Making a Business case for a new CRM

Getting buy-in from trustees and colleagues can be difficult when it comes to selecting a new CRM. Everyone needs to be on the same page, and in some cases, you aren’t even reading from the same book. The best way to understand others’ needs and to appeal to them is by putting yourself in their position.


Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a good understanding of what you and your other stakeholders need. Now is the time to make a solid case for it. First and foremost, you must stick to your objectives. It may sound obvious, but this is easily overlooked once you’re down into the detail of software functionality! In this infographic, we explore the three main challenges when it comes to investing in technology: Data migration, managing cost and achieving buy-in from your board.


Infographic teaser



Staying laser-focused on your non-profit’s mission is the best way to keep the interest of your senior colleagues and trustees. Think about your key stakeholders and what’s in it for them. What do they stand to gain from a new CRM solution? What about your trustees? What are their drivers and objectives? With any new purchase, the return on investment (ROI) will rightly be scrutinised. In order to keep your project on track, you’ll need to be able to effectively answer any questions that your CEO, trustees and others will have regarding the value of your new investment.


A good vendor will take you through a fully consultative sales process and help you demonstrate how the solution achieves a positive ROI for your organisation. At this point, you should be asking for references to build a clear picture of how the potential technology partner has helped non-profits that are similar to yours.



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Commission on the Donor Experience


2015 was a year of challenges for the sector, with charities being branded as ‘vultures’ and ‘immoral’ by some sections of the mainstream media. So the charity sector banded together to create the Commission on the Donor Experience with one goal in mind, making meaningful changes to the way that fundraisers work with donors, and create an improved experience for them. The aim of the Commission is to support the transformation of fundraising into a donor-first approach.


The Commission states that donors should be placed at the heart of fundraising. After all, without the generosity of committed donors, where would we be? As an impartial initiative, the Commission is helping this to happen by training and equipping fundraisers to deliver the best practical donor experience.


Split into 28 working groups, the focus is on bringing fundraisers and donors together to make the donor experience better. Blackbaud is thrilled to be a partner and has supported the Commission from the get-go.


Blackbaud has invested in supporting the Commission because we agree that fundraising needs to put donors at the heart of fundraising. As a leading partner of non-profits and a company that is genuinely invested in the success of the sector, Blackbaud will continue to support the initiative throughout.


Recently, the Commission released its beta findings, which give free insight to the 28 areas of fundraising. The community forum encompasses the hard work from all of the Commission’s projects, and rest assured, they have been scrutinised by the most experience of fundraisers to give you accurate, actionable advice.


The recommendations come from some amazing fundraisers; hundreds of people who have contributed to the Commission; people who work for charities and who understand what it takes to make an extraordinary donor experience.


Now, the Commission is broadening its request for feedback. It wants to hear from individuals across the sector ahead of the main launch at IoF Convetion, so take a look now and let them know what you think.

GDPR + Technology + Data = Mission Success

by Dan Keyworth, Director for Customer Engagement – Education and Foundations
Blackbaud (International Markets Group)

GDPR, recent ICO fines, the Fundraising Regulator and the Fundraising Preference Service have collectively focused the attention of the non-profit community on compliance – to an extent not seen before.  The purpose is clear: organisations must respect the ownership that individuals have over their own data.  At the same time, it is essential that institutions can champion advancement and tie this information processing closely to their missions.


Technology and data play a key role as enablers of great relationships, by helping us to understand, to excite, to ask and to steward.  This becomes even more relevant in the GDPR world.  You understandably need to review your CRM databases and digital technology solutions to ensure you comply, and any changes inevitably involve work for the back-office.

The changing regulatory landscape is also creating lots of noise, some of it contradictory.  To deliver a joined-up approach, Blackbaud is channelling its efforts into providing detailed, informed guidance in conjunction with CASE and other partners, through initiatives such as CASE’s GDPR technology workstream.

Recent introspection across the sector has prompted more of us to explain why our profession does what it does and how it supports the fulfilment of institutions’ missions.  This self-analysis, though time-consuming, will serve us well in the future. And the impact that advancement can have over the coming decades remains truly inspiring.


Opt-In, Opt-Out

Institutions’ priorities, their audiences and their paths along the advancement journey are diverse. So there is a need for our technology, and the data it holds, to be flexible enough to underpin a range of different approaches around opt -in and -out.

Alongside consent, it looks likely that legitimate interests (and performance of public tasks) will remain a strong ground for institutions processing personal data.  Of course, this doesn’t diminish the importance of adhering to existing opt-in obligations under ePrivacy regulation for channels such as email and SMS.

Where legitimate interests are the legal basis, then it is still imperative that technology solutions help make it clear to individuals how their data is processed, and how they can opt-out of specific communications or activities.  And for those who do pursue unambiguous opt-in consent, then we need to help make that journey successful.

In both cases, technology should ease the collecting or updating of alumni and supporters’ preferences, be that online, by post, verbally or via any other means.  Recording such preferences and understanding changes over time should also be intuitive.  Critically, technology should empower you to best utilise those preferences, not just to comply, but to deliver progressively relevant, personalised and engaging communications that reflect each person’s interests and passions, and help you serve your mission.


Three key aspects of good data management

Beyond consent and preference management, three further factors hold true for all CASE members, for which technology should play a role:

  • To manage data effectively, we must share and adhere to clear and transparent Privacy Notices, covering each aspect of how data is processed. And, as part of that, saying not just what you do, but why you do it – and how this helps transform lives for individuals, communities and societies.
  • Leadership teams must be part of this conversation: not only to be accountable for complying with the GDPR, but to understand sufficiently – if they don’t already – the mechanics of successful development and alumni relations and how that contributes to the vision.
  • At any time, anyone can request to see a copy of the data held about them. Whilst providing this may occasionally surprise, if you feel comfortable with how you would explain that data to them, then you are a step forward.


Balancing risk vs outcomes

Ultimately, a balanced approach is key.  Whether the least risky course of action is to collect consent is a decision for each institution to make.  Such an assessment requires not only reviewing options for delivering compliance but also the impact of any changes on the ability of your advancement function to support your mission.  No course of action is entirely risk-free.  By analogy, one way to avoid food poisoning is to never eat anything, but that is not optimal!

