Category Archives: Not Code

Moving over to SKY API

This blog has mainly consisted of the COM based RE7 API and my musings of all things Blackbaud related. I am sure that the latter will no doubt continue but I have realised for a while now that as time goes on the RE7 API is becoming less and less relevant (although not entirely so) and that there is a natural progression towards the SKY API.

In general there is probably less to be said about SKY API. Firstly Blackbaud have been doing a much better job at documenting it than they ever did with the RE7 API. They are also putting a lot more thought into it so that there are far fewer inconsistencies (so far at least) than there ever were with the RE7 API. Where there are difficult, new, areas they have written up good documentation or blog posts to explain. In short they have made my job here somewhat redundant… Well thanks a lot Blackbaud!

Actually, yes, thank you. I would much rather a clean usable API than one where I have to write up blog posts explaining how to do things. I am sure that there will be moments but there will quite possibly be fewer of them.

One topic that I think deserves some discussion though is the porting of existing functionality from RE7 to SKY. Those of us that have products written for RE7 are keen to see the functionality available on SKY in order that we can port the solutions over.

I have been very keen to transfer Chimpegration but one of the stumbling blocks has been the lack of bulk data processing on SKY. Specifically the ability to return filtered lists of constituents. On many platforms this means simply specifying a last data changed or a keyword search. On RE7 though it is possible to make use of a query to retrieve that information. The user would themselves set up the criteria in the query and the application would allow the user to select that query.

There is some discussion on the SKY API forums about how imperative it is that this be ported over to SKY and that we should be allowed to once again select an existing query.

Despite really needing this functionality for Chimpegration, I am not convinced that this is the best course of action for SKY. This new API should embrace a general approach to this problem. It cannot be based on RE7’s query module. There is definitely a need to generate lists based on complex filters and criteria and that should be exposed somehow to the developer community but to simply port the existing RE7 functionality to SKY would be short-sighted and not take into consideration the other applications what will one day make use of the same API. I want an API that will work with RE, BBCRM, ETap and others. To simply port queries to SKY would confuse the issue and make for an API that is not consistent.

Importacular Arrives on Blackbaud Hosting

When we released Importacular almost a year ago we broke the mould in how Raiser’s Edge importing tools worked.

Before that time it was:

  1. Export the data Eventbrite/Crowdrise/Classy/JustGiving/etc  ensuring that you export only the data you need from the last time you ran the process
  2. Try to remember where you saved the file
  3. Pick up the file
  4. Map the values from one very long list of Raiser’s Edge fields
  5. Import the data (fingers crossed)
  6. Map a second time to do another pass because not everything can be imported in one go.
  7. Panic because you still have to justify cost to your boss / the board

With Importacular:

  1. Pick the data source Eventbrite/Crowdrise/Classy/JustGiving/etc
  2. Set up your mapping conveniently split up into areas making importing constituents, relationships, relationships of those relationships, education records of those constituents with gifts (actually any number of layers of constituent relationships with their child records) surprisingly easy
  3. Import the data (once)
  4. Tell the board how you are going to spend all the extra money that you saved

The first year was a whirlwind.

It started with Eventbrite and Graduway, moved on to Hubspot, Constant Contact, Formstack, SurveyMonkey, Justgiving, WeDidIt, VineUp, Crowdrise and most recently DotMailer, Adestra, Classy, iSAMS and to come Almabase. (We shouldn’t forget the humble CSV and Excel file too)

With the ability to import on to constituent records and gift records entirely for free, we added relationships, education, actions, banks and financial accounts, participants, prospects and proposals, solicitors/canvassers and volunteers.

When we added the ability to schedule imports that left one gaping hole in the product that was ready to be filled.

When would it be available for Blackbaud hosted organisations and those that wish to move to NXT?

It took a while but we are really excited that Importacular is now available to all Raiser’s Edge users wherever they work.

If you would like to try an import then get in contact. Even if you are using another product give Importacular a go. It is, after all free to import on to constituents and gifts so what do you have to lose?

If you are hosted by blackbaud then request a trial

If you are self-hosted go ahead and download Importacular and get started for free:

What is the difference between Chimpegration and Online Express?

What is the difference between Chimpegration and Online Express?

We are big Blackbaud fans and love much of what Blackbaud produces. Online Express is no exception. The fact that there is one application that can ask for donations, handle event registrations, manage memberships as well as allowing you to send out targeted and personalised emails is amazing. What is even better is that it does so with a complete integration into The Raiser’s Edge. – WOW!

Continue reading What is the difference between Chimpegration and Online Express?

