Blackbaud Common Ground Town Hall meeting update

These are notes from today’s Town Hall meeting, by one of our staff at Diabetes Hands Foundation, as a follow up to last week’s post, “Disappointed at Blackbaud“.

Q: Will you be compensating people that just spent thousands of dollars setting up Common Gronund in the last 4 months?
NO, they will provide migration assistance at no additional cost to eTapestry, but did not explain how.

Q: How will migration assistance be at no cost, if we are working with partners….will Blackbaud help us themselves for free? How will it work?
Migration assitance will be outlined with each customer by October 31.

Q: I got an email from PayPal saying that they know that Common Ground needs to implement malware protect for our donation pages (we just got set up and have received [a number of] fraudulent donations in 3 weeks [that we are having to spend time and staff resources reimbursing]). The email said Common Ground knows they need to do this, but will not, so how are you going to support us until March 2014, if you aren’t supporting us now?

We will continue to work to protect against fraudulent transactions. If you haven’t already, please open a support ticket. If you have opened a ticket, please update it and request they escalate to me.
(we have an open ticket)

Q: We never even received an email from Blackbaud that they were retiring Common Ground (the implementation partner was the one who informed us). How can we be sure that we will be contacted about migration options by October 31?
No answer…

Solutions: All they say is switch to eTapestry or Raiser’s Edge. Blackbaud will only allow us to cancel Common Ground contract early if we switch to another blackbaud product, not another solution. There is no way they will reconsider not getting rid of Common Ground…

Disappointed at Blackbaud

For those who don’t know, Commonground is a donor management system, formerly owned by a company called Convio. Convio was acquired by another (larger) company called Blackbaud earlier this year. At the end of August, Blackbaud announced their decision to retire Commonground…

It wasn’t only their business decision to pull the plug (here’s an excellent post about this), but the way it was handled, that makes me so deeply dissapointed at Blackbaund (and by extension at Convio) for showing so little care about the customers they had on this platform… indeed, for continuing to cultivate new customers for the platform at conferences earlier this year (read: we, at the Diabetes Hands Foundation) while not being certain of the future of the product.

As of today, there’s no searchable way to find information about their decision on the Blackbaud web site. Someone got an email from them and has made this link to the announcement from that email communication public… shameful that they don’t own their decision in a visible way and face the criticism it deserves from the 700+ customers that use the product. A streamlined version of this email found its way to the Commonground page of the Convio web site after we heard the news early last week:

It’s not just me, criticizing this decision (I am just a customer, and certainly not an expert at these kinds of software product). Robert Weiner, one of the world’s most knowledgeable people about donor management systems, wrote a very insightful post on Blackbaud’s decision to kill Commonground.

For what it’s worth, I as you to please sign this petition:

and I share below, the email I sent out to Melanie Matos, Senior PR person at Blackbaud. I know she cares, so I know she will pass this along to the right people. What will they do? We can only hope they think a bit more about their customers and this decision will do to them…

Hello Melanie,
I am reaching out to you as the Senior PR person at Blackbaud.

I was very disappointed at the way the announcement of the discontinuation of support for CommonGround was handled:
1) At the NTC event in SF, we were told by people at the booth, when I specifically asked about the future of CommonGround that there was no overlap with existing BB products, and CG was indeed one of the main reasons why Convio was being acquired by BB.
2) The way we learned about the discontinuation of the product was not directly but by way of the consultant we worked with in the implementation, several days after some people (who knows who) received a communication from Blackbaud about the decision… how about involving the customers and informing them first? You know who were are and we deserved at least that courtesy.
3) Last, although I copied BlackBaud in a recent tweet about this, I received absolutely no acknowledgement from the company.

We spent $4,000+ in the implementation of CG and dozens of staff hours in researching systems, finding that CG was the best option, getting the system up and running… and now we will have to budget for changing to a new system. Most likely, given this experience, it won’t be a Blackbaud solution.

I will be blogging about this. The way the decision was made and he announcement was handled shows very little care for the customer on the part of Blackbaud. Indeed, if you try to find information on the announcement through the web site… there’s none!

I am profoundly disappointed at Blackbaud and hope you can convey this to the higher ups.