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For Non-Profits, Common Ground vs. Raiser's Edge?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the nope-we-lost-it-all dept.

Software 97

lanimreT writes "I work at a medium-sized non-profit organization. We've been considering a switch from our current constituent relationship manager (CRM) The Raiser's Edge to Common Ground, a non-profit-focused CRM built on SalesForce. I would like to hear from other organizations that have already done this. What features are present in Raiser's Edge but missing in Common Ground? Is your workflow improved by the new software? If you had it to do over again, would you make the switch?"

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Yes. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32200930)

No.

Reiser's Edge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32201270)

It sure wasn't his defense.

Reiser's Edge (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32200934)

it's killer, dude

Re:Reiser's Edge (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32201086)

Too soon, dude! Too soon!

Similiar situation (5, Informative)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#32200984)

I looked at moving FROM Raisers Edge to Common Ground and found it lacking a lot of features. As much as I would like to ditch the God awful expense of Raisers Edge, it really is the best fund raising software on the market. The place where Raisers Edge really shines is the query builder. An average, not very skilled user can be trained to run some seriously complex queries in a day or two. Raisers Edge builds the kind of queries that will have skilled SQL DBAs scratching their heads and saying things like, "I never realized you could do that with SQL." It will construct cursors and arrays and other fairly complex data structures on the fly.

The downside of Raisers Edge is the cost, and the complexity. It is a complex system and Blackbaud seems to go out of their way to make it next to impossible to migrate out of the system. It is also a resource hog. Under normal load it will run fine. As soon as you throw one of the previously mentioned uber queries on it, the poor thing will grind to a halt. The other day we did a 50,000 constituent export on a dual, quad-core Xeon box and it took two and a half hours to finish. The query was complex and involved lots of joins, but stilll...

Raisers Edge is one of those programs that if you haven't gotten used to it, you probably won't know what you're missing. I'd suggest giving Common Ground a shot and if it sucks, you can always step up to the gold standard. If it gets the job done for you, then you save all of the maintenance fees that come with Raisers Edge.

Make sure that you get a GOOD demo of Common Ground though. Realize that the canned reports probably won't get the job done and that you are going to have to write your own. I had a hard time getting clear answers from Common Ground about their reporting interface. Also make sure that you have the opportunity to try to build some custom queries with their interface. The application is only worth while if you can actually get your information back out of it.

Make sure you consider how many users you are going to have on it and what the load will be. Make sure that you consider your bandwidth requirements. Consider the previously mentioned 50,000 constituent export. Can Common Ground even handle that? Will it absolutely bring the system / internet connection to its knees?

Re:Similiar situation (4, Insightful)

Toze (1668155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201330)

Raisers Edge builds the kind of queries that will have skilled SQL DBAs scratching their heads and saying things like, "I never realized you could do that with SQL."

As soon as you throw one of the previously mentioned uber queries on it, the poor thing will grind to a halt. The other day we did a 50,000 constituent export on a dual, quad-core Xeon box and it took two and a half hours to finish.

Sir, I think it is possible that the head-scratching from the skilled DBAs is less "how" and more "why." Not that all queries should run quickly, but if it takes 2.5 hours to select 50,000 rows I suspect that there may be a lack of optimization in how it builds those queries. Or possibly in how it builds its indices. Or something.

Re:Similiar situation (2, Funny)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32202540)

Maybe it's less "head-scratching" and more "face-palm".

Re:Similiar situation (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#32209190)

How long do you think it should take to query and then export 50,000 records pulled from 15 separate tables, where each join has a minimum of three conditional modifiers on it? I'm honestly curious about how other applications would handle it.

I'm not talking about 50,000 records from a single table. These are records will full gift histories, prospect histories, limited by zip code, membership level, etc.

I've always had the feeling that Raisers Edge wasn't the best written software in the world, but I don't have anything to compare it to. The user interface is good and my users like it. It's easier to just throw hardware at the problem.

Re:Similiar situation (1)

Toze (1668155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32210126)

I don't know, 5 or 10 minutes? I mean, assuming the export doesn't involve massive blobs or a crap network, with 15 tables a DBA should be able to optimize a query pretty well and query a minimal number of rows in each join. 2.5 hours sounds like it's triggering full-table scans per row. If your query takes longer than a backup, you're reading from disk too much.

I'm not saying RE is crap, just that their query builder doesn't optimize well. I haven't dealt with query builders hardly at all, so I don't know if that's a strike against them or expected.

Re:Similiar situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32212736)

Organizations of any complexity need a data warehouse on top of RE to manage the data extraction. Once the data is out of the highly normalized RE data structures, it is reasonably straightforward to optimize. Also you can push data to users who would not normally logon to the legacy software.

Re:Similiar situation (2, Informative)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201516)

We use Salesforce.com (since rebranded as Common Ground), and I can answer most of these queries -- on tech backbone, it's the best you're going to get. It's all done in the cloud, and it's fairly robust commercial grade stuff. Exporting 50,000 records is just a question of downloading the CSV. If it's a really big job, they schedule it and ship it in an hour or so. Given that most NPOs can't or don't want to invest in their own hardware, putting it in the cloud is a really good idea. Likewise with data security concerns -- Salesforce.com is much better than leaving it to the typical NPO tech guy.

J

Re:Similiar situation (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201854)

Salesforce.com is much better than leaving it to the typical NPO tech guy.

Most NPOs can't even afford a decent tech guy, much less a dedicated DBA.

Re:Similiar situation (2, Insightful)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203028)

Most NPOs can't even afford a decent tech guy, much less a dedicated DBA.

Remember that the next time someone asks how they can build a resume or get some experience. It may not be cutting edge, but working on an older system, gathering requirements, implementing changes and training... that can make a huge difference in their systems, build your resume, and give you an excellent reference. All this plus you can do some good. Find a charity that you like (warning: some have extremely strong views - know who you volunteer for) and it will be a really rewarding experience.

Re:Similiar situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32239718)

This isn't actually correct that salesforce.com was rebranded as Common Ground. The Common Ground solution was built on salesforce's Force.com platform by Convio. Convio's Common Ground product is it's own separate and unique product that they designed to match a lot of the functionality of Raiser's Edge. Since it's built on the salesforce platform, anyone who knows salesforce already will be at least a little bit more comfortable using Common Ground.

