If you’re searching for a customer relationship management (CRM) system for your nonprofit, there are two major players to choose between: Blackbaud and Salesforce.
Blackbaud is a technology and software company specifically focused on helping nonprofits. It offers a dedicated enterprise CRM product and a fundraising and donation management solution, Raiser’s Edge NXT.
Salesforce is perhaps the best-known and most powerful CRM system in the world. While any business can use it, the company also offers a solution tailored to nonprofits with its Nonprofit Cloud.
A new CRM is a significant investment for most nonprofits, so it’s important to choose the right one. In the contest of Blackbaud vs Salesforce, we look at which is better.
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First, let’s examine Blackbaud. Because of its focus on serving nonprofits, Blackbaud is often the default choice. But does it deserve to be?
Both Blackbaud products have everything you need from a nonprofit CRM, including donation management, donor engagement, marketing functionality, and a payment solution.
The two offerings means there’s something for nonprofits of all sizes. Raiser’s Edge NXT is an excellent choice for smaller organizations as it works out of the box without requiring any customization.
Blackbaud CRM delivers a comprehensive offering to larger nonprofits and can be customized and configured in just about any way imaginable. It also integrates with an array of third-party software.
The catch-all nature of Blackbaud may mean that neither tool will fit your specific needs without a lot of expensive and time-consuming customization. The lack of an API to integrate with other software may also lead to problems for some teams.
Teams usually require extensive training to get up and running with Blackbaud’s programs, particularly if they’re trying to use the administrative side of the platform.
Finally, there are questions about data security. Blackbaud suffered a data breach in May 2020, writes Kirsty Weakley, editor of the Civil Society News daily bulletin. Cybercriminals obtained donor data using a ransomware attack.
“Blackbaud said that no credit card or payment data was obtained by criminals,” she writes, “and that it paid the ransom to ensure that data will not be made publicly available or shared elsewhere.”
Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud
The CRM giant has a dedicated offering for nonprofits looking to track, manage, and nurture donors. Here’s how it stacks up.
Because Nonprofit Cloud sits on top of the Salesforce platform, you’ll have access to the full power of the world’s leading CRM. That includes in-depth relationship tracking, detailed reports, and third-party integrations.
It’s also completely customizable, writes Salesforce consultant Heather Black. “Salesforce can be fully customized to meet your data-collection and reporting needs across the organization, plus you can continue to evolve it as your needs change,” she explains.
“You can manipulate the system and the analytic reports, making it useful and relevant to you. It comes with the benefit of some existing out of the box functionality that can be tweaked, making it ideal for fundraising, volunteer management and case management.”
The sheer scalability of the product means it’s a great option for large nonprofits as well as organizations looking to grow substantially in the future.
The open-source nature of Salesforce’s nonprofit offering is also a boon. Salesforce’s Nonprofit Cloud has a strong community supporting it, which makes it easy to find a developer to set up your CRM or to get help and advice from other users.
Salesforce is complex, and that can make it a time-consuming and expensive option.
It typically takes more time to implement Salesforce than Blackbaud. You’ll likely need the help of a developer, too, as very little functionality comes ready to use out of the box. On top of that, you’ll probably need to pay for other third-party tools and applications if you want to use Salesforce as your core CRM and donor management platform.
The cost of Salesforce’s Nonprofit Cloud may also be prohibitive. While the solution is free for the first 10 licenses, costs can quickly escalate as you scale.
An alternative to Blackbaud and Salesforce
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a case of only Blackbaud vs Salesforce. There are plenty of alternative CRMs for your nonprofit, including JotForm.
Jotform makes it easy for nonprofits of all sizes to collect donations directly using donation forms. It also automates part of the CRM process by storing all of the data from those donation forms in highly customizable and easy-to-use Jotform Tables. Both forms and tables are easy to use out of the box and are available with ready-to-use templates.
Jotform is also one of the most affordable solutions on the market, with a 50 percent discount available to all nonprofit organizations.
Image by: Anete Lūsiņa