Omatic recently conducted a webinar for nonprofits on the topic of integrating data between Blackbaud solutions and Salesforce. Attendees represented organizations that were current and prospective Omatic customers, and that were contemplating integration or exploring integration options. Participants included those using Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge® or Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT® and Salesforce NPSP.
What does the future hold?
During the session, we asked participants to tell us what they thought their future held in terms of how they planned to use Raiser’s Edge and/or Salesforce. The results were surprising.
- 28% stated they planned to move entirely to Salesforce down the road
- 3% stated they planned to move entirely to Raiser’s Edge NXT down the road
- 69% told us that they planned to use both systems for different, but appropriate, purposes
That 69% was unexpected – it meant that more than 2 out of every 3 nonprofits surveyed using both Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce plan to use both systems indefinitely – and, therefore, have the need for ongoing data integration into the foreseeable future.
Why use Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce at the same time?
What are the reasons that a nonprofit would need to use both Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce? When we polled that group of webinar attendees, our hypothesis was that we’d hear from the majority of organizations that they were planning, ultimately, a migration from one system to the other and were using both only on a temporary basis. While there is a need for integration in this scenario, that need is also on a temporary basis.
But, as we talked to nonprofits – existing Omatic clients and also those that were initially exploring integration alternatives – and did more research, we discovered a number of use cases for deploying and maintaining both systems in parallel. The two most common are these:
- Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce are used in ways that are ‘fit for purpose’ across the organization, so data are generally captured in one system and need to be used – or at the very least reflected (eg, for reporting purposes) – in the other. Some examples of this are:
- Using Raiser’s Edge as a back-office gift processing solution and Salesforce as the organization’s main CRM database
- Using Raiser’s Edge as the main fundraising CRM system, and using Salesforce as the main program management system – program participants make good donor prospects and donors make good program participation prospects.
- For bifurcated organizations, using Raiser’s Edge to manage the 501(c)(3) and using Salesforce to manage the 501(c)(4) or (c)(6), etc.
- Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce are used more broadly across the organization and need to be ‘mirrored’ or synchronized so that the latest information is available in both. Examples of this might be:
- One system is used for high-volume fundraising, such as direct marketing and email, and the other is used for major and planned giving. Both systems would need to remain synchronized so that donors and prospects are properly segmented, suppressed, and communicated with, in addition to consistent reporting.
- One system is being migrated to the other, and the systems need to stay in sync during the deployment process. (What’s interesting about this example is that many organizations have come to the realization that – with a solid, dependable integration strategy and technology platform in place – they can integrate long term instead of migrating.)
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of scenarios, but only what we’ve directly observed in the sector. There are likely other use cases which support an organization using both Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce, supported by effective, reliable, integration technology.
Omatic Cloud – ‘How Convenient’
It’s funny how things sometimes come together at the right time.
Omatic has been integrating Salesforce and Raiser’s Edge for years as part of ImportOmatic (‘IOM’), Omatic’s flagship plug-in integration solution. Our Salesforce Connector for IOM was (and still is) an API-based, bi-directional data health and integration application that serves a number of organizations to this day.
But now, Omatic has also built Omatic Cloud, our next-generation data health and integration platform for nonprofits, deployed upon and secured by Microsoft Azure, and leveraging its state-of-the-art cloud security tools. Omatic Cloud has been the game-changer for Omatic to provide integration with all the power and sophistication of IOM to Cloud-based systems such as Salesforce, Blackbaud CRM, and Raiser’s Edge NXT. For quite a while now, nonprofits using Salesforce have been able to leverage Omatic Cloud for integrating data from satellite systems such as Luminate Online, Classy, Engaging Networks, and WealthEngine, not to mention files furnished in Excel or csv formats.
So – it only made sense for Omatic to take the history and experience of IOM and its Salesforce Connector and combine it with the technology of Omatic Cloud to create our bi-directional, API-based, cloud-based integration for Raiser’s Edge NXT and Salesforce (NPSP and HEDA). Well, how convenient!
A Little More About Omatic Cloud
Omatic Cloud (‘OC’) is a product-agnostic, Cloud-based technology platform that serves as a ‘middleware’ data health and integration toolset for nonprofits. The OC platform provides a common data ingestion point and a uniform integration experience across all data sources and destinations. OC ensures that data being exchanged are processed consistently, and that data operations are standardized. In addition, the user-interface, data mapping and configuration features, and data processing procedures are consistent for the end-user, regardless of data source or destination.