Additionally, the salesforce.com Foundation has had a nonprofit template for several years now that nonprofits can sign up to receive 10 donated licenses for. This Nonprofit Starter Pack template of salesforce.com also uses the salesforce.com platform, and is just customized to have more relevant terminology than the standard business template that salesforce has been known for on the for-profit side for over a decade. The Nonprofit Starter Pack is a much, much lighter template than Convio's Common Ground product, and is a great solution for small to medium sized nonprofits looking to try an enterprise application for little to no cost. Common Ground is a great product with a ton of functionality, and, in my opinion, a bit better suited to more hard core fundraising organizations that can take advantage of all the amazing functionality Convio has built into the solution.

Signed,

A salesforce.com Foundation and Convio consulting partner

Re:Similiar situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32203264)

You're saying that the query builder in RE is great? I liken it to trying to type with both hands tied behind your whilst being simultaneously knocked on the head with a blunt object in a room filled with fiberglass insulation.

The query builder is great if you don't want to do anything complex but when it comes to pulling a subset of constituents who have a number of attributes then you tend to get a lot of unnecessary double ups, ommisions and a few WTF moments. Give me a native SQL interface rather than the clunky query builder any day of the week.

Also if you have used anything else out there you do know what you are missing and that I have to put up with the constant complaints from people who can't understand why they have to click through 3 or 4 screens to input 1 piece of information.

I inherited a 'clean' database that had so many duplicates in it that I am still trying to clean it 12 months later. Add into the mix the false positive duplicates and the hassles with setting up a campaign (set it to go the night before and it should be ready in the morning) and I think that you would be better off paying a little more up front but getting something that is flexible and adaptable to what your organistion needs rather than trying to shoe horn everything into RE.

I would like to move over to something that is flexible and adaptable with out the repeated spamming of "come and do this course for $500-$1000 to teach you stuff you already know how to do"

Re:Similiar situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32203486)

It depends. Raiser's Edge does a lot out of the box and has decent support. I used that at my last job. Raiser's Edge is never going to scale massively, and it's the best of the Blackbaud line-up. (Education Edge is even slower -- one big import was going to run for weeks before we optimized it.) In my new job, we moved from Siebel to SalesForce. There's no comparison to the scalability of SalesForce, but you're going to need to learn SF's query language (oSQL), and get a nice middleware product. We use CastIron (http://www.castiron.com) -- which IBM just bought. We have integrated many other systems with data flows into and out of Salesforce. If you move everything at once, it takes time. (Like six hours for a million records.) If you keep a steady stream going, you can replicate everything to local SQL server in near real time. We do this by having SF triggers fire off messages to our middleware on field udpates. On the other hand, there are plenty of nonprofits that will never need to scale massively, and plenty of folks who work at them who will never ever learn anything new. If you're not going to change and don't need to scale, Raiser's Edge does just fine.

Re:Similiar situation (2, Informative)

Vidar Leathershod (41663) | more than 4 years ago | (#32204286)

Take a look at inResonance's "Generations". It's an open database system which compares very favorably to The Raiser's Edge. The company that produces it is also much nicer to work with than Blackbaud (the company that tried to blame a bug of theirs on a user's mouse, I kid you not).

When Blackbaud was acquiring the admissions product used at an institution I worked for, I found inResonance's admission product, which was not only nicer, but much, much cheaper, with excellent support and training. They also handled the data import from soup to nuts. At the time, they were just developing Generations (this was 11 years ago). The founder made it a practice to know how the various aspects of admissions/fundraising/etc., worked when developing these products, so they feel very natural to the departments that use them.

Luckily, having now been in the "for profit" business for quite some time for myself, I no longer have need of these things :).

Forgot to add the link... (1)

Vidar Leathershod (41663) | more than 4 years ago | (#32204292)

Forgot to add the link:

http://www.inresonance.com/GN [inresonance.com]

Re:Forgot to add the link... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32204356)

Oh dear God. It's based off FileMaker Pro. Kill me now.

Re:Forgot to add the link... (1)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32204410)

Because a non-profit with a few thousand entries needs something more complex? I understand not this complex hatred for FileMaker Pro.

Re:Similiar situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32206150)

I find that typical non-profit database users (not necessarily the tech-savvy type) who think Raiser's Edge is a facile database to query have never used a FileMaker-based system that was reasonably developed. The complexity of a query you can do with fundamental training (less than a day or two) far outpaces that for any other platform, either directly (i.e. SQL) or engineered (i.e. Blackbaud). If a non-profit believes that they can adopt a less fully-featured product than Raiser's Edge, they should look for a product that was not built to handle a domain far away from their own. I am convinced that Salesforce, for example, has failed at as many non-profits as where it has succeeded. Advocates say that it is either free or cheap, which tells me their value basis is skewed by that. You need to spend a manageable amount of money to (a) get an actual fundraising software and (b) with a company that actually has experience in this arena. Some of these systems are FileMaker-based. Others are web-based, which is sometimes appropriate, depending on the size and tech support of the non-profit, among other factors.

CiviCRM definitely comes closer to meeting fundraising needs than Salesforce, though it is similarly limiting. You can only develop within the current structure, and web development expense far outpaces that of most other platforms (including FileMaker and SQL). In my view, however, starting somewhere can be challenging unless you have an experienced developer who knows the domain and the platform you are using.

Re: RE export time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32206270)

I looked at moving FROM Raisers Edge to Common Ground and found it lacking a lot of features. As much as I would like to ditch the God awful expense of Raisers Edge, it really is the best fund raising software on the market. The place where Raisers Edge really shines is the query builder. An average, not very skilled user can be trained to run some seriously complex queries in a day or two. Raisers Edge builds the kind of queries that will have skilled SQL DBAs scratching their heads and saying things like, "I never realized you could do that with SQL." It will construct cursors and arrays and other fairly complex data structures on the fly.

The downside of Raisers Edge is the cost, and the complexity. It is a complex system and Blackbaud seems to go out of their way to make it next to impossible to migrate out of the system. It is also a resource hog. Under normal load it will run fine. As soon as you throw one of the previously mentioned uber queries on it, the poor thing will grind to a halt. The other day we did a 50,000 constituent export on a dual, quad-core Xeon box and it took two and a half hours to finish. The query was complex and involved lots of joins, but stilll...

Raisers Edge is one of those programs that if you haven't gotten used to it, you probably won't know what you're missing. I'd suggest giving Common Ground a shot and if it sucks, you can always step up to the gold standard. If it gets the job done for you, then you save all of the maintenance fees that come with Raisers Edge.

