Blackbaud vs. Salesforce: A Full Comparison for Nonprofits

June 12, 2024
Feature image for our blog post on Blackbaud vs. Salesforce

Choosing the right robust nonprofit software to invest in, whether you’re doing so for the first time or looking to upgrade your current solution, can be difficult. This is especially true because there are two leading providers in the nonprofit software market that offer similar tools—Blackbaud and Salesforce.

With their similar functionality and price points, combined with the pressure you feel to pick the solution that addresses your organization’s needs and fits within your budget, trying to compare Blackbaud and Salesforce on your own can quickly become overwhelming and maybe even a little confusing.

At DNL OmniMedia, we have extensive experience working with both Blackbaud and Salesforce products and helping clients choose between the two. We’ve thought through the pros and cons of both providers to offer a full comparison that will help you as you shop for the right software for your mission. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Deciding between Blackbaud and Salesforce will come down to fully understanding what your organization needs from its management software. Before you embark on the journey of choosing your tools, ensure you’ve discussed your technology needs and goals extensively with your team, leadership, and board members. Let’s begin!
Click through to contact Team DNL to help with your software decisions.

A Closer Look at Blackbaud

For many nonprofits, the Blackbaud name is a familiar one. In this section, we’ll explore everything you need to know about Blackbaud and its core solutions.

What is Blackbaud?

Screenshot of the Blackbaud website

Blackbaud is a legacy software provider, specifically serving mid-sized to enterprise-level organizations working in the social good sector, including:

  • Nonprofits
  • Foundations
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Education institutions

The company has 45,000 customers and millions of users around the globe.

Blackbaud Products to Know

Blackbaud offers a variety of solutions for nonprofits.

Specifically, it offers three constituent relationship management systems (CRMs):

  • Raiser’s Edge NXT:  Also known as RE NXT, Raiser’s Edge NXT is Blackbaud’s most popular software solution, marketed as an out-of-the-box, fully functional, and user-friendly product for mid-sized and large nonprofit organizations. It has the following features:
    • Donor management
    • Fundraising
    • Marketing
    • Reporting and analytics

Take a deeper dive by checking out our complete guide to Raiser’s Edge NXT

  • Blackbaud CRM: As Blackbaud’s largest-scale database solution, Blackbaud CRM (BBCRM) is highly customizable and best suited for enterprise-level nonprofits and healthcare organizations. It’s best for organizations working with multiple datasets and populations. Its features include:
    • Relationship cultivation
    • Fundraising
    • Multichannel marketing
    • Data analytics
    • Fundraising

Learn more by reading our full guide to Blackbaud CRM!

  • eTapestry: eTapestry is Blackbaud’s CRM solution for small and growing organizations. It is both easy to implement and easy to use, and it offers the following features:
    • Data management
    • Fundraising
    • Engagement tools

Additionally, Blackbaud offers other tools for fundraising and marketing, such as:

  • TeamRaiser, a peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising solution built for mid-sized and large organizations

Read our full TeamRaiser guide!

  • Luminate Online, a fundraising and marketing tool for organizations of all sizes

Explore our Luminate Online guide!


Blackbaud does not specify pricing for any of its platforms and encourages organizations to reach out to its team to request a quote.

As you consider how much money you want to invest in a new solution, remember that you’ll likely need to budget for licensing fees that allow initial access to the software. You may also want to budget for consulting services to manage the initial implementation process and training for your team. This will help you ensure you’re using the system to its fullest potential.

Key Strengths

Blackbaud builds its tools exclusively for nonprofits, which many organizations see as a major benefit. You can trust that your chosen Blackbaud product will cover typical nonprofit needs (such as fundraising and donor engagement) right out of the box.

This means that the software does not require third-party integrations to provide comprehensive support for nonprofit operations. However, organizations may want to invest in customization, training, and support to maximize use and get the most out of their software. While the implementation period can be relatively swift as the software is ready-made for general nonprofit use, your organization will likely want to work with a technology expert to ensure the software is built to meet your exact needs.

Available Support

Getting up and running with your new Blackbaud solution is a big task. Luckily, there are plenty of support resources available, including:

Learn more in our article about getting support with your Blackbaud products!

For more individualized support, consider partnering with a nonprofit technology consulting firm that has Blackbaud expertise, like DNL OmniMedia! Team DNL can assist you with:

  • Implementation and configuration
  • Data migrations between your existing tools and your new Blackbaud solution
  • Customization through integrations, applications, product add-ons, and more
  • Blackbaud training and documentation creation
  • Ongoing support

Click through to learn about Team DNL's Blackbaud support services!

A Closer Look at Salesforce

In this section, we’ll explore Salesforce and a few of its most popular nonprofit tools.

What is Salesforce?

Screenshot of the Salesforce website

Salesforce is also a legacy software provider. Its main focus is providing CRM software to for-profit organizations. However, it also offers robust versions of its tools for organizations like nonprofits and educational institutions, making it a formidable competitor to Blackbaud.

Salesforce has over 150,000 customers and millions of users all around the world.

Salesforce Products to Know

Salesforce offers two main CRM solutions for nonprofit organizations:

  • Nonprofit Cloud: This is Salesforce’s newest solution for nonprofits—an industry-specific Salesforce Cloud just for nonprofits (similar to other Clouds like Health Cloud or Education Cloud). It’s designed for mid-sized, large, and enterprise organizations. It’s user-friendly—but also requires more initial setup than other solutions—and is highly customizable. Some of Nonprofit Cloud’s main features include:
    • Constituent management
    • Fundraising
    • Program management
    • Outcome management
    • Case management
    • Accounting subledger

Get more information by reading our comprehensive guide to Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud!

