Raiser's Edge 7 seems like its going to hang around forever

Published on 26 November 2018

Quite a lot of the charities I've worked with have used Blackbaud's The Raiser's Edge for fundraising. Version 7 was launched in July 2000 and was a client-server Windows database app. At the time it was very compelling, with lots of features tailored to charity fundraising. I remember being impressed by the Query Editor that was built in:

re screenshot

See the little bracket buttons and And/Or buttons in the corner? Users could add filters and then group them with brackets and apply Or operators. Amazing, at the time.

But by about 2005 or so it was becomming apparent that web technology was now good enough that a CRUD database application was actually much more useful as a web app. Or even a cloud-delivered web app (by 2005, Salesforce had 20,000 organisations signed up as customers)

I remember around the second half of that decade, there were rumours of a web-based Raisers' Edge 8 being developed. It was going to be amazing! And completely customisable! Add you own fields! Blackbaud was creating the 'infinity platform'! But then they seemed to hit problems. RE8 continued to not appear. The 'infinity platform' was used for some of Blackbaud's products for bigger markets like BB Enterprise CRM, but wasn't used as a platform for RE8. Perhaps the fundraising market wasn't worth the effort.

In 2011 the Re-Decoded blog wrote:

...It is hard to imagine that Blackbaud will be announcing RE8 on the Infinity platform any time soon. Combine this with the fact that no major enhancements to The Raiser’s Edge version 7 application are expected, many organisations are surely feeling frustrated by Blackbaud’s apparent inertia.

A commenter replied:

The overdue-ness of RE8 is becoming a big deal IMHO – as each year goes by without RE7 being replaced, it’s looking more and more dated and younger more web2.0 savvy fundraisers will be looking at Salesforce Foundation and licking their lips. It’s a big issue for Blackbaud, a really really big one

Meanwhile, Raiser's Edge 7 continued to hang around

graph of RE version number over time

(Source for graph: here, here and here)

Charities looking for an alternative to Raiser's Edge were starting to look at Salesforce. In 2009 Convio launched Common Ground, "The CRM solution for nonprofits, built 100% on Force.com". A proper competitor to Raiser's Edge, but on the Salesforce platform. But then in 2012, Blackbaud bought Convio. And then they promptly announced that they were turning Common Ground off. People were not happy.

Finally, in 2015, Blackbaud released Raiser's Edge NXT; essentially a "version 8" but rebranded as NXT. Raiser's Edge NXT has a fully browser based, cloud hosted interface called 'web view' where some features can be accessed. But it also has a second interface called 'database view' where, according to the knowledge base, users do ".. most data entry, gift processing and complex queries ...". What is this 'database view' exactly? Well, its Raiser's Edge 7.96, running in Citrix.

side by side screenshot of Re NXT database view and RE7