Make sure that you get a GOOD demo of Common Ground though. Realize that the canned reports probably won't get the job done and that you are going to have to write your own. I had a hard time getting clear answers from Common Ground about their reporting interface. Also make sure that you have the opportunity to try to build some custom queries with their interface. The application is only worth while if you can actually get your information back out of it.

Make sure you consider how many users you are going to have on it and what the load will be. Make sure that you consider your bandwidth requirements. Consider the previously mentioned 50,000 constituent export. Can Common Ground even handle that? Will it absolutely bring the system / internet connection to its knees?

Quick question re RE exports on a hosted system:

I've experienced that long export a few times. Must say I was shocked because that is pretty rare for RE. What I'm wondering is whether that would continue to be an issue when using Blackbaud's hosting function?

Re:Similiar situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32207330)

I used to work for Blackbaud. My personal favorite description was "Our clients are non-profits, mostly because of our pricing structure" ;-) Totally my quote and not the company's.

My problem was that almost 50% of company revenue came from the software maintenance fees. 'Pay 10% of purchase price annually and get free tech support and bug fixes'. It became common place to ship software with known bugs because they could keep people paying for maintenance. If it had bugs they wouldn't stop paying for maintenance.

If you stopped maintenance and restarted it later you had to pay the back maintenance fees for when you didn't have it.

Nice racket IMO.

Re:Similiar situation (1)

ajmiller (1811696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32208884)

I've heard many complaints from nonprofits about the cost of maintenance and new licenses for RE. Just to be upfront, I work for a competitor of RE, and it kills me to see nonprofit after nonprofit forking over their hard-earned dollars for RE. There are a number of alternatives on the market, but Common Ground will likely come up short when compared to RE in terms of functionality. If you're interested in alternatives that offer sophisticated functionality for planned gifts, donor outreach, etc. check out our web site: www.MyAgilon.com [myagilon.com]

Re:Similiar situation (1)

judis217 (1811704) | more than 4 years ago | (#32209984)

Our nonprofit organization has been using Salesforce as our CRM since 2006, and Common Ground since last summer.

Two issues you raised... One, the reporting/query question. The canned reports in Common Ground are good starting points and they're ridiculously easy for even the most novice user to configure to an organization's own needs. Next month, Salesforce is rolling out significant improvements to their reporting/dashboard interface, and of course Common Ground users immediately enjoy that benefit. I don't know when you last looked at Common Ground/Salesforce, but if it was any longer than a couple of months ago, your information is probably out of date. We get updates from Salesforce 3 times a year, and then Convio is updating the nonprofit-specific functionality on top of that.

For example, Convio's last update to Common Ground included new direct market tools built on the Campaign object in Salesforce. This allows us to query the database and build segments of constituents in a way that just isn't possible with Salesforce out-of-the-box. Being able to build segments based on exclusion data, for starters. And also point and click easy for the end user. It's nice for the geeks reading this to have reporting tools that take a comp sci degree to use, even better when the tools are easy enough to use that program staff can do it themselves. From where I'm sitting, that saves the organization a lot of money. No one in our org has had to get on a plane to South Carolina to learn how to use our CRM and get the most out of its data.

Second issue is around resources/data load. That's the beauty of Common Ground. It's the Salesforce platform. Doesn't matter if you're doing an export from your dual, quad-core Xeon box or from my iMac. We routinely export tens of thousands of records. The GUI only displays 2,000 records in detail in its report (but you can display roll-up data on hundreds of thousands of records at once) and then you click a button to export the data to Excel, which takes maybe 30 seconds on a slow day. It's just downloading a file like any other. Crunching the export happens on the Salesforce side, not locally. Check out http://trust.salesforce.com/trust/status/ [salesforce.com] and how many transactions Salesforce deals with on a daily basis.

I do have to admit that complex joins in reporting are a challenge in Salesforce, and that's probably what you heard. It's really good on parent - child, and even parent - child - grandchild relationships. It can get dicey with cousins. But then if that's a deal breaker there are 3rd party reporting tools, some offered at discount to nonprofits, that bridge the gap. Pretty much anything that Salesforce/CG doesn't do there's an application that will help.

Re:Similiar situation (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#32210398)

Do you mind if I ask some questions about your organization?

What is your early budget?

How many users do you have on the system? What are the licensing and support costs?

About how many asks do you do per year?

How many constituents are in your database?

Re:Similiar situation (1)

judis217 (1811704) | more than 4 years ago | (#32211116)

Do you mind if I ask some questions about your organization?

What is your early budget?

How many users do you have on the system? What are the licensing and support costs?

About how many asks do you do per year?

How many constituents are in your database?

We're 5 years old and still growing. Currently, our organization has 7 staff members and our budget is under $1 million. About 20K in the CRM. One person administers the CRM (yours truly) and we try and avoid hiring outside consultants as much as we can help it.

Convio Common Ground is priced per user at $100/user/month. That includes all support costs (web, phone & email) for Common Ground and all updates. For much larger organizations, you would need to speak to Convio about pricing as I believe they do discount for larger purchases. The cost of the first 10 seats of Salesforce is donated by Salesforce, after that it's $360/year per user. Basic Salesforce support is included.

We do a handful of ask campaigns a year, now thanks to the segmenting tools in Common Ground we are planning to do more. In Common Ground we track individual donations made on our website (thanks to Convio's online tools that automatically sync with Common Ground), donations received through the mail, workplace giving pledges, corporate gifts, eCommerce transactions (we sell things like awareness pins & bracelets, t-shirts, etc.), event registrations and grants.

I know organizations 10x our size are using the same tools successfully, they only pay more for more users. Their volume may be higher than ours, but the process is still similar. They may also require more customization for functionality outside of Common Ground on the Salesforce platform.

check out techsoup.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32200994)

It has a community around non profits. You might get a different perspective from different types of people who use it.

Expense for small non-profit (1)

User0x45 (530857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201002)

Wow, $100/month/seat for a non-profit.

There is the reputation of Raiser's Edge being expensive, but it sounds like this growing
competitor Convio is up there too. How can a small non-profit put out that dough for a member
management software suite.

Manila folders might be more effective for very small non-profits.

Re:Expense for small non-profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32201324)

I work for a company called Greater Giving. We write software for Events and Fundraisers. We probably don't the same tool set as Raiser Edge in the CRM market but for around 600$/yr regardless the number of users you can use our Event Software Online. It has a fair amount of member management tools in it. There is a free demo. www.greatergiving.com

Re:Expense for small non-profit (2, Interesting)

billcopc (196330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32202884)

I don't think very small non-profits need much of a CRM to store their contacts. You can get a lot of mileage out of a cheap web host, Gmail and a spreadsheet.

