Blackbaud Grantmaking: Examining the Past, the Present, and the Future

If you are a grantmaker, you know how important it is to have a reliable and efficient software system that can help you manage your grants, track your impact, and collaborate with your stakeholders. You probably also know that the world of philanthropy is changing rapidly, and your software needs to keep up with the new challenges and opportunities that arise.

Over the past 30 years, Blackbaud Grantmaking™ has been serving foundations and nonprofit grantmakers with software that continues to evolve with you.

Examining The Past: History and Timeline of Blackbaud Grantmaking

Believe it or not, what we know as Blackbaud Grantmaking has been around since the 1990s in one form or another. MicroEdge was established back in 1985 and released their Grants Management Software “GIFTS Online” in 2009. Blackbaud acquired MicroEdge and inherited what we now know as Blackbaud Grantmaking in 2014.

As a trail blazer in the social impact space, Blackbaud had already been serving a wide array of nonprofit and public sector organizations. It was now looking to expand their services even further to help solve the pain points of grantmakers. Since MicroEdge was acquired, there have been a wide array of changes to the product interface and functionality to keep up with the needs of modern grantmakers.

In 2020 Blackbaud Grantmaking made the full transition to Blackbaud SKY. Blackbaud SKY is an integrated open cloud platform uniquely built for the social impact community that many other innovative Blackbaud solutions run on, including Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT and Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT.

With Blackbaud SKY came a streamlined, modern user interface and an integrated experience, bringing together Blackbaud solutions, best-in-class third party solutions, and the Blackbaud Partner Network. This also meant making it easier for Blackbaud to deliver innovative product enhancements on an accelerated schedule and give customers access to industry-leading cloud services to ensure their data is backed up and secure. At this point, Blackbaud’s vision of a fully integrated suite of products built for nonprofits, educational institutions, hospitals, foundations, and other social impact organizations was well on its way.

Flash Forward to the Present: Onwards and Upwards

Since Blackbaud Grantmaking transitioned to SKY view, Blackbaud has continued to prioritize constant improvements and modifications to provide a completely configurable GMS that can be built around an organization’s unique processes and workflows. It is a system that is intuitive enough for the average user to use but can also be modified easily without intervention from developers or needing to call Blackbaud’s support every time a change is needed.

We’ve heard from customers that Blackbaud Grantmaking has already saved them hours of time so they can focus on what’s important—their mission. Some of the latest updates we are excited about include new document management capabilities, new ways to delete data in bulk, a completely reimagined applicant-centric portal, and the introduction of SKY API®.

The art of organizing: From chaos to clarity

Through taking part in discovery calls with grantmakers, we have found that administrative tasks like managing documents and dealing with large amounts of data is a huge time suck for their organizations. Grantmakers were dealing with cluttered files full of documents that they had to constantly re-download to view or make changes to. That is why we are making it possible to view and edit Microsoft documents directly within Blackbaud Grantmaking. What’s more, these documents are tied directly to your contact records, so your staff members can have everything they need at your fingertips.

Delete with purpose: time to declutter

In addition to the sheer volume of items to keep organized, we found that international customers had a developing need to remove data after a certain period to respect local privacy laws. We knew we needed to make it easier to manage large data sets so we added new options that make it easier to delete request and contact records in bulk. We also added new search fields, including “Declination date” and “Contact last updated” to help further narrow your results

Empower applicants and grantees while saving time internally

Our fresh applicant and grantee experience will bring with it exciting new updates in three different areas:

1. New ways of managing submitted applications

We are hoping to save grantmakers even more time by providing intuitive search capabilities and the ability to manipulate columns to easily find what you are looking for and stay organized.

2. A reimagined applicant-centric portal

Filling out grant applications can be an all-consuming process for individuals and nonprofits that are seeking funding, and as a grantmaker you play a big role in making that experience as smooth as possible for prospective grantees. The amount of care you put into crafting an equitable application process will directly influence your ability to create and cultivate positive relationships with your grantees. Not only will it save your applicants tons of time, but your grant staff can also expect to receive higher quality and error-free applications in return. It’s a win win! This is why we have optimized the applicant portal to save applicants time by making it easier than ever for applicants to submit an application and track its status.

Thinking beyond the exciting new pieces of functionality, one prominent shift is that with the introduction of this new applicant portal we have also added Blackbaud Grantmaking to the list of Blackbaud solutions that utilizes Blackbaud ID. This means that organizations can sign in using one login for all their Blackbaud solutions and view every application that was submitted using a Blackbaud solution in one place.

3. A streamlined form builder

We have reduced the time it takes to build a single application form and the number of forms needed by introducing conditional logic. It is even easier to manage version controls and format your form, so it is not only visually appealing, but also just makes sense. For our global audience, we have introduced form translation capabilities that can translate forms into 30 different languages, including French, Spanish, and Welsh just to name a few!

Expand what’s possible with integrations and partners

SKY APIs are industry-standard REST APIs that make it much easier to amplify the power of Blackbaud Grantmaking™ allowing customers to integrate and extend the product’s capabilities with other solutions in their grantmaking ecosystem. Endpoints for Payments and Organizations are already available today, with more exciting news to roll out through to the end of the year. Stay tuned!

The Future Is Bright: Where We are Headed Next

Looking to the future, we are constantly keeping an eye out for new AI use cases for grantmakers that can help solve real and meaningful challenges. Remember that amidst all the hype around AI, Blackbaud has been incorporating AI into its products for many years. For example, our Data Intelligence portfolio already allows our customers to tap into billions of dollars of unrealized revenue. As a leader in essential software for social impact, Blackbaud’s Intelligence for Good® strategy acts as our framework to ensure that we create AI that is accessible, powerful, and trustworthy.

With the introduction of SKY API and new endpoints being added on a rolling basis through until the end of the year, we will be heavily focused on building more out-of-the-box integrations and adding partners to the Blackbaud Marketplace.  Some of our most highly requested integrations include a deeper connection between Blackbaud Grantmaking™ and Financial Edge NXT™, DocuSign, and Microsoft Power BI.

Is there anything you would like to provide feedback on? A use case that you feel could be made more powerful or productive through new functionality or AI? Stay up to date with the latest product enhancements and provide feedback to our product team by joining Blackbaud Grantmaking’s community group and don’t forget to register for our Product Update Briefings!