Philanthropy is a wonderful thing.  The SDGs ultimately find many of their answers in the outputs of educational institutions, and regulation is not intended to stifle the amazing outcomes which CASE members serve.  Rather, it is aimed at driving the balanced protection of individuals and their data alongside your mission and delivering a better supporter experience overall.

It is yet to be seen whether change will centre around this aim.  Technology enables security of data by design, and that is crucial and necessary.  However, it can do far more.


GDPR presents new opportunities

This is a unique opportunity for the sector to revisit goals, and maximise the collective benefits for institutions, alumni and supporters.  It is vital to articulate precisely how and why you are contacting alumni, researching prospects, engaging volunteers, inviting guests to events, and more.  Being able to effectively tell this story and demonstrate impact will help you to reach greater fundraising goals and embed lifelong donor and alumni relationships.

We see alumni partnerships becoming increasingly central to institutional priorities, spurred by advancement.  Alongside funding, alumni can enhance recruitment, social mobility, employability, industry and cultural engagement, research application, lifelong learning, governance, advocacy and – perhaps above all – boost reputations via word of mouth.  Alumni are your largest constituency and best global ambassadors.

Likewise, we increasingly see the supporter experience touching all parts of institutions, aided by coordination.  Philanthropy helps many students and staff members today, stirring new conversations and opportunities across campuses, through academics and other staff, within departments and colleges, and via volunteers beyond your walls.  Backed by systems, your development office can be the conductor of this orchestra – ensuring the right notes are played and the experience augmented for everyone.

As the recent Ross-CASE survey showed, quality of relationships matter.  Despite fewer alumni donors, overall giving to UK universities surpassed £1bn for the first time.  There are mutual benefits to segmenting who you are contacting, based on why you are contacting them.  Here, at least in the long-term, the GDPR and institutions’ missions can align: a careful, targeted and focused approach to engagement, underpinned by CRM, will enable achieving your goals whilst minimising the unwanted contact that any individual receives.


What you can expect from Blackbaud

When it comes to clearly understanding what we do with data, the regulatory landscape has undoubtedly raised the bar for Blackbaud and our customers alike.  Your planning and execution needs to be crystal-clear organisationally, and the same is true for us.

At the end of June, we will publish our consent and preference management roadmap for the rest of 2017, detailing new feature development tailored to enable you to capture and evidence preferences and accommodate other data subject rights in accordance with the GDPR, FPS (where applicable) and ePrivacy regulation.  Blackbaud product webinars in July will provide greater detail, and we will also publish companion information to CASE guidance, setting out how Blackbaud solutions can help you towards technology, data management and wider recommendations.

We recognise that advanced preparation for the GDPR is critical for operational continuity, and more broadly to thrive in support of your missions in the future advancement landscape, and all new features and solutions will be available in time to prepare for compliance.

The CASE Regulatory and Compliance Conference on 14 June and the subsequent guidance will be a great launchpad to support institutions along this journey, and Blackbaud is proud to be part of that.  We will continue working closely with CASE Europe and other partners over the coming weeks and months to accompany you through the changing landscape and beyond.

Visit our GDPR hub for all Blackbaud updates on GDPR and FPS, including solution guides, videos and blogs.


Is My Data Safe – 5 Questions Your Charity Needs to Ask

  • Data security is important – being mindful of risks and mitigations can save you stress time and money
  • If you have responsibility for safeguarding other people’s data, security should be your number one priority – even if that makes your job harder to do. Being data secure is not complex, but for those with stressful jobs and limited time, it can feel like an onerous responsibility. We all have moments when the easiest way to complete a task is less data secure, so keep in mind these simple rules around data security.
    • If it feels wrong, if you have any doubts, don’t do it
    • Shortcuts are usually responsible for poor security, they will come back to bite you!
    • Don’t let other people pressure you into being less secure – take responsibility
    • Don’t let the prevailing culture of an organisation lull you into thinking insecure practices (see below for examples) are acceptable
    • Do be confident and vocal about the precautions you take and encourage others to do the same.


You can ask yourself the following questions:


How strong is my password?

Automated attempts to breach security often focus on cracking users passwords

  • Passphrases are better than passwords – easy to remember and more secure
  • Never share your password
  • Never leave a password on a laptop or PC
  • Check password strength here:

You could be surprised at the results!

  • Don’t re-use the same password for multiple resources
  • Never, ever use obvious passwords, such as variations of the word “Password” such as “P@ssword”, “P@ssw0rd” etc
  • Try as much as possible not to save passwords in your browser


Is my data backed up?

  • Ask yourself what would happen if my device was lost, stolen, compromised or was suddenly broken beyond repair
  • Important data should be backed up regularly to an external device or drive
  • Make sure you are aware how long it would take to recover your data in case of a disaster, so you can plan accordingly
  • Cloud storage can provide an ideal backup solution and can be a better way to store your data in the first place, meaning there is minimal risk of loss due to compromised local devices.


Is my software up to date?

  • Out of date software and frameworks are vulnerable to attack
  • Always ensure your machines are set to take the latest updates immediately
  • Never use software (such as XP) that is out of support to store or process data
  • Ensure you have up to date anti-virus and anti-malware programs on all of your devices, scheduled to scan regularly

There are many brilliant free solutions – see here:


Do I know my data?

Your data will not all be sensitive, and will not all be subject to the restrictions imposed by the data protection act. If you are not sure what constitutes personal or sensitive data you should check here:

  • Always be aware when data you are using or storing falls under these definitions
  • If you’re not sure, check!
  • Minimise sharing or using personal data as much as possible
  • Avoid retaining personal or sensitive data that is of no use to you, but could be to someone with nefarious intent
  • Obfuscate personal data when using for anything other than it’s intended purpose – ie testing or troubleshooting


Where is my data?

We are often required to share our own data and data we are responsible for with others as part of our work. Such data sharing presents a risk to data security and should only be done if absolutely justified, and you should always ensure you have the authority to do so.

