Nonprofits and Data

last person joined: 8 days ago 

This group is for those interested in learning and sharing about all things data-related for nonprofits. The Nonprofits and Data group is for people using data to serve a mission, either directly or by improving nonprofits and the nonprofit sector. That includes everything from collecting data and managing databases to analytics, data visualization and data mining. Here are some examples of topics we discuss: using data to improve organizational effectiveness, measuring impact, using data for storytelling, tools for data management and analysis, figuring out the “right” data to collect, and learning skills to help us use data better.

Integrated Software for Foundations other than Blackbaud/FIMS

  • 1.  Integrated Software for Foundations other than Blackbaud/FIMS

    Posted Dec 15, 2018 09:42
    The Vermont Community Foundation has been using FIMS integrated software since 1998. We also use Donor Central 4 and FIMS CRM/Salesforce. We will be moving off of FIMS in the next couple/few years. The easy move is to Blackbaud's Raiser's Edge NXT/Financial Edge NXT with Donor Central NXT. But easy isn't always best.

    I would love to hear from foundations about other integrated software you are using. I've read the October 2017 Consumers Guide to Integrated Systems for Community Foundations so I have general knowledge of what's out there. What do you like or dislike about your software. Any regrets?

    Any info is greatly appreciated.


    Richard Ruane
    Vermont Community Foundation
    Middlebury, VT

  • 2.  RE: Integrated Software for Foundations other than Blackbaud/FIMS

    Posted Dec 16, 2018 17:37
    Edited by Medha Nanal Dec 16, 2018 18:05
    I am a nonprofit consultant and work with foundations to help them with their data/database needs. You mention that you are using a few systems already, and from the shared information, those systems seem to have at least some overlap in supported functionality. Exactly what is each system set up to do? I can guess that FIMS is used for managing donor/grant data. What about Salesforce and Donor Central 4?

    Also, you mention your requirement of integrated software. The question is, which functions and operations within your organization are you trying to integrate?

    To answer your question about likes/dislikes about integrated software: it would be easy to share pointers after knowing the specific systems that need to be integrated.

    Hope this helps,

    Medha Nanal
    Strategic Data/Database Consultant for Nonprofits (Fundraising, Operations, Programs)

  • 3.  RE: Integrated Software for Foundations other than Blackbaud/FIMS

    Posted Dec 17, 2018 11:08
    Since community foundations have somewhat different needs than a private foundation, going to tag in @Danielle Faulkner @Diana Rojek-Skonnord @Leon Wilson and @Eric Sirignano...  Or anyone else who has community foundation data management experience?

    Janice Chan
    Co-Organizer, NTEN Nonprofits and Data group
    Consultant, SH/FT+SCAFFOLD
    Baltimore, MD
    Twitter: @curiositybone

  • 4.  RE: Integrated Software for Foundations other than Blackbaud/FIMS

    Posted Dec 17, 2018 13:25
    All,  at the Cleveland Foundation we're using Stellar iPhi for donor management, grant management, integrated accounting and financial management.  We're also using Stellar's donor portal for donor / DAF services, and grantee portal for grantee & scholarship services.  We are exploring a more robust CRM platform; that's where Stellar's the weakest and are seriously considering Salesforce.


    Leon Wilson
    Chief of Digital Innovation and Chief Information Officer
    The Cleveland Foundation
    Cleveland, OH

  • 5.  RE: Integrated Software for Foundations other than Blackbaud/FIMS

    Posted Dec 17, 2018 14:27
    Hi Richard,
    We also use FIMS, the FIMS CRM/Salesforce setup, and Donor Central (but not 4. I'm not sure which version, but know our CFO did not want to upgrade to the latest). I have many frustrations with FIMS from the CRM standpoint and how many vital pieces are do not sync (especially interfunds).

    We have sat through a demo of the latest and greatest Blackbaud Raiser's Edge NXT/Financial Edge NX but one of our Senior Accountants were very irritated that many of the important features needed on the accounting side won't be available until February at the earliest.

    We also sat through a demo of and I was impressed with their presentation, but of course, it's all relative. We've been discussion replacing FIMS for over a year so if you have pointers as well, I'd love to hear them. Good luck!


    P.S. Thanks @Janice​ Chan

    Diana Rojek-Skonnord
    Donor Services Associate
    East Bay Community Foundation
    Oakland, CA

  • 6.  RE: Integrated Software for Foundations other than Blackbaud/FIMS

    Posted Dec 20, 2018 12:46

    Thank you all for your responses.