  • Nonprofit Success Pack: The Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) is a series of packages that can be installed over the main Salesforce platform to configure it for effective nonprofit use. It is also designed for mid-sized, large, and enterprise organizations. NPSP offers out-of-the-box functionality that makes it easy for organizations to begin using it but is more challenging to integrate with additional tools. Its features include:
    • Donor management
    • Volunteer management
    • Grant management
    • Campaign management
    • Program management
    • Reporting and analytics

Dig deeper into this platform’s features by checking out our full guide to Salesforce NPSP

Nonprofits wanting a Salesforce CRM often wonder if NPSP or Nonprofit Cloud is the way to go. The main difference between the two products is how user-friendly and customizable they are. If you’re most interested in user-friendliness, NPSP may be the platform for you. If you are most excited about extensive customization opportunities, Nonprofit Cloud is likely the best pick.


Nonprofit Cloud and NPSP have similar pricing models. Through Salesforce’s Power of Us Program, you can get 10 free subscriptions to either platform, which is great news for small organizations that don’t need extensive functionality in their CRMs.

To allow more team members to access your software and tap into more extensive features, your cost will increase. The Enterprise Edition of both NPSP and Nonprofit Cloud is $60/user/month.

As with Blackbaud’s tools, you’ll also need to take into account implementation, configuration, training, integration builds, and other add-on costs when budgeting for a Salesforce purchase.

Key Strengths

If your nonprofit is seeking a constituent database with virtually no limits, NPSP and Nonprofit Cloud may be the right solutions.

Salesforce stands out for its customizability, so working with a nonprofit technology consultant, your organization can build upon NPSP or Nonprofit Cloud to create a fully customized, interconnected CRM solution that benefits your organization for years to come. This means you’re able to invest in this solution and then maintain it through growth and change, reconfiguring it to fit your exact needs rather than scaling up to another solution.  Often, nonprofits accomplish this by leveraging the many Salesforce apps available to users.

Available Support

Similar to Blackbaud, Salesforce offers several support resources for its users, including:

At DNL OmniMedia, our team is also experienced in working with clients to make the most out of their Salesforce products! Specifically, you can partner with us to tap into the following services:

  • NPSP and Salesforce Cloud implementation
  • Data migration from existing tools to your chosen Salesforce solution
  • Customization through integration builds, Salesforce app configuration, and more
  • Salesforce training and documentation creation
  • Ongoing support

Click through to learn more about Team DNL's Salesforce support services.

Blackbaud vs. Salesforce: A Side by Side Comparison

To summarize all the information covered above, check out this infographic for a comprehensive, side-by-side comparison of Blackbaud and Salesforce:

The image sums up the text above, providing an overview of the comparison of Blackbaud vs. Salesforce.

6 Tips for Choosing the Right Software For Your Nonprofit

Familiarizing yourself with the different software options available through Blackbaud and Salesforce is an excellent first step toward making the right selection for your organization. Here are a few additional tips to help you in your decision-making process:

This image and the text below give some tips for making your own software provider decision.

  1. Assess your needs and budget.  Working with your organization’s staff and board members, consider the features you’re looking for in a software platform and what you can afford without stretching your organization too thin. Keep in mind that you can always expand your chosen software’s functionality or upgrade to a different tool as your organization grows and its needs shift.
  2. Seek recommendations from trusted colleagues. While reading guides like this and exploring different software review sites are a great place to start when choosing a software provider, you should also ask your nonprofit colleagues for recommendations. Getting a candid review from someone you know and trust, especially at an organization similar to your own, can be invaluable during your software search.
  3. Evaluate the support and training available. As noted above, both Blackbaud and Salesforce offer a variety of support resources. As you consider their respective tools, also consider whether you’re confident you will have enough support to make the most out of the platforms. If you anticipate needing more help than what is typically offered, you may want to speak to the provider about how they can supplement their typical resources or seek out a technology specialist who can help.
  4. Consider integration and customization capabilities. Some organizations prefer to use a solution’s out-of-the-box functionality to quickly get up and running and see results from their investment. Others want a more tailored experience from their software. Look into the tools on your shortlist and assess their integration and customization capabilities, including potential costs and whether you’ll need external support to tap into those capabilities.
  5. Take scalability into account. Your organization may be okay with the fact that you’ll one day need to upgrade your technology when your nonprofit grows and your needs expand. If not, you’ll want to go with a solution that can grow along with you.
  6. Work with a nonprofit technology specialist. Whether you’re opting for a fairly simple software product or you want to invest in the most customizable platform and make it all your own, you can benefit from working with a nonprofit technology specialist, like the experts at DNL OmniMedia. Having a professional guiding your software implementation journey can help you avoid adoption pitfalls and ensure that you’re making the most of your investment right from the start.

Both Salesforce and Blackbaud offer solutions that can serve your organization well if you know how to use them effectively. Work with your team to determine your technology needs and compare the two providers. Also, don’t be afraid to seek assistance from a qualified nonprofit technology consulting firm, like DNL OmniMedia. Our team can help you smooth out your strategy and get the most out of your technology stack.

Want to keep reading? Check out these recommended resources:

Click through to contact Team DNL and get assistance choosing between Salesforce and Blackbaud.

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