I received a flurry of emails, calls and texts from partners and current eTapestry customers after Blackbaud sent out the following email in July 2016:
Subject: Is your organization outgrowing eTapestry?
The Blackbaud product portfolio has recently undergoneamajor improvement initiative, offering a true, best-in-class experience across the board. Our products are fully loaded with the innovation, intelligence, and insight you need to focus on your donors and not on your database.
As your organization continues to grow, Blackbaud will be there to grow with you. We want to educate you on the benefits of Raiser’s Edge NXT™ as your organizational needs evolve past eTapestry. Raiser’s Edge NXT offer the total solution to manage your sophisticated fundraising and advancement efforts.
It seemed ironic to be introducing another one of the Blackbaud family of products, namely Raiser’s Edge NXT, when for years Raiser’s Edge customers had been switching over to eTapestry (and Bloomerang).
Each message I received asked a variation of one of the following questions:
“Is eTapestry nearing the end of its product life?”
“Is Blackbaud not going to invest any further in eTapestry?”
“What specifically does RE NXT offer that eTapestry does not?”
Perhaps it was because I was part of the core team that created and brought eTapestry to market back in 1999 that so many reached out to me. In each conversation, whether or not Blackbaud is gearing up to sunset eTapestry wasn’t what I was most interested in exploring.
Why nonprofits change software
Just about every commercially available donor database adds or improves a few features here and there every year. Cloud-based products roll out improvements much more frequently.
However, seldom (in any market) are there true breakthroughs in design or structure.
That is why Steve Jobs was so admired. Think about what he and his team achieved in just two key product categories; going from the portable CD player to the iPod and from the flip phone to the iPhone were giant breakthroughs.
Rather than trying to create a smaller or lighter CD player, or one that held multiple discs, or one with longer battery life, or one with slightly better sound quality (see also: a faster horse) Jobs gave us the ability to hold our entire music library literally in the palm of our hands!
Consumers switched because it was a true game-changer, even if it meant spending hours digitizing your entire CD collection while changing the very way you purchase music.
Donor management software too has evolved since the first ones were introduced for the IBM PC in the early 1980s. We’ve added color, added processing power, added reporting, added email, web forms and API integrations. However, truly major breakthroughs have been severely lacking – the type of breakthrough where only a few insist on maintaining the status quo. One could only point to the cloud-based software revolution as a true leap forward. Just adding or tweaking a few features, or getting bullied into a change, is not going make the difference in raising more dollars or retaining more donors.
It’s time to break free of the status quo
This is one of the reasons why I put off my retirement (spending time with my now six grandkids) to help create and bring Bloomerang to market. It’s why we reached out to respected industry experts when we started designing the software. It’s why we developed tools that allow fundraisers to, for the first time, easily measure donor retention and donor engagement, while optimizing their communications to supporters. The feedback we have received from the marketplace has been overwhelmingly positive.
The writing has been on the wall at Blackbaud for many years when it comes to eTapestry: cutting back their product and development teams to maintenance only, attempting to offshore customer support, and closing their Indianapolis office. When you combine this seeming unwillingness to support their product with a massive data breach and a surprise surcharge, the use of eTapestry has become an issue of good governance.
If your nonprofit organization is using eTapestry and you’re anxious about what the future holds, let’s talk. Not only are the solutions to eTapestry’s shortcomings baked into the DNA of Bloomerang, the #1 system we switch folks off of is Raiser’s Edge. You can make a change that will truly revolutionize your fundraising processes.
Purchasing that first iPhone may have been scary at the time, but I doubt any of you would go back to your flip phone.
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.