How Nonprofits Can Enhance Blackbaud Data with Microsoft Tools - Heller Consulting

How Nonprofits Can Enhance Blackbaud Data with Microsoft Tools

If your nonprofit using Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT as your fundraising CRM, you have a powerful tool to manage your donor relationships and fundraising campaigns. But did you know that you can also leverage Microsoft’s cloud-based tools to enhance your data management, analysis, and marketing? In this blog post, we will share some of the insights and tips we presented at the 2024 AFP Icon conference, where we showcased how Microsoft Power Platform, Power BI, and Customer Insights can help you supercharge your Blackbaud system.

The challenges and opportunities of data management for nonprofits

Data is the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization. It helps you understand your constituents, measure your impact, and optimize your strategies. However, data management can also be a challenge for many nonprofits. Some of the common pain points include:

  • Lack of collaboration and data silos across departments
  • Data duplication and inconsistency
  • Poor constituent experience and engagement
  • Missed opportunities for data-driven decision making and AI initiatives
  • Data security and compliance risks

To overcome these challenges and unlock the full potential of your data, you need a robust and flexible data management platform that can integrate with your Blackbaud system and other data sources and provide you with the tools and insights you need to take your fundraising and marketing to the next level.

How Microsoft Power Platform can help you extend your Blackbaud system

Microsoft Power Platform is a suite of low-code or no-code tools that enable you to build custom solutions that solve your unique business challenges. With Power Platform, you can create apps, workflows, reports, and chatbots that connect to your Blackbaud data and other data sources and empower your team members to innovate and collaborate. Microsoft Power Platform consists of five key products: Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI, Power Virtual Agents, and Power Pages.

  • Power Apps: Build web and mobile apps that run on any device and access your Blackbaud data and other data sources through the Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT certified connector. You can use Power Apps to create web portals, board reports, business processes, and data capture solutions that extend your Blackbaud system.
  • Power Automate: Create automated workflows that connect your Blackbaud system and other applications and services. You can use Power Automate to streamline repetitive tasks, such as communication, data collection, and approval processes.
  • Power BI: Analyze and visualize your Blackbaud data and other data sources and share insights through interactive dashboards and reports. You can use Power BI to track key performance indicators, such as donor acquisition, retention, and revenue, and use AI Builder to add AI capabilities, such as sentiment analysis, text recognition, or prediction.
  • Power Virtual Agents: Create and deploy conversational agents that can answer common questions, provide information, or perform tasks. You can use Power Virtual Agents to enhance your constituent service, engagement, and feedback.
  • Power Pages: Build websites that use the same shared data stored in Microsoft Dataverse that you use for building apps, workflows, chatbots, reports, and analytics with other Power Platform components. You can use Power Pages to create landing pages, microsites, or online forms that integrate with your Blackbaud system.

How Microsoft Power BI can help you analyze and visualize your Blackbaud data

Microsoft Power BI is a business analytics service that delivers insights for analyzing data. It can share those insights through data visualizations, which make up reports and dashboards to enable fast, informed decisions. Power BI can help you with:

  • Analytics: Use software tools to track key performance indicators, such as donor acquisition rates, retention rates, and fundraising revenue. This can help nonprofits make data-driven decisions and optimize their fundraising strategies.
  • Notifications across teams: Automatically send notifications of gifts in real-time or digests of donor activity.
  • Dashboards: Build and share data insights across systems, without manually building spreadsheets.

Power BI can connect to your Blackbaud data sources, as well as other cloud or on-premises data sources, such as Salesforce, Office 365, Twitter, Dropbox, Google services, and more. You can also use AI Builder to add AI capabilities to your Power BI reports and dashboards, such as sentiment analysis, text recognition, or prediction.

How Microsoft Customer Insights can help you unify and segment your Blackbaud data

Microsoft Customer Insights is a customer data platform that helps you unify and enrich your constituent data from multiple sources and create sophisticated profiles and segments for use in marketing. Customer Insights can help you with:

  • Data unification and segmentation: Connect to multiple data sources, such as your fundraising CRM, online fundraising software, ecommerce system, volunteer management system, and more. Use sophisticated mapping and matching rules to create unified constituent profiles with demographic and activity data. Use an intuitive interface to build complex segments based on your criteria.
  • Journeys: Use the segments from Customer Insights to deliver complex, multi-channel journeys across email, SMS, and other channels. Personalize your communications and optimize your campaigns with analytics and AI.

Your Raiser’s Edge data can serve as a critical data source for constituent and donation activity data feeding into constituent profiles. When combined with your data from other systems, you can create a unified view of your donors and supporters and enhance your data utilization for strategic decisions.

How to get started with Microsoft tools for your Blackbaud system

If you are interested in learning more about how you can boost your fundraising and marketing with Microsoft’s power ecosystem, we can help you. At Heller Consulting, we have over 27 years of experience supporting Blackbaud products. We are also a partner of Microsoft Tech for Social Impact and have more than fifteen years of strategy and implementation experience on Salesforce. We can help you with:

  • Developing a technology strategy that aligns with your business goals. We focus on what you are trying to solve from a business perspective, then identify the technology from there, rather than selecting a technology and trying to shoehorn your business process into it.
  • Integrating Blackbaud with Microsoft tools. We can help you set up the connectors, automations, and reports that you need to extend your Blackbaud system with Microsoft Power Platform, Power BI, and Customer Insights.
  • Scaling data usage and operations. We can help you improve your data quality, security, and governance, and leverage best practices for fundraising marketing analytics and AI.

If you want to take advantage of these powerful Microsoft tools today without having to migrate your entire donor database, contact us today. We would love to hear from you and help you achieve your fundraising and marketing goals.

About the Authors

Catherine Moore
Catherine has served the nonprofit sector for over 20 years, defining and guiding the strategic pathway for technology, digital transformation, marketing, and fundraising at the Canadian Cancer Society and others. She is skilled at understanding and addressing the human concerns... Read More
Mike Kirkpatrick
Prior to joining Heller Consulting, Mike spent over 20 years in strategic and technical leadership positions in both nonprofit and higher education organizations. Drawing upon years of experience at the Canadian Cancer Society in marketing, online fundraising and digital, he... Read More