The thing with non-profits, at least from what I've observed, is they eventually reach a tipping point where the management overhead starts growing out of proportion. You find yourself needing to hire more people, these ones are untrained and certainly not as devoted as the founders, they whine and moan about any repetitive work, so you compensate by upgrading your tech. That's where something like these commercial CRMs might start making sense; your options are :

1. pay a contractor to build it = expensive and poor support

2. hire a junior to build it = crap code and NO support when the kid leaves you for a better job halfway through the project

3. buy an off-the-shelf product that already satisfies a large portion of your needs, comes with documentation and even in-person training, and has has a support hotline for when you need it

People tend to think of non-profits as these angelic organisations that don't make money. Non-profit is just a different business model: same game, alternate rules. Just because you don't turn a profit doesn't mean everyone involved is broke. With all the tax breaks, subsidies and sponsors, even though the company itself doesn't make a profit, you can create a bunch of cushy jobs for everyone. I found a tiny bit of information at http://www.nonprofitstaffing.com/Salary-Surveys-(1).aspx [nonprofitstaffing.com] . Obviously the laws vary widely, but for the most part, non-profits are just business with no real stakeholders.

Re:Expense for small non-profit (2, Insightful)

ThePortlyPenguin (225165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203830)

Yeah, the money's why I took an 80% pay cut to work for a 501(c)3. And am loving it!

I agree with #3, though, as long as you include LAMP/Drupal/CiviCRM as a "off-the-shelf" product.

Re:Expense for small non-profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32206398)

Yeah, the money's why I took an 80% pay cut to work for a 501(c)3. And am loving it!

501c3 is usually a public charity, if you want to work for a tax exempt non-profit that still generates large amounts of revenue and can pay a good salary you want 501c4,6,7, or 8 (which includes most trade associations, the ones that lobby on behalf of entire industries).

Re:Expense for small non-profit (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32213082)

You mean like CiviCRM?
http://civicrm.org/ [civicrm.org]

There are a lot of not for profits. Some do have a good deal of money and pay their people very well.
Others are manned by dedicated people that work for a lot less than they could other places.
It really all depends.
I some how thing the NRA pays some it's workers really well.

Re:Expense for small non-profit (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 4 years ago | (#32204066)

I always like option 2 or option 2a) (instead of a junior you hire a full time developer).

Reason being that if you happen to hit the goldmine with regards to the developer, there is always the possibility to start selling the product(s) created.

I mean if you as a nonprofit seem to have a use for it, and the developer is good, it should be easy to go back and tidy up the code, take out some of the parts that are unique to your company, and sell the software package...

It also allows you to stagger the product you are selling (which you are basically selling to your competitors) so that your internal build is always a few features ahead of what is out on the market.

Id much rather have to deal with a employee who keeps asking for raises vs vendor lock in.

Re:Expense for small non-profit (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319060)

As a programmer, I'm going to stop you right there. What you speak of is noble, and might seem like common sense, but I don't expect a rockstar developer to be attracted to a non-profit org. Not unless your mission is to hit NVidia with a massive cluestick so he can buy GPUs that will actually run Crysis 2.

I obviously can't speak for everyone, but what motivates me is a combination of challenge and "coolness factor". I write code because I want to create something awesome, that I can be proud of and get oohs and aahs (and hisses) from my peers. That idealism is what drives innovation. Everyone else is just a "solutions developer", which is a fancy term for "duct tape programmer". Dime a dozen.

It's also never easy to take an internal app, generalize it, and sell it to others. For one, "tidying up the code" is never easy. In fact, in most cases it's a cost-prohibitive venture, something only to be done as a last resort. If your goal is to create a productized app, you need to plan for it from the very beginning, and corollary to that you need a developer that knows how to build resaleable code. That usually means adding a few extra layers of abstraction all over the place, significantly increasing development time and thus cost.

If you ever get to the point where you can sell the app, before you even turn a profit (revenue is not profit), you have to start worrying about support. Just because you know how to work it, doesn't mean that random idiot at that other NPO will have a clue. Remember, you spent an extra 35% to make this thing customizable. Before you can call it a success, you need to make that 35% back, in excess of support expenses. If the other guy's a complete imbecile, his problems are your problem. If that means you have to fly down and install it yourself, it's on your dime, because the dumb guy will say "This app is poorly documented" when what he really means is "I'm just here because no one else will employ me". His boss will take his word over yours, of course.

Then you've gone from running a lean, focused NPO, to running a full-blown software business on the side, with a team that is not experienced in that industry. I think for most people, that's more migraines than they're willing to endure "for a noble cause".

Re:Expense for small non-profit (1)

judis217 (1811704) | more than 4 years ago | (#32210524)

I don't think very small non-profits need much of a CRM to store their contacts. You can get a lot of mileage out of a cheap web host, Gmail and a spreadsheet.

I couldn't disagree with this more. Maybe true if all a nonprofit wants to do is store contacts. But even the smallest nonprofit should be able to see a 360 degree view of the people and organizations they interact with. Even the smallest nonprofit organization needs to make sure that everyone who should be thanked for a cash donation or for volunteering or for an in-kind donation is being thanked/acknowledged. Even the smallest nonprofit organization wants to track progress over time. It doesn't matter if it's tracking from 100 contacts to 500, 1,000 contacts to 5,000 or 100,000 to 500,000.

It's more efficient to start with a strong CRM like Salesforce/Common Ground and grow in to all its features than have a spreadsheet that can't scale. I want to tell our donors that we are spending their money on mission, not on building a system to redo what we didn't handle well when we first started out.

heh (3, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201018)

I work for a large non-profit. We use Peoplesoft with Goldmine and we are moving to Siebel for the donations/fund development systems I think. I'm out of that side now. Outside the US for our smaller offices we use home grown stuff.

I'm curious if there are too many people here with hands on with both these packages, it seems a pretty niche type thing to have worked with either. But maybe I'm wrong.

There's a desktop CRM solution - TntMPD [tntware.com] that has been extended out to support larger endeavors. It's Free as in Beer - not FOSS though. I use it, (I raise the funds that cover the cost of my employment myself) and I couldn't imagine life without it. So I thought I'd throw that out there for anyone that might be interested in the general topic. I wouldn't use if it for an organization system, but it works very nicely to extend data out to the people doing the actual fund development. We don't do central fund raising so we've got thousands of people doing that.