When you share data:

  • Sensitive or identifying data should be obfuscated unless it is absolutely required
  • Files should be encrypted and password protected for transfer, here’s a guide to getting started:
  • Never send passwords or keys for encrypted files in the same or subsequent emails
  • Share as little as possible and always be aware where your data is going, be certain of the identity of the party receiving shared data.
  • Printed copies of identifying data should be destroyed securely after use


Is my data encrypted?

Modern tools and software freely available make it easy to encrypt your data to prevent it falling into the wrong hands. If your laptop or PC is likely to have sensitive data on it, you should consider taking advantage of these.  Such solutions will prevent a disaster the next time you leave your laptop on a bus, or have your premises burgled.

  • Windows users should consider using Microsoft’s built-in solution bit locker which offers the user the choice of full machine encryption, or encryption for a specific drive which can be used to store sensitive data
  • Apple’s OS X operating system has a similar facility called file vault.
  • Other programs are available for more selective encryption that are useful for transferring files and sharing sensitive data. See here:

How To Use a Consultant When Selecting A CRM

By Collette Langley, Business Development Executive, Blackbaud Europe


As a member of a sales team, I work closely with a wide range of IT and Fundraising consultants. When I know a good consultant has been involved in workshopping a non-profit’s requirements or helping in the selection and implementation process, I’m relieved.  To me, it means that the organisation is committed to action, that they have spent some time thinking about what they want to achieve and that they are taking the process seriously.


Investing resource in an external consultant drives an organisation to take the sometimes-daunting first step on the journey of achieving their goals through new technology.


I can also say with confidence that the best consultants know a great deal.  They have been allowed on the inside of a lot of boardrooms; they see all sides of the process; they are in on every conversation and their experience is invaluable to us all.


Benefits of using a consultant:

  • Milestones: Helping you set timescales and sticking to them; not just in the project implementation but also in the selection process itself.  The selection process often overruns, and it’s rarely because the supplier isn’t keen enough! For example, we often work with organisations who don’t have a desired go-live date. It’s a bit like working with someone who doesn’t have financial constraints – sounds great, but in reality, it means the selection process isn’t following any rules, project plan, or selection criteria and things can – and will – overrun.


  • Budget: A consultant is great in helping you define an appropriate budget for your project.  Many organisations will put a call into a number of suppliers to get a feeling for a budget.  But there are so many variables to consider and making sure you’re comparing apples with apples isn’t as easy as you think at first glance.


  • Insight: We are all biased in our opinions. We all think we know what we want out of a system.  But a consultant provides an outsider’s view. A fresh pair of knowledgeable eyes to assimilate your goals and prioritise your requirements, which can bring great benefits.


However, one note of caution. You as the non-profit must remain strong and in control. The wrong consultant, or a lack of direction from you, can muddy the waters, eg. by introducing suppliers that aren’t a good fit, just to make up the numbers or allow comparisons to be made.  This (in my opinion) often happens when an organisation isn’t confident in making a decision.  You may already have a supplier in mind who is a good fit for you, but rather than do due diligence yourself, you introduce a consultant to take you through a process of supplier selection which just leads back to the original supplier.  I recognise this also happens because you may have procurement rules which mean you have to see at least three suppliers and there are merits in this (arse-covering is one!), but you need to be clear why you’re doing it, and remain open to other possibilities the consultant presents.


As with most things in life, communication is key.  There is nothing more disconcerting in my working life than getting one answer from the customer and another from the consultant.  You need to be honest with your consultant and communicate continuously with them throughout the process.  Let’s be honest, when something goes wrong in a project the consultant is the first one to cop it!  All fingers point to them, they were the ones who made the suggestions and guided the decision, it’s easy to blame them and people do (on both sides). It’s a tough job, but both we and you can make it easier and ultimately lead you to making the right technology choice for your organisation.

9 Things to Look for When Evaluating a Grant Proposal

Ensuring that your foundation makes impactful grants to the right non-profit partners starts with a thorough proposal evaluation. A proposal should include more than just the organisation’s mission statement and program description.


To help you better evaluate submissions so that you are set up for success, here are nine items you should look for in any grant proposal:


  • Organisation Background & Experience: Has this organisation run similar programs in the past—similar budgets, focus area, geography? Does their previous experience set them up for success with this new program?


  • The financial health of your organisation: Make sure you take a look at the non-profit’s financial records and ensure that there are no red flags that could indicate this may be an unwise investment.


  • Program Partners: If the non-profit will be working with other partners (whether non-profit, academic, government, even other grantmakers), are these partners experienced in this type of program? Are they subject matter experts or invested in the target community? What specific roles will the partners play, and how will their activities be tracked? If there aren’t other partners, are you comfortable that the one organisation can fully implement the program on its own?


  • Program Description: This should be more than a few sentences with high-level goals. The proposal should include a detailed description of how the program will be executed, how exactly the pieces fit together to achieve the desired outcome, and of the different phases involved in implementing and running the program. Which leads us to number 5…


  • Program Timeline: Of course, even the best-laid plans are subject to change, but the proposal should include a general timeline of when the various parts of the program will be executed, how the program will ultimately come together. This timeline should serve to help you, as the grantmaker, to monitor the progress of the grant and ensure it’s on track with hitting various milestones.


  • Measurement Plan: Has an appropriate plan been laid out to monitor and measure the program outcomes? If appropriate for the grant size, is an experienced independent evaluator involved to administer the outcomes measurement plan? Or if being implemented internally, do the staff tasked with tracking results have the appropriate knowledge and experience to accurately do so?


  • Sustainability Plan: Has the organisation specified a plan to obtain continued funding and/or an ability to self-sustain the program after the grant period has ended? In other words, is the non-profit already thinking about what happens after this grant?


  • Communications Plan: Does the proposal outline an appropriate communications plan as part of the overall program, to promote awareness and gain buy-in from the target population? And separately, does the proposal outline how the organisation will publicise the program, share learnings at conferences and in publications, etc.?


