Tag Archives: BBCON

BBCon 2020 – Session Recommendations

This year will be a very strange BBCon. Gone is the flight over, the anticipation, hoards of people all in one place, the discussion over the food, the inevitable “bacon” joke (does that joke ever get old?), the jet lag and of course, all that swag.

One thing still there though are the quality speakers and sessions. As with each year I am giving a round up of the most interesting speakers and anticipated sessions. These are all my personal opinion which is, of course, from a more technical perspective so if I have left anybody off the list that justifiably should be on then I apologise in advance.

So, in no particular order….

Utilize the Power of OData in Blackbaud Altru® to create Valuable Dashboards in Microsoft® Excel and Power BI – Carly Meek.

We make use of OData in Chimpegration Cloud for Altru. From a technical perspective it is one of the most important distinctions between the Altru development platform (Infinity) and the SKY API. OData allows any query that has been put together in Altru to be “streamed” to other platforms, in our case, Chimpegration but importantly applications such as Excel, Power BI and other analytic applications. Definitely one to watch if you need access to your data in a more advanced setting.

Nonprofit Analytics: How To Build Financial and Fundraising Dashboards – Thomas A. Evans and Linton Myers

This session is a great follow up to the session that I did last year with Graham Getty (From Crystal to Cloud. See the live demo part here). Where Graham and I looked at ways in which you could replace and enhance legacy functionality and move to the cloud, Thomas and Linton take another look at how those capabilities have changed and added some that Graham and I may well have missed. Definitely worth taking a look at.

Get Your Head in the Cloud – Eric Wand

As developers we sometimes forget life before the Cloud. The ease with which you can reach all your resources wherever you may be is something that web applications strive to help customers with. And yet I still find resonance with Eric’s opening sentence: “Remember when the internet felt expensive, untrustworthy and complicated?”. When I compare developing a plugin to developing a cloud solution this still rings true. If I still get nostalgia over desktop applications then surely less than technical users may well feel the same. This session is sure to convince you otherwise.

Open a world of possibilities with SKY Developer – Stu Hawkins and Ben Wong

I have seen some of the customisations that Stu and his team have produced and I am regularly impressed. The SKY API platform has come a long way from the early days and there is now so much more functionality available to developers to customise RE NXT. It will certainly be fascinating to see what new and exciting utilities Stu has to offer. If you are new to developing or want to get started make sure that you take a look at this session and quiz Ben who has all the answers!

Back by Popular Demand: NXT Tips and Tricks – Lisa Nurminen and Jarod Bonino

This session is becoming an annual favourite. Having missed it at BBCon 2019 in Nashville (the room was too packed to get into), I managed to see it at BBCon 2019 London. Now husband and wife team (sorry if I spoiled the worst kept secret outside of Blackbaud) are back. Lisa and Jarod know NXT inside out and have found ways of working with it that overcomes any drawbacks that you might find. I felt that this session was worth it even though I am not working with NXT on a day to day basis. You can be sure that they will have some new tips and tricks up their sleeves as well as showing the best ones from last year.

Mastering Security in Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT® – Bill Connors

No session list would be complete without Bill Connors. Bill wrote the book on Raiser’s Edge (literally). It will be great to see a session looking at NXT security. While the database view is somewhat of a known entity, the new NXT modules are, for me at least, somewhat of a mystery. How you link that functionality with good organisation policies will be essential viewing for anybody managing a database.

Nothing takes your fancy? Well here are some of our favourites from past years:

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.

Performance Management using Audit Trail – slides available

For those of you who were at BBCon 2013 (and for those of you who were not) Mohammed Dasser and I presented a session on performance management using the Audit Trail. The slides are available here: http://www.slideshare.net/blackbaud/performance-management-using-audit-trail?from_search=1

If you have any questions about what Mohammed has done then I would love to be able to answer them but to be honest he overwhelmed me with the sophisticated use of Audit Trail and you would be better of asking him! That being said feel free to post your comments about the session or ask directly and I will try and get an answer.

Blackbaud Conference Sessions to Watch out for #bbcon

It seems like a time honoured tradition of existing speakers telling others which sessions at the Blackbaud Conference  (BBCon) they should look out for. There is Heller Consulting’s, Joe Matic’s ( take his advice with caution – he is, after all, a robot) and, um, others. (Feel free to add them to the comments.)

I have now attended five conferences in the US and three in the UK. What do I look for in a good session? Well quite often the speaker is key. If they are not engaging then however interesting the topic , it will be lost on the audience. That being said some topics just shouldn’t be missed. (You can always moan about the speaker afterwards!)

So in no particular order (other than my two are going first as this is my blog and I am allowed to throw impartiality out the window), here is my choice of great speakers and sessions to look out for.


Performance Management using Audit Trail – David Zeidman and Mohammed Dasser

Have you ever wondered how you could use Audit Trail to measure your organization’s performance entering accurate data? You may wonder what records are being entered the most or how many different people are entering data onto a specific area. David will give a little background to Audit Trail and Mohammed will show you how University of Central Florida have created various metrics to report on performance. This is not going to be a sale pitch for Audit Trail (come to the Zeidman Development booth for that) .

Raiser’s Edge Geek Forum 2: The Revenge – Ed Hohlbein, Melissa Graves, Kirk Schmidt, Bill Connors and David Zeidman

There are very many different ways of using The Raiser’s Edge. If you went to the session last year you would have seen 5 Raiser’s Edge experts from three different countries, discussing / arguing about best practises. If you have a burning question about how some aspect of The Raiser’s Edge should best be done then don’t expect one straight answer! The panel will debate different solutions based on your questions.