I wonder what it would take to tweak a FOSS solution to fit this need. It would be fun and just looking at the pricing on the two options you've linked, I would think it could be profitable to build and support it.

Re:heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32201252)

Ummm, wouldn't the free version of SugarCRM work for this?

Re:heh (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201894)

I would think it would make a good base to build on.

Re:heh (2, Informative)

ThePortlyPenguin (225165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203846)

I tried SugarCRM. It can do the job, but for non-profits it is a rough fit because the verbage isn't what the users are expecting. Right functionality, wrong language.

Re:heh (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#32205520)

That's why it would make a good project to fork and build into something designed for this use.

Re:heh (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201410)

Siebel eh? Hope you enjoy the upgrade treadmill or getting no support.

Re:heh (5, Interesting)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201428)

> I wonder what it would take to tweak a FOSS solution to fit this need.

Uh, yeah. Done. The FOSS answer to this is called CiviCRM. Works pretty well, but it's always a question of meeting organization needs to the tech solution -- YMMV. http://civicrm.org/aboutcivicrm [civicrm.org]

My org (nonprofit, ~1.5M annual budget, data creators) uses Salesforce.com, which is donated to us gratis by the Salesforce Foundation. Saelsforce.com is the shit. Common Ground is just a rebranded version of Salesforce.com, presumably because people in the social sector are opposed to both sales and force.

Re:heh (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32201472)

You're a fag. Go eat a dong and die.

Re:heh (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201880)

I understand that there isn't a great FOSS solution out there right now - but I think the pieces are out there to build one. That's all I'm saying.

Re:heh (2, Interesting)

daemonc (145175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32202386)

Just curious, but:

Have you looked at CiviCRM [civicrm.org] ?

If so, in what areas did you find to be lacking? What are your criteria for a "great" CRM solution?

Your needs may vary, but for our organization, Civi turned out to be superior to the commercial solutions available.

Re:heh (3, Interesting)

oatworm (969674) | more than 4 years ago | (#32202460)

Civi isn't bad, though it does have a few quirks. To start with, you're probably hosting it on a web server somewhere, which means rolling out either Joomla or Drupal to host it - this means you need someone and something that can handle that, which is only trivial on Slashdot forums. Also, credit card processing is a little wonky, especially if you use a semi-supported gateway (Auth.net recurring transactions, last I checked, weren't supported). That said, it's hard to argue about the price.

Re:heh (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#32205544)

It's been a while and like I said, I work for a larger org, so I didn't have to look at it too long to know it wasn't for us. I'd have to go back and check it out. But once someone is into the kind of software the original post mentions I think they are using a feature set that may go beyond what CiviCRM offers. I'm on the CiviCRM mailing list and keep watching them but to my knowledge there is still a certain point where there's a lack of good FOSS solutions.

To be fair, when I joined the organization I work for I was on the DBA team, taking care of an Oracle RAC environment on AIX for our Peoplesoft systems. I haven't done a lot of work with the smaller stuff - I'm used to things that are considered enterprise level.

Re:heh (3, Interesting)

ThePortlyPenguin (225165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203862)

We're in the process of moving to CiviCRM. Setup was somewhat harder than it should have been, mainly because it wants PHP 5.2, not 5.3, which most of the repos have already switched to. But after installation, it has been smooth sailing. And it's clearly capable of doing the job for us. It is REALLY well thought out for non-profit CRM or "partnership management". All the rough edges are smoothed away, too.

$6M budget, 250 personnel all over the world.

Re:heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32208984)

PortlyPenguin:

Would be great if you can post a case study on the CiviCRM Wiki:

http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRMDOC/Case+Studies

It really helps with marketing and gets other organizations to adopt it when they see their peers have done so

lobo

p.s> CiviCRM v3.2 does support PHP 5.3 (in E_DEPRECATED mode)

Similar position here (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32201074)

I'm a 11+ year admin of RE, and yes, while the system does have serious issues, and some areas can be downright frustrating to deal with, it is the best out there.

CivicCRM, an open source db solution is one thing that I've been looking at as an alternative, however just for the query building system in RE, there's nothing out there that I've seen that even comes close, excluding large Oracle systems.

Re:Similar position here (2, Interesting)

ThePortlyPenguin (225165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203874)

Civi's query builder is pretty smooth, as long as you are trying to do ANDs. It will only do relatively simple ORs. But it's got a simple, a complex, and a "Hey, I want to write the SQL myself" mode.

Raiser's edge?? But Hans didn't use a knife! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32201368)

*me ducks*

I can't really say I advocate the latter. (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201570)

Finding common ground, IMHO, is almost always preferable to stabby-slashy murder, no matter if your motive is profit or the welfare of man.

(Yes, I have karma to burn, someone had to write it, etc...)

Re:I can't really say I advocate the latter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32201624)

The jokes was already made 3 times before you posted. Way to be late to the party.

Re:I can't really say I advocate the latter. (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203602)

You can always click on 'Options' and then choose 'no karma bonus' (like I just did now).

DonorPerfect (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201676)

We are a larger small (in other words, not quite medium) nonprofit and are looking into switching from home-brew spreadsheets and databases to using DonorPerfect (online) http://www.donorperfect.com/ [donorperfect.com]

It is nice having these on-line services that require nothing to install and nothing to update. Plus, it works with Linux+Firefox, which is a must. We have so many projects going all the time, such offerings are very compelling.... as long as you have rock solid Internet (which we do- Cox Fiber). I will pass on info about Common Ground, also.

Small to Mid-sized Options (3, Informative)

rueger (210566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201796)

Maybe things have changed in the last few years, but the last time I checked the real problem was the lack of anything suitable for small - to mid-sized groups.

Raiser's Edge will surely do darned near anything, but you have to have both the budget and the dedicated staff to make it worthwhile. The average small non-profit lacks both of those resources.

What would be really wonderful is a small, easy to use but flexible system that creates easily exportable files structures.

Sadly the norm seems to be Filemaker hacks thats some well-intended volunteer created just before leaving town.

(We won't talk about inheriting ten years of fundraising data, each year in seperate file, with changing field names and data types, from seven different programs ranging between dBase, FM, Excel, and Word...)

(Or that the volunteer neglected to leave behind the admin password because he didn't want anyone messing with his masterpiece.)

