A successful nonprofit relies on comprehensive, powerful donor database software. A good relationship with your software can lead to a deeper understanding of your donors, better fundraising results, and more accurate data analysis—and that’s only the beginning!
The Raiser’s Edge software series by Blackbaud has been considered by some to be a leader in nonprofit data management. Most recently, the company has launched the new and improved Raiser’s Edge NXT, a fundraising and donor management system designed to make all aspects of fundraising more effective and more streamlined—though there are some caveats!
While NXT does sound impressive on paper, it’s important to remember that it’s not a miracle solution or a magic match for every nonprofit.
Here, we’ll go over some of the basics of this software and let you in on what to actually expect if you make the switch from Raiser’s Edge 7 to NXT.
We’ll look at 3 main questions:
- What is Raiser’s Edge NXT?
- What’s changed from Raiser’s Edge 7?
- What considerations should you make as you evaluate solutions?
Ready to find out if this is really the software you’re looking for? Read on!
What Is Raiser’s Edge NXT?
Raiser’s Edge NXT (often abbreviated to RE NXT) is the newest fundraising software offering from nonprofit-focused tech company Blackbaud.
Its own independent product, NXT is not an upgrade from their previous software generation, Raiser’s Edge 7. If you’ve been using RE 7 and want to take advantage of the new features of NXT, you’ll have to purchase the new software in its entirety.
That being said, the software does currently rely on RE 7 to operate fully, so you’ll need to retain that program until NXT becomes truly self-reliant.
Like its RE predecessors, NXT can easily be integrated with the entire family of Blackbaud products. You won’t be able to integrate this product with outside CRMs or fundraising software, though.
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that NXT is designed with specific fundraising staff in mind (chiefly, major gift and development officers). Though NXT does offer a more comprehensive view than previous Raiser’s Edge generations, all of NXT’s features are solely intended to further your fundraising, without offering support in other areas of your organization.
If you’re looking for a CRM that’s a bit more adaptable across your organization, Blackbaud does have other products (or you could look elsewhere).
Bottom Line: Raiser’s Edge NXT is Blackbaud’s latest product in their long line of fundraising software. Though it’s an improvement from other RE generations, NXT still lacks some of the robust, flexible functionality of a more comprehensive CRM.
What’s Changed From Raiser’s Edge 7?
The biggest difference between previous RE generations and NXT is the new cloud-based NXT web view format.
Essentially, NXT gives fundraisers front-end access to existing fundraising data through a new web-based interface. As part of web view, NXT introduces “work centers” that allow fundraisers to view and organize lists of constituents alongside their relationships, gifts, and other information, all in one central location.
Because this format is completely cloud-based, web view allows you to access your data from any device at any time. In order to log in to your account, all you’ll need is an Internet connection and access to Blackbaud’s website.
However, it’s important to note that web view does not replace the traditional desktop interface of past Raiser’s Edge platforms. In fact, to access all components of this software, you’ll still need the classic “database view” in addition to the new centralized cloud-based work center.
These applications serve different purposes and are intended for use by different members of your team. For example, while web view is designed to make data management more manageable for fundraisers, database view’s data tracking and reporting tools will still be useful tools for your data processors and financial analysts.
While NXT is being advertised as Blackbaud’s solution to database management on the go, much of the software still relies on the same technology found in the traditional Raiser’s Edge database view. Work centers and web view are a start, but the Raiser’s Edge series has a long way to go before becoming completely cloud-based!
However, NXT is trying to improve upon previous shortcomings and presents a host of new features to accommodate some of Raiser’s Edge 7’s known weaknesses. Some of these adjustments include:
- Improved interface and usability
- Unlimited user capacity
- Role-based interactions for fundraisers, executives, administrators, and more
- Enhanced data security
- Improved customer support, including instant chat and user community access
- Branded donation forms
- Ability to send mass emails directly from database view
Bottom Line: NXT’s main improvement—centralized, cloud-based technology—still leaves much to be desired. Web view enables partial online access that gives some of your team more accessible work centers, but other staff might still be relying on the outdated RE 7 technology.
What Considerations Should You Make as You Evaluate Solutions?
Raiser’s Edge has a history of providing functional fundraising and donor management software to nonprofit organizations, but there are still some considerations you and your team should keep in mind if you’re thinking about switching to their newest software.
Specifically, we’ll look at the following:
Without a doubt, the Blackbaud family of products can supply your organization with a wide variety of donor management tools. However, that expansive functionality comes with a high price tag compared to other nonprofit donor management solutions.
Blackbaud employs a fully customizable subscription-based pricing model for most of their products, including Raiser’s Edge. The more records your databases houses, the higher your price will be.
Furthermore, NXT’s price is dependent upon the features you choose to include in your purchase. For the most all-inclusive software package (with features intended for large nonprofits with complex needs), the price will be a significant jump from a more limited version.
According to Idealware & NTEN Consumer’s Guide to Donor Management Systems, RE NXT can cost your organization tens of thousands of dollars per year, with up to $10,000 in up-front fees. Consider all costs involved with the initial purchase, licensing, migration, update costs, training, and implementation before making a purchasing decision.
One of the most significant NXT features advertised by Blackbaud is the hassle-free setup and data transfer process — if you’re an existing Raiser’s Edge 7 user.
If you’ve ever tried to move your data from one CRM to another, you know that this process can be intensive at best and exhausting at worst. However, if you’re moving your data from Raiser’s Edge 7 to your new NXT system, Blackbaud promises there will be no conversion or syncing setup required.
This short setup is mostly due to the fact that NXT employs the RE 7 functionality through its “database view” (which is essentially the same system you’ve been using).
However, there is an account setup process you should be aware of.
Although the NXT web view is primarily cloud-based, the software does require the use of a client, Citrix, in order to access your data. When you set up your software, you’ll also need to set up a separate Citrix account (likely with the help of your administrator).
If you choose to forgo this step, you’ll still have access to your classic database view, but you’ll miss out on NXT’s headlining feature, its new cloud-capable web view.
Not all fundraising software is created equal. Likewise, not all nonprofits have the same needs and goals! As such, it can’t be overstated that your organization has to find the product that’s the right fit for where you are now, as well as one that can accommodate you as you grow.
The Raiser’s Edge series is known for its extensive list of available features and fundraising tools. If you’re a large organization with complex needs and a staff that can handle intensive product training, the payoff of having these features may be worth the initial effort.
However, if you’re a smaller or mid-sized organization, you may not need such an overwhelming array of features. And, you may not have the resources (money, time, and effort) to become fully trained on all the tools.
Although NXT does feature a much more user-friendly design than its predecessors, there’s still a learning curve to this software. To take full advantage of the scope of its capability, you’ll need to be trained by Blackbaud’s team of training consultants. (However, this service will cost you.)
Before you buy such an expansive set of fundraising services, consider what tools your organization already uses on a regular basis. What features would make your fundraising goals easier to achieve? Are there tools that you presently have access to but never use?
Be realistic. Especially for smaller organizations, there’s no reason to over-complicate or waste money on features that don’t offer any real benefits to your fundraising.
Bottom Line: Before making the move to NXT, consider if it’s really the right product for you. The high price, extensive setup process, and expansive feature set may be worthwhile for some nonprofits, but only you can decide if it’s the right choice for your fundraising team.
Purchasing new fundraising software is a big move. Before you start shopping around, consider what features you need to make your organization run more smoothly (and to raise more funds), as well as your budget and long-term goals.
Whether you’re a large organization that relies on a multitude of data management tools or have never used a CRM before, we’ve got products that can help you manage your data effectively at every stage. Why wait? Let’s get started today!