  • Detailed Budget: Does the proposal include a detailed line-item budget? Does the line-item budget include reasonable costs (meaning neither inflated nor underestimated) for personnel and program-related expenses? A detailed budget enables you to be a good steward of your foundation’s grant funds.


In my experience as a former corporate grantmaker, if a grant proposal includes satisfactory responses to these nine elements, that’s a good indicator that the organisation has carefully thought the project through and will be a great grantee partner. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and have a two-way conversation about the application responses—some of my most successful grants resulted from working together to refine the proposal by sharing experience based on past learnings. And make sure that you have the right technology in place that allows you to easily ask for and collect this information in applications. A clear, easy-to-use application form will help set you and your partners up for success from the very beginning.

How to Make Your Mission Heard by the Masses


Advocacy is a way to showcase your organisation’s mission while solving a problem at the same time. With a plan and resources, you can arm your biggest supporters with the tools they need to be stewards for your cause.

But how do you create an advocacy program that actually works? Read our 6 Key Takeaways and start sharing your mission today.


Key Takeaways for Creating Your Own Advocacy Program

  • Identify: What is it that you want your supporters to help spread the word about? This could be anything from helping raise money for a new program, to showcasing a new exhibit.
  • Inform: It’s important that your advocates have all the facts. Those are going to be their strongest weapon. Prepare them with material that outlines the issue and provide any facts and figures.
  • Social: Create a social campaign and draft posts with relevant hashtags that people can easily share with their own networks.
  • Top of Mind: Create a one-pager that outlines your mission, the cause being advocated for, and how others can help.
  • Give Thanks: Without your supporters, sharing your mission can only go so far. It’s with their passion that the word spreads about causes that are important to your organization—and to them. Make sure they know you appreciate everything they do to help advance your cause.


Advocacy in action

If you’ve never had an advocacy program at your organisation, here are a few pointers from the event that you can use as inspiration.

Let’s say you’re a cultural organisation, and want to build advocacy for the institution you support – whether that’s a museum, gallery, theatre or leisure facility. You might want to prepare materials that empower your supporters.


Provide your supporters with:

  • Briefs that outline key issues, such as the economic and social impacts of your organisation. Identify your key concerns so your supporters can spread the word.
  • Snapshots of your fundraising figures, campaigns and initiatives. Inform your supporters about the acitvity your undertaking, and the success it’s having.
  • Tips for speaking with new prospective supporters and institutions. Help your advocates spread your message by writing role play scenarios.
  • Provide highlight packs about the impact your institution has on communities, both locally and further afield. Keep your institution top of your supporter’s minds.


How to make your Alumni and Fundraising System part of your Development Team

Using technology and data to enhance your advancement programmes is vital but can initially seem overwhelming. Here are 5 practical ways that you can effectively harness technology that you have at your disposal.


  1. Building a reliable repository of data

    1. Think of your alumni and fundraising system as your colleague who never leaves – your institutional knowledge that isn’t stuck in people’s heads.
    2. It should be safe, secure, robust – and must be easily accessible and queryable, so you can interrogate it for insights.



  1. Grant access beyond the development team

    1. When you can, empower more colleagues to be able to review and improve the data this allows you to gain better information.  To do this you need an easy-to-use, intuitive interface and role-based experience so that you can restrict more sensitive data appropriately.
    2. Take active steps to consolidate spreadsheets and other information into this single system – so you gain a 360° view of your alumni, parents and donors.
    3. Ensure that you have access when on the road – this improves efficiency, removes deadlines and ensures face-to-face meetings are effective.
    4. Harness the power of peer-to-peer networks.  You have alumni and parents who want to help; empower them to fundraise on your behalf.



  1. Driving processes

    1. Your system allows you to effectively control your pipeline of donor meetings and proposals, so you never miss a task or an opportunity.
    2. It also helps you manage events, volunteers and communications – enabling you to test and learn what works best, for example whether a monthly newsletter has a better response rate than a one-off email.
    3. It delivers you step-by-step workflows based on best (and even next) practices.



  1. Automating processes

    1. Wherever possible, schedule data flows, imports, exports and other global changes
    2. Systematise your data quality checks to ensure you’re improving your data continually.  Query lists are a great friend for this!
    3. Use the technology to deliver online giving, events, profile updates, preferences etc – better for all concerned.  Join up your CRM to payments, so the process is optimal both for your alumni and for you.



  1. Providing insight and answers

    1. The right system pushes data to you – so you know where to focus time.
    2. It can also provide built-in analytics – up-to-date with changing circumstances.
    3. Increasingly we need to focus on metrics and outcomes – whether that’s for fundraising, engagement or demonstrating impact.


Your Alumni and Fundraising System has the potential to be the most important member of your Development Team, and one who can grow in responsibility and effectiveness as you grow over time.  So, be open to embracing technology and data as they can be one of your greatest enablers to supporter engagement.

Benefits to Tracking Outcomes

Tracking outcomes can offer an array of benefits, from improving your reports to driving collaboration between funders and grantees.

One additional benefit is improved decision-making. By tracking outcomes and indicators using an automated process and aggregating the data in one place, organisations are able to spend less time on ad-hoc data collection and analysis and more time on important decisions that drive operational effectiveness. With the power of knowledge derived from measuring outcomes, funders are able to make better decisions about projects and organisations to fund.


Outcomes = Opportunity

In our ongoing dialogue with thousands of members of the giving community, we’ve heard from hundreds of foundations that are either measuring outcomes or want to measure outcomes. And what do they want? Sure, they want to use outcomes to measure performance, but they also want to know which organisations can benefit from added capacity to achieve their shared social mission. Having a shared understanding of intended outcomes from the beginning of the grant, and tracking progress toward those outcomes, allows foundations to evaluate where their grantee partners need extra help. Depending on the programmatic area, we estimate that 20 to 40 percent of all foundation funding is in the service of expanding a well-intended non-profit’s capacity to change the world and make it a better place.


