Moving from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce for Higher Ed Advancement: What to Know - Heller Consulting

Moving from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce for Higher Ed Advancement: What to Know

If you’ve been using Raiser’s Edge for a long time to support your higher education advancement activities, you might be wondering if it’s time to move to Salesforce. It’s not unusual for advancement departments to shop around for new technology — especially if they’ve been using the same software for many years.

You might find that you’ve outgrown the software. Perhaps you feel locked into a toolset with too many limitations. Maybe you need a more integrated and complete view of your donor and prospect data. You might find that you need tools that can help you work more efficiently.

These are all good reasons to consider moving to Salesforce.

Three benefits of moving to Salesforce

Salesforce has a lot to offer higher education advancement teams, including:

  • Flexibility — The Salesforce platform offers lots of flexibility, allowing you to customize and extend it with best of breed products to meet your specific needs.
  • Integrated data — A solution built on the Salesforce platform is centered around customer relationship management (CRM), which can help you grow donor relationships more effectively. It gives you a holistic view of students, alumni, donors, and other constituents so you have more insights into donor and prospect behaviors and preferences and can send targeted messages at the right time to the right people.
  • Efficiency — Tools available in the Salesforce platform give you the ability to automate processes, such as sending a targeted email series, to help you do more with less manual work.

Five tips when you’re considering a move from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce

As you consider a potential move from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce to support your advancement work, there are some important things to consider. Here are five tips to help you decide if a move to Salesforce is right for your organization and how to prepare for the move:

1. Understand the fundamental difference between Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce.

If you’re considering moving to Salesforce, you’re not looking at an apples-to-apples comparison with Raiser’s Edge. Raiser’s Edge is a fundraising-specific product, while Salesforce offers a platform on which fundraising (and many other) products are built

This requires a change in thinking about the approach to your software, but it can pay off in the long run — especially if you want to do more with your fundraising program than Raiser’s Edge can support.

2. Know what functionality you’re replacing.

There are seven key areas of functionality that you would be replacing if you were to move away from Raiser’s Edge:

    • Biographical/demographical data management
    • Gift processing
    • Prospect management
    • Donor portal
    • Event management
    • Marketing automation
    • Document generation

Raiser’s Edge provides all of this functionality in one solution. But, you’re locked into using each of the tools provided. So, for example, if you find the email/marketing automation tool doesn’t meet your needs, you don’t have much choice except to continue using it.

With Salesforce, you can choose from a host of products. So, you can select the product in each area that best meets your needs.

For example, at Heller Consulting, we partner with UC Innovation to implement ascend (which is built on the Salesforce platform) for universities and colleges. It provides advancement-specific functionality for the first four areas listed above. In addition, you can choose from other market-leading products for other areas of functionality, including Pardot or Salesforce Marketing Cloud for marketing automation, Blackthorn or Linvio for event management, and Conga or DocuSign for document generation.


Moving to Salesforce will require you to research and choose products for each area of functionality you’re replacing, but it gives you the flexibility to choose the best product in each area (and even swap them out, if needed, in the future) versus having to work with a single set of tools. In the end, it’s possible to not only reach parity with traditional fundraising functionality in Raiser’s Edge, but also be able to do much more.

3. Check your contract.

Before you get too far with researching and considering a move to Salesforce, be sure to review your Raiser’s Edge contract so that you know the end date and what type of contract renewal you might need before moving to a new system. For example, if your end date is in just a few months, you likely won’t have enough time to migrate to the new system before you must renew your contract.

4. Prepare your data.

Simply moving to a new system will not do anything to clean up bad data. Start now to get a sense of how much data clean-up you might need to do before changing to new software. For example:

  • Do you have a lot of duplicate records?
  • How far back does your data go?
  • What data do you need for the future?

Even if you ultimately decide to stay on Raiser’s Edge, having clean, updated data will help you operate more efficiently and effectively.

5. Focus on the benefits.

Moving from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce will take a change of thinking as well as time and effort. If you make the decision to move to Salesforce, keep in mind that’s it’s a long-term strategy that will ultimately give you more choice in your software, more insight into your data, and the ability to use automations to work more efficiently.

Learn more about Salesforce for Higher Ed Advancement 

If you’re considering a move from Raiser’s Edge, but you’re not sure how to move forward, the Heller Consulting team can help. We can work with you to evaluate your use of Raiser’s Edge and choose the right solutions to meet your needs. We can also help you create a clear strategy for your advancement technology, and we can help you manage the change to new technology within your organization.

Let’s get started: Contact us below!


About the Author

Shane Sugino
For the past decade, Shane has helped Higher Education institutions transform their operations and innovate in the cloud. Prior to joining Heller Consulting, Shane held roles in Financial Services, Healthcare, and technology, and he now brings that expertise while leading... Read More

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