Re:Small to Mid-sized Options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32204112)

For those in Australia, small to medium organisations check out www.memnet.com.au. It is a web-based hosted solution that covers AR, Subs and Mail-generation as its main points, is affordable and user-friendly.

In the interest of full disclosure I will mention that I work for NAQ Technology and MemNet is one of the products I sell, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

Coach outlet & Coach handbags & Coach purs (1)

chicken24 (1813160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32234168)

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Re:Small to Mid-sized Options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32353958)

I am new to this site, so this may not be kosher. Check out Matchmaker FundRaising Software. It was specifically designed for small to medium size nonprofits without the RE price tag. It is not cheap, but it is robust.

Raiser's Edge was a nightmare (1)

Mr.Ziggy (536666) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201918)

What do you call a MEDIUM size nonprofit? How many individual donations a year/people in the database?

For a while, from about 1999-2007, I was doing some IT consulting almost exclusively with nonprofits, and worked extensively with Raiser's Edge. Raiser's Edge is a deeply entrenched product in a unique niche marketplace. It always seemed like most of the big nonprofits used it in some fashion, and all the really small nonprofits just get along with a weird excel spreadsheet.

(It does seem like an organization could donate to money to start a serious FOSS CRM system for small to medium nonprofits... it's a huge need)

Raiser's Edge is a resource hog and it seemed like nobody at Blackbaud cared about helping to make things faster. Back in the Sybase database versions, nobody realized you could put different database files on different HD's to speed up queries. We also once had a hefty support contract and were down over 25 days because they wouldn't/couldn't fix the database... eventually we needed to Fedex them a copy of the database, which they Fedex'd to Sybase, Sybase back to Blackbaud, and Blackbaud back to us. I asked: I drive by the Sybase headquarters in Emeryville every day, can I just drop it off to make it faster? Answer: No.

Queries and exports can be super slow: put one in at 10am... check after lunch. Make some changes and check just before going home.

Raiser's seems to be the best alternative in a very small pool of candidates, and you're most likely to hire people who have experience with it.

check out CiviCRM (3, Informative)

daemonc (145175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32201964)

I'm currently in the process of helping a medium sized international NGO migrate from Salesforce to CiviCRM [civicrm.org] .

During our requirements analysis we found that:

  • Salesforce, while certainly powerful and flexible, is really designed with business users in mind, which leads to some ugly hacks when it comes to some basic things that non-profits need
  • For the features we were interested in, CiviCRM was on par with Raiser's Edge
  • CiviCRM came out ahead in online donation processing, ability to create custom web forms, and ease of use
  • CiviCRM is tightly integrated with the Drupal content management system, which we were already using for several websites
  • CiviCRM is Open Source, free of charge, and has great community and commercial support

Do yourself a favor, and give it a look.

Re:check out CiviCRM (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32202882)

You should also take a look at the latest 3.2 release of CiviCRM (currently in alpha), which has significant usability and performance enhancements.

Re:check out CiviCRM (2, Interesting)

rsborg (111459) | more than 4 years ago | (#32204060)

CiviCRM is Open Source, free of charge, and has great community and commercial support

This is critical. Inevitably, once your operation grows bigger than the "tiny" size, you will need the software to do something it does do (or does very poorly)... Having online support forums is very important, as is the source code.

As a donor, what I would like from non-profits... (4, Interesting)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32202066)

a) I gave you money unsolicited, for your cause. I only give when I can, and want to. Almost NEVER is it due to a solicitation or campaign.
b) Please don't send me unsolicited materials, you are wasting your (our) money and I resent that a portion of my donation is being churned back into solicitations and not the original purpose.
c) Don't sell my name to other charities. I know, it is a fund raiser (maybe?) but I will NOT respond to their solicitations. They are wasting their money sending me pleas...
d) Please remove my name from your list when I ask, (usually the "c" listers, but sometimes the "a" lister too!). If I go thru the trouble of asking to be removed, I will REALLY not EVER donate to that organization.
e) Just because the return address on my envelope doesn't match the address on the check I am still just one person. Please don't harvest this extra info into your database and SEND ME TWO of everything! What a double waste of money.
f) It would be nice if you sent the tax-deduction acknowledgment letter, but just once at the end of the year is fine.
BTW - I do check the efficacy [charitynavigator.org] of your charity before I give.

I don't mean to be dickish about this, but there are more good causes than I can support, so this is just part of how I chose which to give to.

In short, your CRM software should allow you to check the "hey this guy will give us money if we DON'T bug him" box.

Re:As a donor, what I would like from non-profits. (4, Insightful)

oatworm (969674) | more than 4 years ago | (#32202506)

Don't get me wrong - I agree with your take. Trouble is, they wouldn't do that sort of thing if it didn't work. The honest truth is that a lot of people donate sporadically or impulsively to non-profit organizations for various reasons (family member comes up to them for some fund-raising activity, usually). Consequently, the non-profit can send a notice to remind the person that, hey, they donated to the non-profit in the past - would they like to do it again? Most of the time, the answer is "no", but it's yes often enough where they more than make back any money they put into the campaign, and certainly make more net than they would've made if they sat around and waited for the occasional check to float through.

It's annoying, but it's life.

Re:As a donor, what I would like from non-profits. (2, Interesting)

swb (14022) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203068)

Is it true, as in backed by data taken from many non-profits and shown to be statistically valid, or is it one of those taken-for-granted truths that everyone THINKS is true, with just enough sporadic validation to make everyone believe it?

I get the odds when it comes to fund raising via mass-mailing -- blather about a good cause and mail enough envelopes and you might make a profit, get half-assed careful about your target audience (ie, no pro-gay mailings to rural Oklahoma, etc) and you are kind of guaranteed a profit.

But I wonder about one-time giving. We've given money to a few charities on a one-time basis before and its amazing the volume of crap you get, over time, without ever re-donating. Years later. I know the per-piece costs are lower than it might seem, but for a $25 donation I'd swear they've wrung a lot of the profit out two years later.

Re:As a donor, what I would like from non-profits. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32205290)

I work at a marketing agency with exclusively charity clients and I can confirm it is indeed statistically significant. The response rates are typically around 1% if just mailed to a targeted group of non-supporters (cold audience in charity marketing parlance) whereas the warm audience (current givers, people on your database) would normally achieve upwards of a 10% response rate. Considering a mailing costs something like $0.15 per piece you can see how, even with relatively small donations, it adds up to big profits.

