According to the Foundation Center’s analysis of data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are approximately 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. According to the Q&A that Idealware conducted with Blackbaud, approximately 400 nonprofits are using the version of Common Ground that’s being killed. That’s about .026 percent of U.S. nonprofits. Obviously, if you’re one of those 400 you care deeply about the demise of Common Ground. But what about the rest of the nonprofit world? Here are some reasons that I’ve been thinking and hearing about:
- Nonprofits that were previously looking at Luminate are nervous about placing a bet on Blackbaud’s commitment to the Salesforce platform. Luminate was the top contender for one of my clients, but they’re strongly considering eliminating Blackbaud from further consideration. I doubt they’re the only ones.
- Nonprofits that are currently using Common Ground Enterprise, Luminate, and Convio Online Marketing are also nervous. I’ve been hearing from many large organizations that are wondering whether they should be looking elsewhere. (And of course Blackbaud’s competitors are only too happy to capitalize on these fears.)
- This could undermine nonprofits’ willingness to use cloud-based (aka Software as a Service or SaaS) databases. As I mentioned in my previous post about Common Ground, even though Blackbaud announced in 2006 that it was killing GiftMaker Pro (GMP), since the software ran on clients’ own servers it’s still in use. Blackbaud says it still gets calls from GiftMaker users, and we get questions from GMP users on TechSoup’s forums (here’s one from June 2012). But with a cloud-based system, when a vendor ends support or goes out of business the product can simply vanish.
- One of the discussions during NTEN’s community call about Blackbaud’s purchase of Convio was whether the nonprofit community should band together and build its own donor management system rather than being dependent on for-profit vendors. That discussion continued on my blog. I expect it will be strengthened by this move.