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.

5 thoughts on “Disappointed at Blackbaud

  1. Hi Manny,

    Thanks for writing – our team is very grateful for the candid feedback – and I can assure you it has been shared throughout the organization. We are using this and other feedback to help shape the best possible options for our Common Ground customers moving forward.

    In response to your comments, after informing our employees, we contacted the approximately 400 organizations affected by the retirement of Common Ground. You were included in our email outreach – I’m sorry you didn’t receive the communication. We certainly didn’t want you to find out from someone else with little details about next steps!

    Back in the spring, we hadn’t even begun integration planning, so there would have been no way to tell how the future combined product portfolio would pan out. After the acquisition of Convio was completed, we had our combined team evaluate our fundraising and CRM solution portfolio. For small-to mid-sized nonprofits, that meant looking at Common Ground, eTapestry, and The Raiser’s Edge. We spent over three months reviewing the solutions, evaluating current customer usage, looking at industry reports, and talking to customers about their future needs – all focused on determining what solutions would most drive success and satisfaction for nonprofits. It was a difficult decision, as all of the solutions have their benefits across the board.

    I hope you plan on attending the Common Ground Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, as we will be providing more details around this decision and updates on conversion options. (Link posted at http://www.blackbaud.com/convio where we provide continual integration updates.)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and please keep in touch throughout the process if I may be of assistance.


  2. Pingback: Blackbaud Common Ground Town Hall meeting update | Ask Manny Hernandez

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