users reported that these high-level insights have enabled them to boost donation numbers and follow up with the constituents most likely to support their mission.
The latest version of Raiser’s Edge, NXT takes the database to the cloud. This allows users to access real-time data, run reports, and more. That said, some users have mentioned that the tool doesn’t always provide accurate information. According to one user we came across, dashboard data like lapsed donors, new donors, etc. are always off a bit.
Another benefit of the cloud-based platform is, you can connect your account to the other tools in the Blackbaud lineup like the NetCommunity and OnlineExpress.
The mobile app is a key benefit for Raiser’s Edge users. The app allows organizations to raise money on the go, while interacting with supporters at events. The app automatically syncs to your account, so all users will have access to real-time data, no matter where they are.
Users can download an iPhone app to collect payments, no manual entry-required.
The donor segmentation capability is what really sets this platform apart from the pack. Where a tool like Qgiv might come with some reporting features, what you’ll get with Raiser’s Edge is way more sophisticated.
Segment your donors based on custom filters, ensuring that each group gets the messaging most relevant to them.
The process of creating a donor profile is somewhat complex. We looked at a YouTube video that walked us through the process, and there are a whole lot of steps involved. Donor profiles are generated based on constituent records.
You’ll need to set your parameters. This means things like gift summary, history, and more. From, there, you can customize things like the color scheme and presentation, so profiles may be saved or printed as a report.
While this process is pretty complex, users benefit from the high level of detail listed in each profile. The idea is, you’ll never forget anything about a constituent again.
Raiser’s Edge allows you to set controls over who gets to access specific tools inside the platform. Assign admins and restrict access as needed. This way, volunteers won’t have access to your financials but can help with fundraising and social media outreach.
The relationship management feature allows you to raise more funds by combining traditional fundraising and peer-to-peer fundraising. So, you can advertise fundraising events and enlist your supporters to help spread the message.
According to Blackbaud, Raiser’s Edge allows users to streamline their financial management process, so you can spend more time on your mission. The platform allows you to manage tuition, financial aid, and run fund accounting tasks from the same central hub as your other efforts.
Process ACH payments and credit card transactions through the platform’s merchant services portal. While they don’t elaborate much on the specifics (a pattern we noticed throughout) Raiser’s Edge promises a simple, affordable, and secure solution.
The analytics offerings are incredibly robust. Honestly, if analytics are the driving factor for switching up your software, Raiser’s Edge may be your best bet.
The uses a unique system, intelligence for good, which combines, big data, analytics, and AI in a way that allows you to use insights to grow your organization.
Raiser’s Edge analytics allow modeling and prospect research, donor benchmarking, and competitive analysis.
In all, these solutions promise to help you acquire new donors, connect with constituents on their preferred channels, optimize fundraising, and more.
Raiser’s Edge isn’t cheap, unfortunately. Since the company rolled out the latest version of the tool, they’ve sold it as this comprehensive, nonprofit CRM miracle.
The site offers a few different plans, which are organized by size, need, and features. We’ve seen a few mentions here and there regarding price. One person mentioned that the tool starts around $400 per month. Another said $5000 was the entry-level price point, but we don’t know if that means yearly, monthly, or what.
Yearly support is rumored to be an additional $700 fee for a single user or $1000+ for two or more users. Still, the name of the Blackbaud game seems to be keeping supporters in the dark. So, we can’t confirm any definitive pricing information and will need to contact the company for more details.
Raiser’s Edge is cloud-hosted and users can access their account from anywhere. Because you can access information through your computer or mobile device, the tool works well for staff that might work in the office one day and in the field the next.
Who is this For?
Raiser’s Edge works best for mid to large-sized organizations with a straightforward fundraising strategy. You’ll want to ensure there’s some flexibility in your budget, too—as you may find you need to schedule a paid training or guided implementation.
We should mention that we’ve seen several complaints across platforms like Software Advice and GetApp, stating this isn’t the best CRM for folks who aren’t data-minded. Newcomers and visual learners may find the tool hard to approach.
For more experienced users, the tool has the potential to provide deep insights into donation patterns and communication records. Of course, this is all subjective. But, it’s a good idea to try out the demo or watch some videos before committing to the software.
Watch Out for Occasional Errors
Sometimes, users may experience uploading efforts when importing data from donations or registrations from a spreadsheet. For example, try to upload too many records at a time and the system may crash.
One way around this is submitting spreadsheets in smaller batches and saving frequently, but some customers have complained that this process may be time-consuming.
Blackbaud’s entire software lineup shares a central hub. It makes it a bit difficult to identify knowledge base articles for a specific item. eTapestry and others are all listed on the official site and information is sorted by feature and goals, rather than any cohesive rundown.
The how-to section offers user guides, video tutorials, and reference guides with step-by-step instructions. According to the website, the how-to articles are conveniently located in the help section of the software, so they’re easy to access any time you need help.
There were some other frustrating things about the site. For one, we tried to view the features in more detail and kept receiving a popup advising us to sign up for a product tour. You’ll sign up by entering your information, of course, and prospective users will receive a sales call.
Blogs are kind of all over the place. Users can expect to see content that covers corporate responsibility, recent natural disasters, and more. It seems less about being helpful than being a source for company news, In any case, it’s not especially useful for a customer who wants more understanding of the nonprofit industry or the tool.
Blackbaud University is the platform’s education center. Here, users can learn about how the tool works on a deeper level than they can with the how-to documentation or FAQs.
Unfortunately, we were unable to take a closer look at the course offerings included here, but users can expect something similar to other paid software learning centers. We’re not entirely sure whether certification is an option or not.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Blackbaud’s solution is undoubtedly one of the most popular donor management software options for a reason. The platform provides unparalleled reporting, a ton of features, and stands to help boost fundraising efforts by providing greater visibility.
While existing users have complained repeatedly about the clunky, unattractive interface, it seems that Blackbaud has rolled out a new solution that looks much nicer and feels more modern.
Still, even with the updates, users reported similar issues. For example, there’s the problem with accurate reporting. There are issues understanding the platform. Which makes sense, given that all activities appear to have a long list of very specific steps involved.
And finally, we were not impressed by the information posted on the site. There is a lot of content, to be sure. However, the makers of this product have gated basic information that can help people understand if Raiser’s Edge will meet their needs.
While the tool sounds promising, we still don’t have a sense of how much it costs or what the features lineup looks like. For that reason, it might be worth doing a bit more research to ensure you find a platform that meets your needs.