As a volunteer, what I would like from donors. (2, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32202560)

When you fill out information, please make it legible. Especially your creatively spelled name. Data entry is a bitch, and sometimes we just make our best guess, knowing we most likely got it wrong.

Your complaint (e) is right on the mark. There were some supporters who had no less than 5 separate entries in the database. Every time they sent a check or came to event, apparently they were re-entered. Being a Senate campaign, apparently they didn't think it was worth the trouble of eliminating duplicates, and besides, it made it look like there were more supporters than there really were.

As far as (b), we tended to add everyone who gave an email address to the email list unless they specifically opted out. If we've got your email address, it is much cheaper for us to email you rather than pay postage.

I also sympathize with (a). My fraternity volunteered to help out with a telethon. Came to find out the job they gave us was to punish all the people who had donated the previous year by calling them up and asking them to donate again this year! I called a few people, but felt like too much of a dick, so I sandbagged it for the rest of the evening.

Re:As a volunteer, what I would like from donors. (4, Informative)

ThePortlyPenguin (225165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203896)

CiviCRM is smart enough to catch the obvious double-entries and prompt, "Hey, there's this dude over here with a similar name and address already. Do you want to create a brand new record, or just merge changes with the existing one?"

Re:As a volunteer, what I would like from donors. (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32208158)

I believe we were using CiviCRM. I did a search for similar names before adding each new name. I don't recall ever getting that prompt, but I might just have avoided it by doing a manual search first (we were using the web browser interface.) I have no complaints about CiviCRM; the duplicates were due to poorly trained and poorly organized volunteers doing the work.

Re:As a donor, what I would like from non-profits. (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203622)

a) I gave you money unsolicited, for your cause. I only give when I can, and want to. Almost NEVER is it due to a solicitation or campaign.
b) Please don't send me unsolicited materials, you are wasting your (our) money and I resent that a portion of my donation is being churned back into solicitations and not the original purpose.

You realize that the reason they do these campaigns is that they work, right? That charities actually raise funds from the tactics that you don't want your donation going towards?

If you don't want charities doing this, then you have to convince their other supporters not to support them via these means, because otherwise it's the only way they can survive.

And donating money doesn't give you a say in the organization, any more than giving someone ten bucks entitles you to tell them how to spend it. If you want to be part of a decision-making process, join the organization or buy shares in a company.

Re:As a donor, what I would like from non-profits. (1)

awilden (110846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32207370)

BTW - I do check the efficacy [charitynavigator.org] of your charity before I give.

I think it's a great idea for people to check out their charities carefully before donating. Unfortunately, there are a few wasteful and even corrupt charities out there. However, if you're using charity navigator, make sure you read their fine print [charitynavigator.org] : at present they only catalog 4500 charities, only organizations with about $500k private donations each year, only organizations with budgets of $1M+ per year. This is not meant to say anything bad about charity navigator; they are offering a tremendous service that is greatly needed. But when you search for an organization and it's not there, it could be that they're just too small to be on their map.

When I donate, I look for the organizations that seem to get the most work done with the least overhead and who can benefit the most from smaller donations from non-rich people like me. That almost always comes out being the small grassroots organizations that were formed up because individual community members decided to take things in their own hands (mostly because the nat'l orgs or nat'l gov't weren't doing their job). They have very small staff (under 20, often under 5), and budgets that are impossibly tiny to even cover their payroll.

These organizations will never make charity navigator's list. So, like with all tools, make sure you know what charity navigator does and doesn't do. And if you want to really want to change things, donate to groups that are too small to be on that list.

Re:As a donor, what I would like from non-profits. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32209952)

I had to create a form letter that says A-E above and send it to a couple charities (yes, I am speaking to you Feeding America!). I will add F. I switched to give everything in December since some were doing the 10-month-year thing like magazines e.g. "time for your renewal in May" when I gave in July last year. grrr

You mean Reiser's edge? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32202254)

Just murder your wife and try to hide the body ineptly. No problem. Enjoy the jail time.

Other optionss (1)

sharkman67 (548107) | more than 4 years ago | (#32202346)

I have been using Sage's Fundrasing 100 for the last 8 years. It is a decent product. However Sage is killing it off and hopefully migrating their customer base to their Millennium product. So far I'm not thrilled with Millennium but they are making changes to it to accommodate the functionality that FR100 users are accustom to. Something to look at as an option.

Another option is to look at GiftWorks. It is a good program for small to medium nonproftis. If you are on the large side of mediums it may not work well for you.

no, not GiftWorks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32203066)

I'm employed by a nonprofit that's using GiftWorks for volunteer time management. It's full of bugs, tech support never has answers, and names just get lost in the queries. It's cheap and not worth even free. It's a startup by the Chilisoft leftovers, the buyout that Sun killed.

We (I) bought Paradigm back in 1999, it is, was, a wonderful system with stellar support. Then JSI sold it to Best Software, publishers of Best100 and Millenium. Best Software ran the code base into the ground then tried to migrate to Best50, which was trash. We hung tight with Paradigm. Best Software makes Raiser's Edge look desirable.

Nonprofit software sucks right now. DonorPerfect is probably the most usable of a bad bunch.

GiftWorks blech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32206580)

I second the downer on Giftworks. Tech support is run by first level screeners, there's been so much turnover second level no longer exists. The query function with its SmartLists is junk, you never find what your need. We have our donors subsetted into a half a dozen frequencies ie once a year at Thxgvg, twice a year for a raffle, 5 times a year for a regular donor, a few every month. Whether or not they volunteer, don't want gaming stuff, etc. This level of sophistication is completely out of GW league, or at least of their tech support and trainers.

I liked the Campaign Associates package, cheap, fast, reliable, great for queries and mail mergers. The Raiser's Edge publisher bought it out, not to improve it as an entry level package, but to kill of the competition for RE.

Yes, nonprofit software sucks royally. We're looking at DonorPerfect, mebbe.

Raiser's Edge ain't the only big player... (1)

Jupiter Jones (584946) | more than 4 years ago | (#32202716)

I work for a very large non-profit. We use an older version Sungard/BSR Advance, with a bunch of specially-made front-ends, third-party reporting tools, etc., all hitting the Oracle back end directly. Most of us barely touch the actual client.

That said, the client isn't too bad. And the product certainly supports just about anything you'd want to throw at it. Of course, if you're dumping Raiser's Edge due to expense, Advance would probably not be the way to go.

Have you looked at Tessitura? It's especially nice if you're in the arts or any other type of non-profit that does ticketing.