Transparent Outcomes, Improved Funding

There’s another benefit not necessarily associated with the improved transparency an organisation gains measuring, tracking and reporting on outcomes: improved funding. Philanthropists are looking for effective stewards of their social investment. The ability to better articulate the work, by both funder and grantee partner, ensures these new champions of philanthropy can be confident of the return on investment, in the form of specific and measurable impact. Indeed, through our extensive market research, we know of benefactors that will immediately increase funding if outcomes are established early on in the grant application process.


Additional Benefits for Corporate Philanthropists

All foundations and their non-profit partners can benefit from measuring, tracking and reporting on outcomes. But corporations can realise an additional benefit not available to foundations: that of commercial success.


Corporations can benefit in the areas of employee retention and customer loyalty, both of which have potentially advantageous effects.


Skillfully broadcasting your well-defined corporate philanthropic efforts across the organisation helps to boost employee engagement and pride. “Well defined” is important here; specificity matters. Employees are much more excited by statements like “Our corporation provided funding that resulted in 100 third-graders improving their reading achievement by two grade levels in 2015” rather than “We gave £100,000 to our local public school system.” The power of specificity triggers added pride in the organisation, which can lead to increased employee retention, especially amongst Millennials.


As we continue on our shared outcomes journey, we will uncover and share more about the key ways various philanthropists and their non-profit partners benefit not only from the crisp measuring, tracking and reporting of outcomes to stakeholders, but the ways in which their organisation’s effectiveness is improved. The fun is just beginning!

The Art of Impact

View and download the presentations here.


On March 1st, Blackbaud hosted the latest in its ‘The Art of…’ series of evening thought leadership events. ‘The Art of Impact’ was a fascinating evening focused on demonstrating impact and outcomes as a non-profit organisation. The audience of non-profit leaders heard talks from two experts, followed by a lively Q&A.
The speakers:
Matt Stevenson-Dodd has been CEO of Street League since 2010. He’s committed to total transparency in reporting the charities successes – and where they could have done better.
David Hounsell is Head of Impact at fundraising consultancy Aleron, and was formerly Evidence and Impact Director at The Children’s Society.
Here are are some of the highlights from our speakers’ talks:


1) The charity sector is brilliant at storytelling, but…

…many charities could tell their stories more powerfully. A good story needs a good ending – an outcome if you will – and it should be the tangible, real-life impact. Take Kids Company as an (overused) example. A charity that boasted a CEO so full of life she seemed like a fictional character; a charity which spread positive messages through powerful PR and high-profile relationships. But the ignominious collapse and lack of real results hit on an important point in the sector. Sure, we can all spin a story, but when the hard questions are being asked do we have the answers? Or as Warren Buffet once said, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been swimming naked.”

2) Is spreading the good news the same thing as spreading the right news?

Charities are quick to come to the conclusion that, for example, they have helped 80% of the people who went through Progamme X, or that over 1,000 16-25 year-olds were positively impacted by their work in the last 12 months. But what about the missing numbers? It’s great to share the positive stories we have, but can we really rebuild trust with the public by acting like all we do is good; that there is never anyone left behind? Street League took a seriously bold step with their last Annual Report, deciding to lead with their shortcomings. Instead of focussing on the hundreds of people they had placed into full-time employment, they led with the 109 people that they couldn’t help this past year. Admittedly, the board was nervous leading with this but agreed it was the right thing to do. Matt explained the consensus that “As a charity, it’s important to be open and honest, show the public that you can improve, and most importantly that you are trying to improve.”

3) ‘Outcomes to Impact’ is a journey

David advised the group to be under no illusions that the transition from storytelling to measuring impact is a long journey. But it’s something the private sector does well, continually reaping the benefits of being able to show their impact effectively; the stock market being an obvious example. This kind of thinking would be a significant change in mindset. At The Children’s Society, David was told it would be five years before he saw any real impact. He pointed out that this is what will scare some charities off – why invest valuable money, time and effort into leading a huge shift in mindset and processes to wait five years to see the results – particularly in the current media climate.
Matt gave us his own case study of this journey, at Street League. He explained that being able to show your impact is an ever-changing process, from measuring participation as ‘impact’ to moving onto measuring tangible outcomes. This was the real turning point for Street League, after which they were able to say with utter confidence that they had helped a specific number of people.
– Compare: “14,000 people were helped by Street League over three years, with:
– “14,000 people entered a Street League programme, of whom 11,000 completed the course, 6,000 went on to have a job for six months or longer, and 1,000 were unaccounted for.”
How much more compelling, transparent and – frankly – honest is that?
After ‘Outcomes’, naturally, comes ‘Impact’. This is when Street League really homed-in on who they were helping, to drive better decision making:
1) By researching various socio-economic factors across the UK they came up with measurements. For example, they applied different measurements of success to someone who stays in a job for three months as compared to someone still employed after 12.
2) Second was Big Data, already a buzzword in the jargon dictionary, but something that all non-profits need to harness. Big Data is often misunderstood, but it simply means being able to gather the data that you have and learn from the picture it presents. For example, a charity who focusses on youth unemployment may look at data from the region where they work, and learn whether unemployment has got better or worse. And from that, decide whether it is the right thing to continue to focus effort in that location.
After their talks, David and Matt led a Q&A during which the floor opened up to a discussion. One line from Matt really stood out: “If we as a sector want to see a real change in mindsets and being able to show our impact, we should invest as much money into our measurement teams as we do with our finance teams.” This provoked some debate of course, but the underlying point is a challenge to the whole sector. We aren’t holding impact in the same degree of importance as revenue. It’s all well-and-good to increase revenue by X% for the three years running – but has that actually made any difference?

Retention vs. Acquisition: What the Data Shows About Overall Donor Engagement

When asked by organisations whether their online fundraising programs should focus on donor acquisition or donor retention, I say, “Yes.”

As fundraisers, we don’t have the option of choosing; we must solicit from existing donors while simultaneously growing prospect lists and converting new leads into first-time donors.

Yet time and resources are limited, so from a strategic, data-driven perspective, we have to prioritise where our efforts should lie. We can see from the 2016 Luminate Online Benchmark Report that non-profits are having success in both areas, but that between the two, efforts are skewed toward donor retention.

