Shedding Some Light on Luminate Online
August 15, 2016

Shedding Some Light on Luminate Online

Jeremy Reynolds | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Modules Used

  • Luminate Online

Overall Satisfaction with Luminate Online

Raiser's Edge has long been the standard-bearer for non-profit fundraising world, but is certainly shows its age when it comes to the online world. Luminate Online addresses the online half of the equation, offering an all-in-one place for donation collection, peer-to-peer fundraising, GA/advocacy, and email communications. ZERO uses the platform for all of these, but our most significant area of use is fundraising: DIY pages, Run/Walk and Endurance Race series, individual fundraising events (such as our November "Grow & Give" campaign), and EOY giving.
Just as important as the tools, Luminate Online does an adequate job syncing its data with Raiser's Edge. It's certainly rough around the edges, but that direct integration is key for planning sophisticated campaigns and segmenting users intelligently. And, for orgs who have web developer resources, the system can access that database to personalize web content and capture additional user data.
  • Integration with Raiser's Edge (RE). For those who use RE, it's tough to find a better way to push/pull data between your online and offline database.
  • Advanced Customization. LO's REST API and Session Tag system can give advanced end users the flexibility to work around limitations of a CMS that is otherwise restrained to basic HTML/CSS/JS.
  • Ongoing development. Product managers realize the need for ongoing improvement, as attested to by their internal development of the Sky CSS framework, jQuery API library, social media and email campaign improvements, and recent acquisition of
  • LO fails on many search engine basics, such its title tags, server-side redirect codes, URL structure, and so on.
  • Full data integration. While the system connects to Raiser's Edge as well as any other CMS/CRM combo I've used, it's still not all the way there. It'll sync demographic and contact info, donations, and so forth, but important data points still don't come across (e.g. group segmentation, organizational gifts, social media data). Much of this is because Raiser's Edge is just plain old and inflexible.
  • eCommerce. It's startling just how many obvious features are missing from LO's online store capabilities. There's no order management, no single location to say which items have been purchased, or which orders have been filled, or what your inventory is, or any of your shipping information, or who has communicated with purchasers in any way.
  • Modern email. It remains to be seen what will happen when LO's email beta goes live, but the current system does not do responsive, or do code sanitization, or have the ease of use that you'd see with the MailChimps and Constant Contacts of the world.
  • Full websites. LO is good at creating a DIY site, but is not quite fit for a deep, content-driven website. Fortunately, there's some level of external integration with its REST API, but expect to build your main site on Wordpress or Drupal.
When it comes to meeting all of the needs for a non-profit to effectively fundraise – email, web, merchant services, advocacy, eCommerce, CRM – the Blackbaud ecosystem is the only one that can do everything in one place, and do so reasonably well.
A stronger solution may be to cobble together MailChimp for email, Shopify/Magento/WooCommerce for online store, Wordpress/Drupal/Joomla for a website, Salesforce/CiviCRM for database, etc; but that's an awful lot of customization and patchwork. If you want an all-in-one solution that ranges from average to great on its various components, Luminate Online is the place to go.
Facebook for Business, Google Analytics, Moz, Adobe Photoshop, The Raisers Edge, Luminate TeamRaiser, Blackbaud NetCommunity, Google Analytics, Google Drive, Dropbox, WordPress

Running Raiser's edge? Luminate Online (LO) is something of a no-brainer.

Already have a decently sophisticated Drupal/CivicCRM site? Luminate Online probably is better in some ways, and weaker than others (and probably isn't worth the pain of conversion).

Have a small budget and/or basic needs? Luminate Online and Raiser's Edge are cost-prohibitive, and there are certainly other options on the market. Look into NGP's survey of fundraising software; there's options for all ranges of cost, feature sets, and organizational capabilities.

Have a big budget and sophisticated campaigns? Luminate Online is likely the way to go if you do peer-to-peer, walk-a-thons, or other sponsored events. Raiser's Edge is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to fundraising databases, and Luminate Online is as integrated as any other CRM/CMS combo I've used. Definitely take a look at open source and alternative systems; they'll always have more flexibility, and often bring out new features more quickly. But don't assume that less expensive systems are actually less expensive. You may find that the costs of customization and ongoing support distract you from fundraising and increase overhead to the point where the Blackbaud ecosystem actually is on-par in terms of expenses.