The Raiser’s Edge vs. Salesforce: Which Database Is Best for GivingTree?

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We power our customers’ EverTrue apps and GivingTree with a mix of yesterday’s classics and today’s hits.

Wait, that’s not right. I meant to say: We power our customers’ apps with a mix of their institutional data and social data from LinkedIn and other sources. Addresses, interests, employment, and degree history are Led Zeppelin and James Brown, while LinkedIn and Facebook are Lorde and Rihanna.

We do our best to make it easy to import your institutional data, but I’ve learned from working on those imports with our 300+ customers that it’s not always easy. What might look at first like small CRM quirks can have a big impact on how much time the import takes and how easy it might be to automate the process.

Many of our customers use The Raiser’s Edge, Blackbaud’s flagship CRM. A smaller but growing number use Salesforce. After almost a year at EverTrue, I have enough experience with both to compare them.

So which one is easier to work with in the context of EverTrue? Let’s look at four main considerations:

1. Can all the right fields be exported?

In both cases, yes.

The data model of Raiser’s Edge has been lovingly tuned over three decades, and there’s usually a few defined places to find each piece of data.

Salesforce is far more configurable; its Nonprofit Starter Pack handles individuals, households, and relationships in a certain way and these might be implemented differently in another Salesforce product like roundCause, Affinaquest, or in a completely custom version.

The bottom line is that we can get all the fields needed to power EverTrue from either CRM.

Verdict: Tie

 

2. Can we schedule and automate the export?

The Raiser’s Edge has a module called Queue that allows exports to be scheduled and delivered to a folder on the Windows computer running it.

Salesforce supports report scheduling and emailing in its Enterprise Edition (available free to nonprofits for up to 10 licenses), but email might not be the most secure place for this kind of report. Luckily, there is a panoply of other options to get a file automatically to your desktop or a secure folder, including Informatica Cloud and Salesforce’s own Apex Data Loader and Jitterbit. (These tools are sometimes called ETL for Extract, Transform, Load.)

Verdict: Salesforce, for flexibility

Update: Omatic’s CEO wrote in below that ImportOmatic can assist with scheduled exports in Raiser’s Edge.

3. Can it be done with one export/report?

In most cases—with a little elbow grease with criteria—you can get all the fields in The Raiser’s Edge into a single export. We’ve created a document to walk you through it step by step.

All the fields we ask for at EverTrue could in theory be present in a single report in Salesforce, but it might take even more effort than with The Raiser’s Edge. You might need to have rollup fields for last, largest, and lifetime gifts to get the data from the Opportunity records onto the Contact, Account, or Household. It might also be tricky to include education and work records in a single row per constituent.

Verdict: Raiser’s Edge

 

4. Do we have to mess around with the CSV afterwards?

After the file is exported, sometimes our customers need to make changes to the file, namely:

  • Replacing a solicitation value like “Do not contact” or “Off mail” with an “N” for Address1IsShared
  • Concatenating several sports or interest columns into a single value, separated by semicolons like Bocce;Jai Alai;Calvinball

Both The Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce sometimes require these changes after an export. The Raiser’s Edge exports multiple values for a constituent in multiple columns, so it more often needs concatenation. On the other hand, Salesforce’s ecosystem of ETL tools can often be configured to make the necessary transformations on the fly.

Verdict: Tie, slight edge to Salesforce

Looks like there’s no clear winner in the battle between The Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce, thanks to some work arounds. Looking for an even simpler database alternative? Check out my “Database of the Future” blog post.

 

EverTrue has even more tools for you to use. Check them out here!

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