  • As a whole, the value of an e-mail address is £10.68, down 7% from last year’s £11.49. While a disconcerting drop, this number alone doesn’t speak to retention vs. acquisition efforts. For greater clarity, we must examine the differences and change in giving between first-time donors and repeat donors.
  • Total online revenue from first-time donors in the 2016 report was just about even, down 1%, at £165,586. This made up just over a third (35.92%) of total online giving, which was a decline of 6% from last year. As one might expect, revenue from repeat donors went the opposite direction: up 8% as a total, and up 3% as a share of total online giving.

So we know that repeat donors are giving more dollars, as a subset of donors, than first-time donors, and donate about 2/3 of an organisation’s overall total. But it gets even more interesting when looking at average gift amounts.

  • The average transaction amount for a first-time gift was £84.81. The average transaction amount from a repeat giver is lower, at £76.30. So how can repeat donors have a lower average gift than first-timers but still have a higher total revenue amount? Sustainers. The total transaction amount from sustainers was up 14% compared to the 2015 report, and their share of total online fundraising (11.26%) was up 10%.
  • Overall, total online revenue in the 2016 report was up just under 5% from the previous year. So we see that sustaining revenue was up a larger percentage than overall online revenue, and revenue from repeat donors up was likewise up more, percentage-wise, than overall revenue.

So what does that tell us about donor retention vs. donor acquisition?

It might possibly leave us with a chicken and egg. What is behind the growth in repeat donor revenue and the drop in first-time donor gifts as a share of total revenue? Are nonprofits being more aggressive with renewing lapsed donors, or engaging in more sustaining giving campaigns? Probably both.

But let’s look at two more numbers that are indicative of the overall online engagement picture.

  • Housefile growth was 10%, which is a lower growth rate than years’ past; at the same time, the percentage of constituents on a house-file who are donors was slightly up, to about 14.1%. So a lower rate of house file growth, a smaller percentage of first-time donor revenue of the composite total…yet an increase in the percent of e-mail addresses who give.

It seems clear that it is getting more challenging to bring in new names, and getting these new names to donate. The trends speak to nonprofits doing a better job at renewing donors, taking advantage of the longer-term relationships with existing donors (increases in fundraising appeal open and click-through rates suggest this as well).

Moving forward, it behooves organisations, as they continue to grapple with the donor retention vs. donor acquisition challenge, to better understand the make-up of their own file base. After reviewing the Luminate Benchmark Report data, these are the questions I’d ask of your own organisation:

  • What percent of your file are donors?
  • Last year, how many made their first online gift, and how many renewed a gift from the previous year?
  • Last year, who gave more both in total and average gift, existing donors or first-time donors?
  • Of those who joined your file last year, what percent gave?

Once you answer these questions, you can compare your performance to the benchmarks (both overall and to your specific vertical). More importantly, you’ll then be better equipped to properly allocate time, resources and effort in terms of renewing donors and seeking out new ones. If the rate of growing your list continues to slow, it will become more imperative to properly steward and nurture the constituents you’ve already got.

6 Trends That Will Impact the Charity Sector in 2017

We’re just a few weeks in and already 2017 is shaping up to be a roller coaster of a year.

With the constant changes, innovations, and breaking news impacting the sector, staying focused on the work that matters will be key for all of us. To help us navigate, Blackbaud leaders and industry experts came together to weigh in on what’s coming for the sector and what’s needed to best steer our work through 2017 and beyond.

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An open letter to the FPS

By John Bird, Managing Director of Blackbaud Europe.


As a provider of fundraising CRM software specifically for the not for profit sector, Blackbaud Europe has specifically technical concerns regarding the workability of the FPS proposal. This is a summary of the key points we raised with George Kidd, Chair of the FPS working group.

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Data Protection Reform – What it means for you

GDPR, DPA, FPS, ICO… confused?

Over the last two years, enquiries, reviews, a media frenzy around over-communicating, a new fundraising regulatory body and a perceived public mistrust of the sector all mean that the next two years will see significant changes that affect us all.

Organisations close to the centre like Blackbaud are well placed to support and inform you every step of the way.

Take 3 minutes and digest our handy guide to what’s going on:


The key bodies, laws and acronyms to be aware of:

  • Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 – EU law
  • Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) 2003 – EU law
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018 – EU law
  • Information Commissioners Office (ICO) – UK regulator responsible for interpreting and enforcing GDPR
  • Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) – now replaced by Fundraising Regulator
  • Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) – now replaced by Fundraising Regulator
  • The Fundraising Regulator (FR)



General Data Protection Regulation

An EU law passed by Council of the European Union on 27th April 2016.

What is it?

Replaces the DPA (1998) and PECR (2003)

Who is impacted?

All organisations that process personal data. It affects both non-profit and for-profit organisations, big and small.


What about Brexit?

Brexit will not change the UK’s compliance requirements.  Any negotiations as we leave the EU will include equivalency with EU law on data protection.



GDPR “enters into application” (becomes active law) on May 25th 2018. For the UK, the ICO will release its interpretation of the law in November 2016. Unlike a European Directive, GDPR is a Regulation that does not require any enabling legislation to be passed by national governments.


What’s changed from the Data Protection Act 1998?

Some of the key differences to be aware of are:

  • Increased enforcement powers:g. maximum fines of up to €20 million or 4% of total annual worldwide turnover of the preceding year (whichever is higher).
  • Extended geographical scope: non-EU businesses will be subject to the regulation if they provide their service to EU organisations, or monitor the behaviour of EU residents.
  • Consent: More rigorous criteria will be applied to obtaining individuals’ consent: it must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. E.g. fundraising consent may not be valid if it is given when grouped with non-fundraising matters.
  • Opt-in: Crucially, where consent is involved, non-profits must gain explicit, ‘opt-in’ consent. (See below.)
  • Profiling: Individuals will have the right to object to profiling, which includes most forms of online tracking and wealth screening.
  • The right to be forgotten: Individuals will have the right to request that an organisation delete all their personal data.