Just When You Thought Validatrix Could Not Get More Complicated…

One of the problems of offering a tool that can create custom business rules for almost any scenario is that it has to have a lot of functionality. As we developed Validatrix we realised that some of that functionality was missing so we added it on. The problem with that of course is that the more you add on the more complicated the application becomes.

We have attempted to remedy this by offering the Validatrix Query Converter which does a good job of converting queries into rules and is often a good starting point for expanding a rule further.

We realised that we had missed out on a piece of functionality that was preventing us from creating a rule with a specific scenario. It is possible to all sorts of logic within one rule. We can check if a field value is exactly the same as another, if it is not the same as if it is greater than or less than etc. Continue reading Just When You Thought Validatrix Could Not Get More Complicated…

Chimpegration on Blackbaud Hosted Raiser’s Edge (and NXT)

I cannot think how many times I have had to write back to a prospective client with the stock phrase “Unfortunately our products are not available on the Blackbaud hosted environment at the current time”.  The ground-breaking news is that after at least 7 years waiting in the wings, we are able to release one of our products on the Blackbaud hosted environment. (Finally I can updated my stock phrase)

When it was first released Chimpegration revolutionised the meaning of integration within The Raiser’s Edge world. It was the first app to fully embrace the potential of two separate platforms to transfer data between Raiser’s Edge and MailChimp. Unlike some integration applications it takes data directly from the source. Data flows from MailChimp via Chimpegration into The Raiser’ s Edge and back again. There is no need for any manual manipulation along the way. Chimpegration gives you a multitude of options to help smooth the different data points and ease the transition of information from MailChimp, an email marketing suite, to The Raiser’s Edge and donor management CRM system.

Azadi Sheridan, independent fundraising data expert, RE guru and former Blackbaud senior manager said,

‘Integration’ can mean different things for different products, but Chimpegration is the most complete and automated integration for MailChimp that I’ve seen for any fundraising database.

And now all of this is available to Blackbaud hosted clients too!

What does this mean for the future? One of the issues that many of the prospective clients faced and even our existing clients was whether they should invest in technology that is not available to them on NXT. They would put off a purchase or renewal decision because they wanted to wait and see what NXT would hold. RE7 has so much functionality but NXT looks amazing.  Having the best of both worlds is certainly a selling point for any organisation. With Chimpegration on the NXT hosted platform it is easier than ever to transition across to NXT and keep working with MailChimp.

So now you have heard all about it why not request a demo of Chimpegration.

Ready to take the plunge? Request a trial of Chimpegration on hosted.

If you are not hosted and have questions please get in contact too. Those who are not hosted by Blackbaud can also download and trial the Pro version of Chimpegration now from our Chimpegration page.

Validatrix Query Converter Makes it even easier to protect your data

When we first developed Validatrix we had a lofty ambition that users of Raiser’s Edge would be able to protect their records using any combination of business rules. Out of the box, RE allows you to make some fields required. If the whole organisation wants city to be a required field all you have to do is going to configuration and set that field to be required.

However there are many limitations with that. What if we are only working with email only records. We may not have a physical address for those constituents. Validatrix makes it possible to combine criteria to validate records.

(Do they have an address block: YES
OR
Do they have an a postal code: YES)
SO
DO they have a city:

No? Well show a message.

What we soon realised was that for simple scenarios it was not that difficult to create rules. We also realised that after much practise and taking a look at our Validatrix Recipes area on ZeidZone, it became easier. Those starting out or writing more complicate rules needed a little more help.

That is why we developed the Validatrix Query Converter. Most, if not all DBAs can write a regular RE query. If they can write a query to give all the records where a message would be shown then this tool can convert the query into a Validatrix rule.

I have to say straight up here that not every single scenario is covered. There are some things (not many) that query can do that cannot be done in a rule. (There are so very many more things that Validatrix rules can do that query can do!). However this should get the beginner and those that are working with complex rules onto the right track.

If you have any questions about this product then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here.

 

Beyond Nines hosting becomes Concourse Hosting

We have been working with Glen at Beyond Nines for years now and just heard about how the hosting part of Beyond Nines is now becoming Concourse Hosting. At Beyond Nines Glen, Lisa and the team were the only dedicated company to host our products for their Raiser’s Edge clients. We have hopefully tried to make installing our products as easy as possible but we also know that sometimes it requires a skilled hand to get them to work in complex IT environments. That is why we know that we can rely on Concourse Hosting who just know how our plug-ins work and how to ensure that they run smoothly in their Raiser’s Edge setup. They currently host clients of ours using Audit Trail, Chimpegration, Importacular and The Mergician to name but a few.