Omatic designed and developed Omatic Cloud as a high-tech conduit that connects applications and moves data – safely and cleanly – back and forth between systems. On top of that foundation, Omatic has built an extensive API-based Connector library based on 20 years of building nonprofit integrations, and familiarity with the key systems in use within the sector today. Top of that list, of course, are Blackbaud’s and Salesforce’s CRM systems for nonprofits.
This allows nonprofits not only to have the leading solution for integrating Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce, but also gives nonprofits something that the commercial sector has had for some time: a cloud integration ecosystem that can support all of an organization’s integration needs, including data exchange between all satellite or ‘point’ systems and whatever CRMs are part of your nonprofit universe.
Omatic’s solution also includes supporting the integration of data files that come in plain old Excel or csv formats – such as the high volume of gift entry data that come from bank lock boxes or caging facilities. Expedient, high-volume gift entry has routinely risen to the top of the business process challenges that we’ve heard from Salesforce users, so – as a bonus – Omatic Cloud solves for that problem as well.
Omatic Cloud Integration for Raiser’s Edge NXT and Salesforce: A Few Things to Keep in Mind and Ponder
1. Which data, which direction
OC offers bidirectional integration between Raiser’s Edge NXT and Salesforce NPSP or HEDA. You likely have a great deal of data in a great deal of locations in each system, so it makes sense to start thinking about exactly what you need exchanged and in which directions. That will likely take some amount of analysis and some amount of time, so it’s never too early to begin pondering – and getting input from colleagues. That said, among the key features of OC are the proper record-matching algorithms, data transformation options (to ensure that data adhere to your systems’ standards), and validation tools. These features will safeguard the data exchange process so that you needn’t be concerned about data integrity, only about the actual objects and records that you need to integrate.
2. Automation vs. Control
Another concern is the balance between automation and control as data flows from one system to the other. On one end of the spectrum, OC can be configured for maximum automation, which means the end-user simply kicks off the integration process and every datum moves – unmonitored and unreviewed – from source to destination. On the other end of the spectrum is maximum control, which means that the end-user monitors and checks every record as it passes through OC on its way from one system to the other.
The best practice, of course, is a comfortable balance: data about which there is the highest confidence is automated, and data which truly needs to be reviewed is reviewable. OC offers this balance and it can be configured more toward control or more toward automation or wherever the end-users are most comfortable. What we’ve found is that the majority of users begin their OC journey with the balance weighted more heavily on the control side, and as they use the solution and get more comfortable with how it processes records and with their own review requirements, they reconfigure the balance so that it’s weighted more toward automation. But remember, it’s completely up to you, and even if the balance is more on the control side, the outcomes will still result in saved time and superior data quality across the board.
3. On-Demand vs. Scheduled vs. Continuous Flow
Something else to think about is how and when you want to integrate. Omatic Cloud provides the options of integrating on-demand, i.e., whenever you want to run the process; scheduling the process to run, eg, every day at a certain time; or continuously. While there’s a lot more nuance to each of these options than we have room to describe in this piece, suffice it to say that someone planning to integrate data between RE and Salesforce needs to consider the volume of data being exchanged and the frequency of what that exchange should look like.
One more thing – integrating data with OC is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Omatic Cloud gives you the opportunity to use a variety of different formulae – a ‘formula’ in OC is equivalent to a template for integrating a specific set of data – to specify different data sets that you want to integrate in different ways and at different frequencies. So, for example, you might choose to integrate email address changes continuously but send gift information back and forth once a week.
The Intersection of Blackbaud and Salesforce
Ever since Omatic began working to integrate Salesforce and Raiser’s Edge data, we knew that some nonprofits used both systems for different purposes, but it was more recently that we began to better understand just how many (many!) nonprofits were leveraging the value of having both systems working together in peace and harmony.
And, because of that, in recent years, Omatic has stepped up its game; and now provides a broader gamut of data health and integration solutions that support the overall Blackbaud and Salesforce nonprofit markets, leveraging Omatic’s 20 years (more than 1000 person-years) of experience in the world of data integration supporting unique, nonprofit-specific, data flows.
Respondents and data are showing us: the vast majority of organizations that use both Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce are planning to use them together indefinitely, for a variety of different, parallel, or even mirrored purposes. And the data that reside in those two systems can do those nonprofits far more good when they are shared, exchanged, integrated, and appropriately leveraged by the other system.
Omatic has an app for that.