Opt-In, instead of Opt-Out

This is one of the most significant changes: data can only be legally ‘held and used’ if a person has actively and positively opted in. Consent under the GDPR requires some form of “clear affirmative action”.

  • Silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity does not constitute consent.
  • Consent must be verifiable. This means that some form of record must be kept of how and when consent was given.
  • Individuals have a right to withdraw consent at any time.
  • Explicit permission to contact through different channels, e.g. phone / text / email/ post.
  • The consent must be “informed consent”.

Note that the ICO’s November interpretation of GDPR will give us all greater clarity around ‘legitimate interest’ – i.e. do we need to get a supporter’s opt-in consent if we have a legitimate interest to market to them? This was allowed under DPA – it’s not so clear now.


Fundraising Regulator and Fundraising Preference Service

Following Sir Stuart Etherington’s 2015 review into the self-regulation of charities, he made two key recommendations to Parliament:

  1. One single regulator should replace IOF Guidelines + PFRA + FRSB: ‘The Fundraising Regulator’

Chair: Lord Michael Grade

CEO: Stephen Dunmore (interim)

  1. There should be a fundraising equivalent to the Mail Preference Service (MPS) and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS): the ‘Fundraising Preference Service’ (FPS).


The Fundraising Regulator

What is it?

  • New, voluntary and independent regulator
  • Set fundraising practice code for UK
  • Charity-funded (48 of the largest charities)
  • Responsible for fundraising preference service
  • Investigates donor complaints

Who is impacted?

  • UK non-profits


  • Active immediately – the Fundraising Regulator came into being on 7th July 2016.


Fundraising Preference Service

What is it?

  • An ‘opt-out’ mechanism that will be introduced in the first half of 2017, to address donor frustration over how and when they are solicited
  • Allow individuals a “complete opt-out from receipt of future specified fundraising communications” from a single place – the so-called “large red button”.
  • Also allow individuals to opt-out of fundraising selectively, by registering with FPS but exempting specified organisations of their choosing.
  • The FPS works in conjunction with the TPS and MPS. It “should not be seen as some form of over-ride to the TPS and MPS”. Charities must “respect the preferences expressed by individuals under these schemes”.
  • An individual’s registration with the FPS is for two years, and will lapse if not renewed.
  • A charity with a pre-existing relationship with an individual who registers with the FPS will be permitted to contact them once within 28 days of their registration to confirm the individuals’ intent was to exclude them.

Who is impacted?

  • UK non-profits
  • Due to necessary operational costs of adhering to the FPS, it has been deemed “necessary to initially limit the scope of the FPS” as regards the size of organisation to which is applies. The threshold has not yet been set, though is expected to be organisations whose expenditure on direct marketing exceeds £100,000 per year.


  • Due to launch in the first half of 2017

Quotes taken from the Fundraising Regulator’s final report, issued September 2016.


Remember the Upcoming key dates:

  • November 2016: ICO to release its interpretation of GPDR. (ICO is the regulator, they interpret the GDPR and have the power to audit and fine organisations.)
  • 2017: Launch of FPS (exact date TBC, but likely to be before June.)
  • May 2018: GDPR becomes law


We’ll be keeping our Data Protection Form page updated whenever new information is released.




While the information provided above is reliable, it does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.

The Secrets of Data Driven Non-Profits

Steve Maclaughlin, a No. 1 Amazon Bestseller, gives us an exclusive overview of his book Data Driven Non-Profits. Join us for a special 1 hour pre-recorded webinar in which we uncover:

  • How to unlock the secrets in your data and drive success
  • The unique qualities of the world’s most successful Non-Profits
  • What we can learn by taking a data-first approach
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Arts Industry – Why get a fundraising CRM?

Constituent Relationship Management systems (CRMs) are vital to all non-profit organisations. They help you segment your data, allow you to see your ‘star’ donors and surface opportunities that you never knew existed. That’s why it’s imperative to choose the right CRM for you. At Blackbaud, we hear of many charities in the Arts and Cultural space who are not making full use of their existing CRMs or who are just ‘getting by’. With that in mind, let’s delve into the compelling reasons to invest in a fundraising CRM.

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Practical Considerations as a Small Charity Thinking about CRM

As a small charity considering investing in new software, you have conflicting priorities. You’ll likely have a smaller budget to work with, but still need to deliver on your mission and meet the expectations of your board.  Meeting all these criteria is sometimes very difficult and so many organisations find solutions that fit certain requirements like cost, but with that end up sacrificing quality and service.

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[1/2] From Manual to Automatic: Efficiency vs Efficacy

“The real barrier to automating processes is human, not technological.”


As a CRM and business consultant, I love the difficult problems. With one project I was working on, the client’s customer service team was overloaded with incoming phone calls from supporters with queries, detail changes and new regular gifts and donations. This, of course, resulted in long waiting times, lost calls, lost donations and unhappy donors.

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Email Testing: Four Simple Steps

Are you testing your email messages (subject lines, time and day of send, etc.)? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to improve your results.


Email has a unique advantage over direct mail. You can immediately see what worked and adjust your message on-the-fly, if necessary. And while you may have a hunch about the best day or time to send email, testing validates (or disproves) your theory. It really allows you to make data-driven decisions.

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4 Actionable Steps to Make SEO Oh So Easy

Digital technology is increasingly playing a key role in engaging donors, and in 2015, around 7.1% of overall fundraising revenue came from online giving—with a 9.2% growth over 2014. And in the arts and culture nonprofit space, digital fundraising saw a 8.3% increase year over year.

With digital fundraising trends on the rise each year, your online presence is more important than ever.

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3 Easy Ways to Amplify Your Welcome Series for New Supporters

By Maureen Wallbeoff – VP of Firefly Partners. She provides a people-focused, collaborative influence to all things Firefly.