For very many years now we had hoped that Blackbaud would let us into their hosting. With the move to NXT and away from the hosting of RE Classic customizations this is looking ever doubtful. However if you want the best of breed hosting and great products certainly take a look at Concourse:  https://www.concoursehost.com/

BBCon 2015 Sessions to Watch out for

For the past quite a few years we have attended the Blackbaud Conference for Non-profits otherwise known as BBCon. This year we will be there again exhibiting and speaking. Each year we look through the sessions and recommend those that we think will be among the highlights. So in no particular order (other than my session is first in the list because it is the one everybody has to see)…

Performance Management Using Audit Trail

David Zeidman, Zeidman Development and Mohammed Dasser, University of Central Florida Foundation.

This session will show how Audit Trail can be used to manage an organization’s workflow.  David will give a brief overview of life with and without Audit Trail as well as some of the latest innovations to track performance in RE. Mohammed describes how they have aggregated Audit Trail data in order to determine how best to prioritize resources at UCF and convince others of the need using Tableau.

 

Bill and Ed’s Excellent Adventure…in Raiser’s Edge™

Bill Connors and Ed Hohlbein

How could you not want to attend a session with a name like this. However there is much more to it than just the name. Bill and Ed have had sessions for several years now and each time I hear them both speak, their knowledge and expertise outstand me time and time again. Well worth a visit.

Meet the Early Raiser’s Edge NXT™ Adopters

Meghan Gauen, Children’s Home & Aid and Kelsi Griffith, Grace College

We have heard a lot from Blackbaud about how NXT will improve our fundraising world but it really is interesting to see and hear exactly how it is being used in a real world scenario form real non-profits.

Looking beyond Raiser’s Edge™ 7 for Large Organizations

Linton Myers, Allison Van Diest, Kurt Barnes and Jim Ballou, Blackbaud

I have heard many larger organizations say that they are struggling with RE7. Some have been contemplating moving away from Blackbaud because they do not believe NXT will solve their problems. I have high hopes for BBCRM solving many issues of volume but am uncertain as to how large an organization needs to be to warrant the investment. Hoping this session will answer the questions.

Introduction to NXT API & Integrations

Dan Bowman, Ben Lambert and Jim Ballou, Blackbaud

What would a coding blog be without reference to a coding session. I have been involved in some of the NXT API discovery sessions and am very impressed with what I have so far seen. I hope you will be too.

Nonprofit Tech in 2025

Steve MacLaughlin, Blackbaud and Donna Wilkins, Charity Dynamics

I am always fascinated by futurology. 2025, while sounding very much in the future, is only ten years away and it will be interesting to hear what our speakers think will be the technology of choice for non-profits, for those who give to non-profits and those that consume non-profit services.

Raiser’s Edge and Raiser’s Edge NXT Integration: Getting the Most from Data Across Your Organization

Emily Dalton and Kevin Kreamer, Omatic Software

I have known Emily for almost ten years and heard her speak on numerous occasions. Her knowledge and grasp of the non-profit world from having worked at Blackbaud and been so involved with Raiser’s Edge make me believe that, despite working for, and no doubt pushing competing products, this will be an insightful session. (I am sure Kevin is also great)

How to Maximize Engagement Using Graduway and The Raiser’s Edge Together

Daniel Cohen, Graduway

Having worked with Graduway for this past year I have been impressed by their product and how it can transform the quality of data being brought into Raiser’s Edge and enhance their offering to school’s alumni.

Global Merge More Accurately with The Mergician

We have just released an update to our successful global merge utility The Mergician. We have always had a way of searching for records in The Raiser’s Edge using complex and flexible criteria. IDLookup was one of the first plug-ins that we ever wrote and since it was first developed it has grown to contain some of the most powerful look up criteria around. A year or two ago we created IDLookup Dedupe, making use of IDLookup to search your database for duplicates. Well now we have gone one step further and brought all of this flexible, customization and downright lovely criteria lookup into The Mergician giving everybody the power to choose exactly how they dedupe their data.

There are 20 fields to choose from, many of which you can decide whether or not to search by the whole word or a specific number of characters. You can search using soundex (where names like Johnson and Jonson would be matched), you can search using first name and address line equivalents so that names like Bill match on William and Bvd match on Boulevard. If you are feeling very adventurous you can change the collation so that accented names would match with or without the accents e.g. Édouard would match Edouard.

Not only can you set up one criteria set, but you can set up multiples. You can decide that you want to narrow down the matches made from one to the next or you can decide that you want to select the criteria set with the fewest matches.

The Mergician still supports The Raiser’s Edge own dedupe algorithm so you can continue to create your merge report using that. You can also use our simple email matching tool too or you can use a third party agency to do the matching for you. However using our latest matching engine will give you real flexibility to match based on your own data without having to rely on mysterious algorithms or scoring charts.

Find out more about The Mergician or download the trial version today.