What will the Blackbaud-Convio Merger Mean?

Print Share on LinkedIn More


Gerald Bernard / Shutterstock.com

May 8, 2012; Source: The Post and Courier

One of the most significant mergers in the realm of nonprofit technology in recent years is now in the books. This week, Blackbaud and Convio began operating as one entity in the wake of a merger in which the former acquired the latter for $325 million. Blackbaud specializes in software and services that increase efficiency for nonprofit organizations, and Convio is “a leading provider of constituent engagement solutions that enable nonprofit organizations to maximize the value of every relationship,” according to its website.

Clearly, the two companies were compatible, but the finality of the merger was previously in question as the Justice Department undertook an antitrust review to make sure that the combined entity would not stifle competition in the marketplace for nonprofit technology solutions.

Blackbaud CEO Marc Chardon admitted that he was considering the possibility that Justice’s review could revoke the merger, but Blackbaud Senior Vice President of Product Management and Marketing Jana Eggers said she was “very comfortable with the feedback from our attorneys and knowing the industry that there wasn’t something there.” Nonetheless, Eggers says she is “happy it’s done.”

Will Blackbaud and Convio’s nonprofit customers be happy, too? “The first thing [customers] want to know is, ‘What’s going to happen to my product? I chose you for a reason … and I don’t want that to change,’” according to Eggers. In the short term, it doesn’t sound like much will change for those customers. Blackbaud will continue to support Convio’s products and services.

One question that remains is how “open” the newly merged entity will be. While Convio products have drawn a fair amount of praise for their interoperability with other platforms, such as Salesforce, Blackbaud has “historically had the reputation for making it difficult for third-party vendors to work on their products, and charging a lot to nonprofits simply to gain access” to some products, according to the Community IT Innovators (CITI) blog. However, Eggers told attendees of the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference that Blackbaud is revamping its strategy to be more architecturally inclusive in the future.

While the merger is certainly too fresh for observers to draw many conclusions at this point, we would be interested in hearing from Blackbaud and Convio customers in the future about what effect, if any, the merger may or may not have on your experience with the newly merged company. –Mike Keefe-Feldman

  • Hopeful Hostage

    The high-points above are spot-on in terms of Blackbaud’s enforced exclusivity, and Convio’s more open-nature.

    The cost of entry for Blackbaud solutions may be budgetable by large organizations, but the cost is high-enough to make is nearly impossible to view as “sunk cost” — at least within a decade of initial rollout. Raiser’s Edge is the classic data-held-hostage vendor, with vaporware promises left unfulfilled for real-world implementation using antiquated software solutions that are too difficult to drive.

    We’re excited by the merge with Convio, as it was our top-choice of vendor where an integrated data, constituent management (CRM), content management (CMS), and email marketing are concerned. Hopefully Blackbaud will remove their roadblocks to data connectivity (albeit a high-priced, yet impossible to use API) and allow Raiser’s Edge and Financial Edge data to connect with other applications via more open web services.

    For many on the cusp of abandonment, more freely available software solutions are a welcome glimmer of hope in an otherwise dismal and dysfunctional data management model. Hopefully Blackbaud is willing to can change it’s image as the beast that confines to the hero that frees. For those already stroking checks to Blackbaud and Convio, we’ll stay for all the right reasons and gladly pay the premium they command.

    Here’s hoping the Convio culture melds with the Blackbaud brand!

  • Marc Baizman

    I think the proof will be in the release of the product roadmap(s). I suspect that if past performance is any indicator of future performance, there will be some hard decisions made to end-of-life products that have modest installed user-bases.

    I think it behooves organizations that are investigating software options to take a look at the full universe of choices available. [LINK=www.idealware.org]Idealware[/LINK] is a great resource for help with the selection process.

    Good luck to all current and potential customers, it’s going to be an interesting ride…

  • Kim

    I will be very interested to see what happens here. We use Convio, but only because we used to use Raiser’s Edge and switched over… we hated it. We have a Mac office, and Raiser’s Edge was just causing a lot of problems on the back end. Our IT director still hates Blackbaud, and now that they’ve bought Convio we’re looking all over the place for something to replace them with too. So we’ll see, maybe there will be significant improvement… but since our Convio has to sync with ROI and that causes all kinds of problems in and of itself, I can’t see a merger with a company well known for not playing nice with other products being a good thing for our medium-sized non-profit.