Last month we wrote about the 3 steps to creating a Welcome Series to effectively on-board new constituents to your organization. Today in part two, we’ll focus on ways you can kick it up a notch! So you have a welcome series—that’s great. You’re already one step ahead of many other nonprofits. But a one-size fits all welcome series may be leaving out some powerful opportunities to engage. For most organizations, new constituents come in all shapes and sizes. They enter your database from multiple engagement pathways and have wide-ranging experiences (or no experience at all) with your organization.

In a world of Amazon and Google, constituents have come to expect a tailored online experience.

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Managing a Volunteer Programme

The Community Life Survey tells us that 29% of adults in England said that they had formally volunteered at least once a month in the previous year, and 44% said that they had volunteered at least once in that year. If applied across the UK, this equates to 15.2 million people volunteering at least once a month.  Volunteers come from a range of backgrounds and lifestyles; they will bring different benefits to your charity and will have different needs.

Volunteers are amazing people who bring new skill sets, life experience, energy and perspective to an organisation.  Since they give an irreplaceable gift of time, it is only fair to plan a programme of exciting and meaningful projects for them. 

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3 Reasons You’re About to Love Outcomes Measurement

By Michelle DiSabato

As a corporate funder turned consultant, I’ve spent the last decade helping funders make the shift from philanthropy to social, or impact investing.

What is impact investing?

Impact investing means more than simply “doing good.” It means investing with purpose to achieve specific, measurable outcomes and impact. In the impact investing model, when we give to a cause, we should see specific and measureable return in the form of social change.

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Six super simple segmentation secrets

By Michele Stender

Have you ever been shopping and run across a piece of clothing that reads “One Size Fits All”? My first reaction is always: false! Specifically when it comes to hats—my head is definitely larger than “all” (Believe me – I’ve tried).  Or have you ever tried to replicate a celebrity hairstyle? I have. Apparently what works for Jennifer Aniston doesn’t quite work for me.

There is rarely an appropriate case for a “one size fits all” approach. We’re all different. We don’t fit into a specific mould. And neither do your donors. 

Remember that when you go to send an email to your entire housefile.

Today, emails are pouring into our inboxes at a rapid pace and most marketers are trying to think of the next clever subject line or incentive to get the best click through and open rates as possible.  And while beautiful content and copy are definitely important, segmenting your donors is key to the success of your overall strategy.

New to segmentation? The worst thing you can do is not segment your audience. How can you do simple segmentation today to build better rapport, reduce unsubscribes, boost response rates and, my personal favourite, create a more engaged supporter?

Below I’ve created subject lines for 6 of the most common segments in your database:

1. Welcome to #teamawesome.

The new donor or potential donor. They just gave their first gift or they showed interest by signing up for your newsletter, so be thoughtful with your follow-up! Engage them with a welcome series—let them know how their support will have impact, tell them where their donation is going, share updates about what’s coming up, and ask them about what matters to them and how they want to make a difference. Your new donor or prospect might just turn into your next major or recurring giver, if you put in the right amount of TLC.

2. We know… You’ve been waiting all year for this.

This is for your yearly gift-giver who has yet to give this year. Let’s hope it’s on their “to do” list, but a little gentle reminder never hurt anyone. Something like “Hey, we appreciate what you do for us every year—we’ve done some incredible things together, haven’t we? We want to keep doing incredible things with you. Your support this year matters to us as much as ever. Will you help us?”

3. Your support is major to our mission.

Your major donor! Don’t lose them by sending blanketed communications. It’s crucial that you truly understand them as individuals: What matters to them and why did they decide to give your organisation? Make them feel special by recognising and acknowledging the impact they’ve helped you create.

4. Thanks for being a superhero every single month.

Recurring donors are some of your most loyal supporters. They have committed to giving to your organisation on a regular basis and deserve updates on how their support is advancing your mission. Consider something like a video newsletter that gives them updates on what’s happening, how you’ve made a difference, and what’s next.

5. We want you back.

For the lapsed donor. Get them back on track by reminding them of the need. Remind them why they gave to you in the first place. Your organisation has been doing some cool stuff and you need their support. Hit them with a compelling story that will draw them in again. Demonstrate to them what would be possible with their support.

6. We get it – it’s time to leave. But was it something we said? 

For your non-opener, this is a sensitive subject. If someone hasn’t opened your email in the past year, they probably won’t open one any time soon. I wonder what would happen if they thought you weren’t going to send them an email any longer.

Obviously, these subject lines are for fun and I don’t actually recommend you using them. But I do think sometimes a little fun may peak interest and intrigue your donors to open, read, and give more. So start segmenting and thinking of clever subject lines (they matter A LOT) to engage your different audience more efficiently!

PIVOTS! Year on Year Income Comparisons Using Pivot Reports

“No other tool in Excel gives you the flexibility and analytical power of a pivot table”

The above quote is from Bill Jelen (aka Mr. Excel). For those of you who happen to use Raiser’s Edge 7.94 or 7.95, you may have noticed that Pivot Reports have changed to offer support for the full Excel pivot report – but maybe you’re not sure what that means to you.

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What have you done with my money?

When was the last time you contacted your donors and specifically informed them of how their donation has helped your cause or been put to great use? No doubt you’ll have some heart-warming examples that showcase how successful fundraising has made a difference to an individual, family or a community’s life? Please share this with your donors at least once a year, more if you can, they’re just dying to hear – why wouldn’t they? You are the stewards of their donated hard-earned cash.

Prepare the story by setting the scene

How dire was the situation? What was it that led your organisation to be involved in the case? Get quotes from individuals involved and pictures to really help set the scene, particularly if there’s a great after-shot to go with it.

Your organisation’s involvement

Who? When? Where? Why? Was it all because of one person or a group of people? Allow individuals or these groups to shine when telling the story.

The outcome

The success story. The part that will touch the hearts of your donors and lead to them being proud to be involved in your organisation. The story may well be passed on by word of mouth when chatting with peers.

Remember, be concise.  Don’t ramble on and switch donors off reading it before they even start.


Tell them that continual donations make this work possible. You want to give them the opportunity to give again or give beyond their usual regular contribution and a reason for doing so!
If you able to answer the question ‘What have you done with my money?’ you’ll be able to retain and grow your base rather than see them slip away.