Using Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge® and Salesforce in Peace and Harmony

May 3, 2021

Pop-quiz.  Please stop whatever you’re doing and answer the following question:

‘If I use both Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge® / Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT® and Salesforce to manage different areas of my nonprofit, it’s because:’ 

a.  That’s the way we’ve always done it here

b.  I truly do enjoy working way too hard 

c.  I’ll soon be dumping one system in favor of the other

d.  I realize that I can both engage more constituents across the board and raise more money by leveraging the best data out of both systems 

e.  I’ve started to ‘drink the Kool-Aid’ – and think just maybe that both solutions could peaceably co-exist 

The correct answer, of course, is ‘d’, and there is certainly hope for those who selected ‘e’ and have an open mind about these solutions working collaboratively in peace and harmony. 

Omatic Software has worked with a number of nonprofits who have decided to effectively use both and to each systems’ advantage. We are getting more and more inquiries each month from organizations who are using both – or contemplating using both – systems. The key is proper configuration of both databases; this is needed to support the effective exchange of key data back and forth. 

It goes without saying that nonprofits love Raiser’s Edge as a development-focused CRM system – one could debate that there is really nothing that compares with it – for managing fundraising-related engagement, donors, prospects, transactions, and activities. 

In the same vein, Salesforce NPSP can be built out to very effectively serve nonprofits’ overall and overarching organizational CRM requirements – with great facility to support not only fundraising, but marketing automation, grant-making, ticketing, case management, program management, and related organizational needs.  Salesforce HEDA serves educational institutions much the same way. 

Nonprofit strategists will immediately recognize that data in each system could be very effectively leveraged by the other, assuming that the systems can effectively talk to each other and assuming that someone is watching out for which data are exchanged between the two. 

An Example 

One quick example, and then on to the tactical stuff. 

Omatic recently worked with a client that used Raiser’s Edge for fundraising and Salesforce for program management.  The programming revolved around connecting individuals into community-based discussion groups.  These groups would then meet regularly to focus on advancing the mission of the organization in their community.  The organization used Raiser’s Edge for traditional fundraising and Salesforce for marketing the discussion groups to engaged and unengaged individuals and then tracking the individuals’ group membership and participation. 

It soon became obvious that those engaged in discussion groups would be prime fundraising prospects.  Similarly, those who donated to the organization because they wanted to support the mission overall might be great prospects for discussion groups. 

The major challenge was how to easily and systematically exchange the right data back and forth, and ensuring that it was properly coded on both sides.  The solution was an Omatic Cloud Connector, which addressed those challenges effortlessly and comprehensively. 

5 Considerations to ponder when you want to leverage both Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce together 

The example discussed above is one of many – but in working with organizations that use both RE and Salesforce, Omatic has picked up some key learnings that we want to shareBelow are some things to consider if your organization uses both  Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce, and wants to leverage the potential value of integrating each systems’ key data with the other. 

  1. Which system is the organization’s main System of Record?  Which system, for example, will be the first place to enter biographical updates – changes to statuses, street addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and preferences.  The system of record should always be the system with the most current information – on which end-users routinely depend.
  2. Is there a consistent record structure between systems?  What parallels, if any, exist between Constituents and Relationships in Raiser’s Edge and Accounts and Contacts in Salesforce?  Is Householding treated consistently in both systems?  What about transaction-level data – what parallels, if any, exist between funds and appeals in Raiser’s Edge, and GAUs and campaigns in Salesforce. 
  3. Which data need to flow between systems?  And especially, which data live in one system that do not ‘naturally occur’ in the other?  Will you be focusing on individuals only or organizational data as well?  Do transactional data need to be exchanged, and how will source transactions be coded in the destination system?
  4. Is it worthwhile to audit both systems in advance, to ensure that the envisioned data flow will work?  (We generally think ‘yes!’).  Will Raiser’s Edge attributes or custom Salesforce fields need to be configured?  What new coding needs to be designed and configured to support the ‘foreign’ data that will now be coming in regularly?  Are there any business rules that need to be incorporated?  (Example:  the constituent ID for any new constituent that comes into Raiser’s Edge from Salesforce will be appended with an ‘S’.)
  5. Process definition:  Will data be traveling both ways or just one way?  How frequently do data need to be exchanged?  What’s the best process for managing duplicates?  How will you address biographical dissonance (eg, same constituent, different email address)?  What is the method for adding new data elements to (or subtracting them from) the synch as the process evolves? 

Achieving your vision for Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce working together 

Omatic Software continues to build world-class data health and integration solutions for nonprofits.  Omatic Cloud, Omatic’s next-generation data health and integration platform for nonprofits, is built on a Microsoft Azure foundation and ensures quick and seamless bidirectional integration between Raiser’s Edge NXT, Salesforce, and any ‘satellite’ data management systems that you might use for specific purposes. 

If you answered ‘d’ or even ‘e’ to the pop quiz, then you are a visionary; please let us know if we can help you achieve your vision.  If you answered ‘c’, we hope you’ll reconsider, but we probably can help you ease the transition if we can’t talk you into the power of integrating these two best-of-breed solutions.  Now, if you answered ‘a’ or ‘b’, there are some therapists that we can recommend . . . . 

Stu Manewith, CFRE
Stu Manewith, CFRE joined Omatic Software six years ago and serves as the company’s Director of Thought Leadership and Advocacy. In that role, he is Omatic’s nonprofit sector domain specialist and subject-matter expert and is responsible for actively promoting and demonstrating Omatic’s position as the nonprofit industry’s leading partner in the areas of data health and integration. Prior to Omatic, Stu spent 13 years at Blackbaud, working with Raiser’s Edge, Financial Edge, and Blackbaud CRM client organizations as a consultant, solution architect, and practice manager. Previously, Stu spent the first half of his career as a nonprofit executive, fundraiser, and finance director, working in both the healthcare and arts/cultural arenas of the nonprofit sector. He holds business degrees from Washington University and the University of Wisconsin, and he earned his CFRE credential in 1999.