Real-Time Integration Between The Raiser’s Edge and the Cloud – Jonathan Puddle

Now more than ever the digital and technology world is moving to the cloud. There are many definitions of “cloud” but any technology that doesn’t connect through traditional solutions (same network, etc) requires new solutions. I have done some work with Jonathan in the past and know that some of the things that Catch The Fire have done with their various systems are quite remarkable and well worth hearing about.

Social Media Police: Nonprofit Edition – Allyson Kapin, Maddie Grant, Melanie Mathos

I have seen Melanie speak about nonprofit social media on numerous occasions and in previous BBCons she has spoken with Chad Norman in a session that went on to become a book – 101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits. It does not sound like this session is going to follow the same format but nevertheless it certainly sounds like this is one to watch. Social Media changes rapidly and keeping on top of the latest changes is a must. (Then you can implement them with the book!)

Infinity Platform Features and the Software Development Kit – Ben Lambert

I am a big sucker for the Infinity platform and Ben always does it good justice. It is a great environment to work with and with each version release there are always some really interesting things added. I will be watching this one closely to see what new tricks Ben has up his sleeve.

How Would you Enter THIS Gift? – Bill Connors

I have known Bill for many years. He could talk about anything and make it interesting and dynamic. However this time he is talking about gifts! And who doesn’t like a gift? Well if that gift is sent in by a known donor, from an offshore company, signed off by his spouse and as a tribute to their gardener’s special birthday, would you know how to enter it into RE and in such a way as making it reportable too?

The Raiser’s Edge Roadmap – Tom Maszk and Emily Dalton

This is an annual favourite. Tom and Emily are going to be revealing the latest greatest additions to The Raiser’s Edge. We are told that many of those that made the cut were user requests so this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. I just hope that they have beefed up the security to take care of those people who were less than pleased about their own suggestions (Yes, when will The Mergician, Validatrix and Audit Trail be added as standard RE functionality!!?)


Well those are my top picks. Sorry if I overlooked anybody but I am sure you will appear on somebody else’s list. Look forward to seeing you all there!

Blackbaud moving towards the future, just not all the way to Infinity (yet)

The past two weeks have been packed with all things Blackbaud. Last week was the Blackbaud conference in Washington DC and then this week in London. Being a big fan of all most things Blackbaud,  I had a great time, met some great people, got to meet the all new star cast at the top of the company and was pleasantly surprised by the announcements made.

Waiting for RE8 has gone from waiting with great anticipation and expectations in previous years to how we find ourselves now. We now know that RE8 will happen at some point (albeit probably under a different name) but the wait is over. We are no longer waiting for the next big thing, but for the little things. In past years we have been wowed by what was to come on the Infinity platform. This was exciting but left us wanting it without it ever arriving for the majority. Now however, looking at the new functionality in RE7; query lists, new lookup functionality, better dedupe features and being able to easily mark participants as attended, shows that despite its name (and its UI), RE7 is moving forward. Blackbaud is moving forward for everyone.

This was demonstrated so much more so in Blackbaud Mobile. The application allows you to promote campaigns through channels that may have been previously inaccessable to the majority of organisations. Allowing organisations to promote and give supporters the mechanism to  donate through text message and mirrored on a Facebook app, brings their technology offerings into this decade.

After being burned by the anticipation of the Infinity platform’s greatness for The Raiser’s Edge users, Blackbaud are quite rightly avoiding the risk of repeated vaporware. One such thread could, in previous years, come from the exciting news of Raiser’s Edge Mobile. This application will be native to iPhone, Android and possibly Blackberry, will allow users to access their RE database directly from their mobiles. After having looked at a prototype version, I am quietly confident that this application will make it in the near future. This is another step in Blackbaud’s progression of the RE7 platform into the modern age.

What is really exciting however is the technology required to enable this. There will need to be a webservice layer for The Raiser’s Edge. There has been this web service layer for a while now with the NetCommunity integration. However it has always been restricted to NetCommunity specific tasks with limited use for other applications. If Blackbaud do the right thing this time around and make the web service layer generic and open to all applications, all of a sudden we will integration with The Raiser’s Edge like never before from all sorts of web based applications.

It does not matter what it is called (RE7 or RE8, Infinity or not) it is the perception that Blackbaud’s offerings are going forward and not stagnating. With the wait for RE8, RE7 was left languishing. The risk was great that organisations would move away from Blackbaud to other platforms offering what Blackbaud should have been doing years ago. Now at least they are moving into the modern era.

Blackbaud Conferences 2011

It is that time of year again. This year I shall again be speaking at the Blackbaud conference in Washington DC and in London a week later.  This year my session will look at whether we really should customise our databases. The discussion will centre around The Raiser’s Edge and around Blackbaud Enterprise CRM. What are the main reasons for customising the software? How do you go about it? What sort of things should you look out for? In the end will it really be worth it?

In Washington I shall be speaking Monday at 2.30pm in Chesapeake 3. In London I shall be speaking at 12.20pm in Edward 5&6.

There are lots of questions and hopefully my session will answer many of the questions and if not then enable you to find your own answers. Sometimes the hardest part of the process is knowing which questions to ask.

I would love to meet up with everybody. Last year in DC one of the complaints was that it was so hard to find anybody. I did contemplate coming the the conference in fancy dress – everyone would surely be able to find me then! A pirate? A cowboy, An alien? Anyway I am not sure that I would get through immigration so easily. I will be coming as myself (see here for a mug shot) but will be setting aside some time where I will sit in the main atrium at the conference centre. Follow my twitter feed @zeiddev for exact details of where I am.