    For clarity, FIMS is an integrated software package for Foundations, used by many Community Foundations. It's a one-stop shop to manage user profiles, funds, gifts, grants, and accounting. All of these pieces share the master database and information put into one section is available in the other sections where appropriate, eliminating the need for entering things multiple times or exports and imports into various stand-alone programs. For CRM, FIMS has a connector to a slimmed-down version of SalesForce (support of which ends on October 1, 2019). DonorCentral is our Donor Portal for our Donor Advised Funds and it also connects back to FIMS. Accounting is one of the major strengths of FIMS. Blackbaud purchased the company that makes FIMS several years ago and has been creating a path for people to move off of FIMS to their suite of software. They're committed to supporting FIMS for as long as people want to use it but Blackbaud isn't planning any major for it. Their commitment to supporting FIMS doesn't necessarily extend to the peripheral programs tied to FIMS.


    The non-Blackbaud software packages we have been looking into so far are, GiftingNet, Stellar's iPhi Suite and Foundant's CommunitySuite. We've been using Foundant's grant life management software for our competitive grants and like the company but at the moment we aren't certain the CommunitySuite's accounting piece is fully developed enough for what we do.


    We aren't ruling out going the Blackbaud route but this year there have been a number of frustrations with their support. We're doing our due diligence.


    I'm happy to share notes with folks off list too.




    Richard Ruane

    Information Systems Manager
    The Vermont Community Foundation


  • 7.  RE: Integrated Software for Foundations other than Blackbaud/FIMS

    Posted Mar 08, 2019 10:12

    We are also looking to make the switch and the prospect of starting the search is proving as daunting as the eventual search will be.

    We actually are on almost the exact set of platforms VCF uses and we keep getting mixed messages from Blackbaud concerning FIMS end of life. We have our FIMS DB installed on-prem so that causes additional headaches for us as we are expected to maintain and update/upgrade software as patches and updates are released.

    Needless to say, we are also looking for experience and guidance along this path.

    Our CEO recently started reaching out to a few CFs in the area who have started or completed this process and we've compiled a list of questions for them in preparation for our embarking on this long arduous process. I'd be very happy to share both the questions we have come up with and the eventual answers we receive.

    If you have some insights or questions for me I'd be happy to receive/answer them.


    Michael Clinton
    Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation
    Sheffield, MA

  • 8.  RE: Integrated Software for Foundations other than Blackbaud/FIMS

    Posted Mar 08, 2019 19:35
    Hi Michael & Richard,
    With the looming deadline of when support is supposedly ending for FIMS CRM, we're having many meetings about replacements. I would be very grateful if you were willing to share any information and resources. I just asked my CFO if he has was provided a list of other community foundations that have made the move.

    Since the most recent demonstration of the Raiser's Edge CRM wasn't connected to FIMS, I really want a better picture of how that works.

    Diana Rojek-Skonnord
    Donor Services Associate
    East Bay Community Foundation
    Oakland, CA

  • 9.  RE: Integrated Software for Foundations other than Blackbaud/FIMS

    Posted Mar 09, 2019 11:05



    There is a third-party FIMS connector to Raiser's Edge that some foundations have been using. There is communication between those products, but I believe it is a one-way connector from FIMS to Raiser's Edge. We are no longer considering making a move when Blackbaud's support for the FIMS CRM connector stops on October 1st of this year. I have been assured in writing that the connector will still function and Blackbaud will be supporting FIMS indefinitely. We're going to hire a consultant to help us with any issues that might arise with the connector itself.


    Our current thought is we will make a decision in the third quarter or early fourth quarter of this year on which post-FIMS path we're going to follow. The two choices that seem to make the most sense to us are either going with Blackbaud's fully integrated Raiser's Edge NXT/Financial Edge NXT (with the enhanced FIMS financial features they're adding later this year) or going with Foundant's CommunitySuite.


    Neither of these options is exactly what we want at the moment. They are both being built up this year into something that might be what we want. So we are looking carefully at their progress over the course of the next several months. Blackbaud has the advantage of being a much bigger company with (apparently) greater resources. They also have many add-on options we could move into as well, though most of those are pretty pricey. Blackbaud has the disadvantage (based on our experience) of having poor tech support and "improving" products in ways that have made them less useful for us.


    We've been using Foundant's Grant Life Management software for a number of years and they have been a great company to deal with. They have had very responsive support and great training options. We're still getting to know their Community Suite software. I need to be convinced that their accounting and donor portal pieces will be robust enough for what we do. A number of larger community foundations have moved to Community Suite recently, including the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. I'll be attending a Foundant event they're hosting in late May to see how things are working out for them and whether they are using any third-party applications to flesh things out.


    Even though we're planning on making a decision later this year and implementing it in 2020, if we feel neither option is really ready yet we're open to staying with things as they are for an additional year. We don't want to move to an early version of a product with a promise that things will get better soon. We would like to have whatever we move to be fully functional when we start using it.


    Keep in touch. Feel free to reach out to me at my Vermont Community Foundation email address.


    Richard Ruane