JJ

Re:Raiser's Edge ain't the only big player... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32204220)

Have you looked at Tessitura? It's especially nice if you're in the arts or any other type of non-profit that does ticketing.

Ha, ha, ha... oh, wait you were series. Yikes.

iWave (1)

fuel37 (842729) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203452)

Check out http://www.iwave.com/ [iwave.com] . We use it and sugarcrm. iWave is great for researching lots of different things and sugar crm community version is free.

different approach (2, Interesting)

AmBirkieboy (964718) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203690)

I've been in IT for quite some time now and work for a large nonprofit in the upper midwest that recently moved to common ground/salesforce from a traditional client server solution. In addition to Common Ground I also have access to and work with Raiser's Edge.

The fact of the matter is that people, not software per se, generally determines the effectiveness of whatever solution is applied to the challenge of tracking people, transactions, and the many types of relationships nonprofits need to mange.

Consequently, instead of tossing the proverbial note in a bottle on slashdot and seeing what comes back you should be polling your users, your IT staff, and those that do or can understand what your organization is both capable and incapable of using, supporting, and growing.

Next, organize it, prioritize it, and cost it.

You will find that what you need from a nonprofit-centric crm is unexpected, hard to document, and not easily matched with any one tool on the market. But at least by taking the above approach it is your requirements, and not vendor brochures or the emotive proclamations in this thread (present company included), that will drive your selection process.

For my organization with IN PARTICULAR the common ground/salesforce platform works well. You have different needs, most certainly, and what works for us may not work for you.

Good luck!

Re:different approach (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 4 years ago | (#32208860)

I'll second this. If you're asking *anybody* but your users, and whoever pays for it, and in that order, about which software to use, you're doing it wrong.

Re:different approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32209392)

I also agree with this.

The charity that I worked for used RE very efficiently, and I do a lot of consulting on Blackbaud, Convio, etc.

The fact is, many of these programs are highly dependent on a) what specific tasks you will be doing and; b) how you configure them. The best database could be hamstrung by the worst implementation. It takes more than the initial software purchase to make these things work properly - but when they do, it's a beautiful thing.

CiviCRM's the answer. (2, Interesting)

ThePortlyPenguin (225165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32203966)

I'm IT Director for a nonprofit 501(c)3 with $6M budget and 250 people scattered around the world, plus probably that many more heavily involved volunteers.

We tried SugarCRM and it works well for CRM, but isn't non-profit specific, so it doesn't "speak the language". That made it very complicated for non-techies and non-sales people to use.

GoldMine was a small disaster that I pulled the plug on before it became a large disaster.

Raiser's Edge does everything, but is way out of our price range. It is also a pure Microsoft solution, which would be a bummer for our Mac & Linux folks.

We currently are using eTapestry. It does a fine job and is web-based, but it was bought by BlackBaud (Raiser's Edge) who have a long history of buying competitors and killing them off. And while far cheaper than Raiser's Edge, it isn't exactly cheap.

So we're currently in beta for rolling out CiviCRM. CiviCRM is a LAMP/Drupal web-based application. Installation is a little bit of a pain, mainly because the repos have all upgraded to PHP 5.3, but it still wants PHP 5.2. If you have LAMP skills, do it yourself, or if not then just pay one of the plethora of CiviCRM consultants to do it for you; it'll still be loads cheaper than Raiser's Edge.

Once it's installed, it's a dream. Easy to customize. Easy to do data entry, either onesie-twosie, or mass entry. I was able to import a CDF from eTap quickly and easily. Great searching, great duplicate checking. It supports every payment gateway imaginable. And all the little rough edges are smoothed away. This is a product which clearly is well-designed and well-built.

Stop throwing away your money, and just try it. But don't short-change yourself with a cheap little shared hosting job. Colo a box in a datacenter someplace to run this.

donor.com is enterprise fundraising software (1)

alphzim4353 (1564857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32204110)

*and* owned by a foundation. Advanced query, hundreds of reports, web, inventory, APIs, win/mac/linux, way less money: worth checking out.

multiple currencies are a MAJOR PITA (1)

peaceful_bill (661382) | more than 4 years ago | (#32205082)

Hey.

We are using another blackbaud product, financial edge. We have 2 different currencies, and the database isn't designed for this. massive choke. You actually have to instantiate a new database and keep them synced with each other.

Samaritan Technologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32205682)

Have you considered some of the solutions offered by Samaritan Technologies? Here's a link to their site [samaritan.com]
They're pricy, but they have completely customizable solutions and offer more value per dollar than Raiser's Edge, Common Ground, etc.
We've used several of these other providers, and Samaritan's solutions pretty well blow the others we've used out of the water.
Having some small experience with them, I'm happy thus far. They provide services for mostly government, parks, corporate and disaster relief volunteer management but they say they can adapt their solutions to any situation. We're pretty small potatoes compared to some of their other clients (I've met a few of their clients at expos, I think their larger clients include the USMC and the USO).

Well, dang (1)

Benfea (1365845) | more than 4 years ago | (#32207150)

I'm so glad our small non-profit doesn't rely on donations for funding. Yeesh.

Grace Donation Manager (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32207792)

Anyone checked out the Grace Donation Manager (http://code.google.com/p/gracedm/ [google.com] ) for this sort of thing?

Chanel outlet & Chanel handbags & Chanel p (0, Offtopic)

chicken24 (1813160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32234138)

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Database selection (1)

marc73 (58740) | more than 4 years ago | (#32243666)

There is a ton of research to help you decide what to do here. The first place I'd look is Idealware - Here's a link to their Low Cost Donor Management Systems Report: http://idealware.org/reports/consumers-guide-low-cost-donor-management-systems [idealware.org] .

It also has a very handy selection process, which you should follow when choosing ANY system of this type. Download the FREE report - it's worth it.

Marc

NTEN Surveys show CiviCRM is preferred (1)

JoeMurray (1814496) | more than 4 years ago | (#32258454)

NTEN (the Non-profit Technology Network folks) did a 2007 CRM satisfaction survey (http://www.nten.org/research/2007_crm) and a 2009 Data Ecosystem survey (http://www.nten.org/blog/2010/02/09/nten-data-ecosystem-report-now-available). CiviCRM was best ranked in the first, and best ranked for orgs 500k in the second, beating out other offerings including Salesforce, Blackbaud, Convio and so on. Well worth the small investment in becoming an NTEN member, but I think the reports are available for purchase to non-members.
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