A stable suite of tools that needs to get competitive soon
Updated November 10, 2017

A stable suite of tools that needs to get competitive soon

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 4 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Modules Used

  • Luminate Online

Overall Satisfaction with Luminate

Luminate Online is used by all departments across the organization as our primary tool for online donation processing, email marketing, event ticketing, and community fundraisers.
  • Email Deliverability - our sender reputation is well protected and emails are always sent promptly regardless of the size.
  • Diverse toolset - there are many advantages to having a wide array of tools within a single product.
  • TeamRaiser - TeamRaiser is one of the only products on the market right now that accommodates everything we need for a major fundraising event.
  • Integration with other Blackbaud tools - integration has always been a problem. Solutions are on the horizon, but are still unproven.
  • Product improvement - Luminate has been extremely slow to make major product improvements. Some advancements have been rolled out, but it is still largely the same product it was 5 years ago.
  • Pricing - Luminate is starting to get priced out of the market by promising newcomers. They are going to have to get competitive very quickly or we will not have a choice but to explore other options.
There are a number of newcomers to the market, which we are watching closely. In particular, donate.ly looks like a promising alternative to many Luminate functions, and MailChimp seems like potentially a more effective and modern email marketing platform.
It is well suited if you need a lot of solutions under one platform and have more money than technical staff. It is often not a good solution if you have out-of-the-box needs or can't afford the premium you pay for a Blackbaud product. Particularly for organizations that are smaller or just starting to build their digital efforts, finding several more specialized tools that can sync up to a single constituent database can often be a better solution.

Using Luminate

17 - We have a wide range of business functions using Luminate to differing degrees. Marketing and Events departments use it heavily for event ticketing, fundraising activities, and email marketing. Our Finance and Donation Processing groups primarily use it for pulling user and donation data out for financial reconciliation and to feed data into Raiser's Edge.
We are likely to renew mainly because there is not a competitive tool in the current market can could provide the same breadth of solutions as Luminate, and because our processes have been built around it for years, not because we are overly happy with it. However, as the costs for Luminate rise and feature development stagnates, we are increasingly wishing we had better options available.

Luminate Training

Training options are limited, costly, and poorly organized. Before the Blackbaud acquisition, Convio had a large number of topical webinars freely available as part of being a client. Now, all but the most basic training opportunities are only available at expensive à la carte prices or through an access plan that is even more cost prohibitive for all but the biggest organizations. We have had to handle onboarding and training almost completely internally because of the lack of viable options.

Configuring Luminate

There are many options with the "s-tags" when operating within the
Luminate environment if you can get through the poor documentation, but
those really only help with variable content. Many options seem like
they should be configurable (for example, required fields on a user-side form or data that should be in a report), but are often impossible to change, even
after engaging LO support. To try to change default configurations too
far past the way it was built almost always requires you to go into
full-on customization.

Luminate Support

Some general support technicians are excellent, but overall they are powerless to help with anything beyond general instructions, and solving real problems is a nightmare. I have had open support tickets for years regarding things as basic and critical as bugs in report results, and often the answer is simply "no."

Using Luminate

Functions are often inconsistently placed from module to module, buried deep in settings, or only available from certain screens, creating a steep learning curve. There are also frequently limitations to what you can or cannot accomplish that are not intuitive and can hold up progress or require workarounds. Add to all of that very poor help documentation and very limited "sandbox" testing options, and you have a very frustrating tool that requires a lot of trial and error to operate.

Luminate Reliability

With recent improvements, server load and performance is usually not an issue. However, the main two issues that prevent it from being effective at varying scales are the contract and billing methods and cleanup and reporting tools. The contract and billing models make it very expensive up-front, and that cost is only growing year to year. This keeps Luminate from being practical for many small and growing organizations. On the other hand, the limited and unreliable reporting, testing, and de-duping tools available make common maintenance very time-consuming on a large scale, which has been holding back our ability to grow with it. While having a broad suite of tools under one product is helpful if you happen to be the right fit, sometimes it feels like the worst of both worlds for a growing organization.