Good, bad, and ugly
Updated December 16, 2018
Good, bad, and ugly
Loyola University University New OrleansHigher Education, 501-1000 employees
Score 7 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with The Raisers Edge
Raisers Edge is used by our fundraising department and accessed by departments throughout the university. We use it primarily to track alumni and donors.
- This integrates very well with Microsoft Office products, which for reporting, letter writing and syncing to Outlook calendars sets it apart from many fundraising software options.
- The complex architecture means that there are standards built-in for many different types of data one might need to track. Many software options are customizable to each organization, but having many different standard fields means that many organizations are tracking data by the same standard. This also makes it easier to onboard new staff who have prior experience with the software.
- The Blackbaud Knowledge base is great, but the user community puts it above the rest. If Raisers Edge is number 1 in anything, the forums are tops. They have a community of active users who share their software policies and processes, but also best business practices for others to adopt. What Blackbaud did is incentivize users to respond, and then organized responses by needs, indexed it for easy searching, and even when I'm not an org. using their software, I still go to their users to seek creative solutions.
- Additional modules are not tied to additional Query types. This means if I pay extra so we can have unique records to track each major gift proposal, we can still only group by the people we are soliciting and then report on all of their proposals, rather than being able to target by type or date and so forth.
- In places where they are lacking, people have created plug-ins. It would be nice if the function of these plug-ins was then incorporated into future upgrades, but they never are. It often seems as though once someone else solves a Raiser's Edge problem, the company deems the problem solved and pays no more attention to it.
- The technical support staff are beginner to intermediate users and it shows. They lack experience using the software at an actual non-profit, they quote from the user guides and often, they are wrong about what the software cannot do. They often say the software can't do it, or they don't have a solution yet, but frequently they are underestimating the software, or don't know how to trick it.
- The user guides and support are often experts in Raiser's Edge, but not in the other Blackbaud integrated software, so if you have issues with how one of their solutions (like NetCommunity) speaks/integrates to Raiser's Edge, you can speak to people who are experts in one or the other but not both. So neither are able to solve the problem because neither knows how the other piece works, yet they all work for the same company!
- There are huge issues with gift reporting, and if you check out user forums you'll find that regardless of years of complaints, nothing has changed in the software architecture. Issue one is that there is no way to report on soft credits that come from a spouse gift as opposed to an corportate/foundation gift. Two is that there is no way good way to report on split gifts. You can get the data, sort of, and you can somersault in external reporting software like Crystal Reports, but at the end of the day it has never worked well. Three is that the built-in gift reports are extremely limited in the type of data they can display. Fourth is that the built-in analytical reports are limited in how they allow you to target data; for instance, there is a strong desire to be able to report on consistent giving rather than consecutive years giving - and here you encounter issues with the way soft credits are attributed, how the analysis makes no acceptions for one missed year out of 25 giving years, and so forth. Though these things can be built in custom reports, it'd be nice if more of the built-in reports met the needs of the average fundraising office.
- Perhaps the biggest problem with Raiser's Edge stems from the customer expectation. It is the top of the line software in non-profits, it is very expensive yet widely used. It is very complex software, and every customer should have staff who are dedicated to managing the software, maintaining and cleaning the data. Three years after converting to RE, many clients find themselves scrambling to hire database managers or outside consultants to clean up the disasterous mess of data scattered, hidden, throughout the database. This seems like a very common occurrence, especially in mid-size to small organizations.
- We manage 50K alumni records and are able to update their contact information, track their giving and solicitations, track relationships to classmates, family alumni, and employers quite well. We manage an additional 50K constituents who give to or influence our university, and we are able to code them in a manner that makes it fairly simple to target solicitations, target messaging, and tailor events to the interests of our community.
- Salesforce and GiftMakerPro
I've used GiftMakerPro and Salesforce, and two custom built databases. Raisers Edge is by far the most sophisticated. Salesforce was far less expensive, and though it didn't provide as much space for complexity, it was well suited to small offices. GiftMakerPro was better at grant management. Custom databases are a consistent disaster because the people who designed them didn't understand the nature of the work, and then they leave the organization and no one knows how to continue adding features to their creation.
Large non-profits are great clients for this software. Anyone investing in a custom database should consider Raisers Edge (RE) first, as custom databases are only as good as the staff who built it and the likelihood that they won't get a different job. Mid-size organizations who are donor funded more than grant funded should take a good look at this, especially if they can invest in training for a staff person solely dedicated to managing the software. Small organizations, particularly those with a fundraising department of fewer than 10, should look elsewhere at software like Salesforce. Any organization who relies heavily on grant funding or needs to do extensive endowment management/reporting should look for an alternative as Raiser's Edge has never successfully created grant management tools, nor do they have integrated software for this.