Raiser's Edge is a popular fundraising solution for nonprofits of all shapes and sizes. While this phenomenal software can help your organization do a lot, in order to get the most from Raiser's Edge, you should seek out dedicated training to ensure your entire staff is confident using the platform.
Lucky for you, there are plenty of Raiser's Edge training options out there; you just have to know where to look!
To make the search for the best training a little easier, we've put together our favorite Raiser's Edge training resources, broken out into 3 distinct categories:
- Raiser's Edge Training Consultants.
- Blackbaud Raiser's Edge Training Courses.
- Free Online Raiser's Edge Resources.
Don't worry—we'll give you the inside scoop on how to utilize these resources and where to find them.
Not quite ready for training? Learn the basics of Raiser's Edge and decide if it's the best fundraising software for you by reading our Before-You-Buy Guide to Raiser's Edge.
Now, let's dive in!
1. Raiser's Edge Training Consultants.
If you need a thorough walkthrough of how to use Raiser's Edge to its fullest potential (and if you're new to the system, we bet that you do!), there's no better resource than a highly trained Raiser's Edge professional—a nonprofit technology consultant.
Nonprofit consultants with Blackbaud (and Raiser's Edge-specific) expertise can do more than just introduce you to the platform and answer one-off questions; they can take you through a personalized tour of the software, showing you how to customize its features to best fit your fundraising strategy and implement those configurations to optimum success.
There are a lot of Raiser's Edge experts out there, so let's discuss who's really the best of the best.
Top Raiser's Edge Training Consultant: DNL OmniMedia
With experience in a variety of Blackbaud software solutions, DNL OmniMedia can design a foolproof training strategy to have you on your feet in Raiser's Edge in no time.
Unlike with Blackbaud training, a nonprofit consultant like DNL can completely personalize your training experience. That means you'll be able to set the agenda for every aspect of the training program, decide which role-based paths are needed at your organization, and lay out a timeline that works for you.
At DNL, we understand that Raiser's Edge is just one part of your nonprofit fundraising strategy, so we can assist with training in conjunction with:
- Integrating other Blackbaud or third-party software.
- Designing custom configurations that match your fundraising strategy.
- Migrating data to Raiser's Edge (including data clean-up and maintenance help).
- Mapping out a strategy for using your software.
Just look at our services page to get a bigger picture of how we can help your organization thrive.
What's more, DNL can actually help you implement the strategies you learn about, increasing your fundraising potential through the power of Raiser's Edge.
Other Raiser's Edge Training Consultants
Aside from DNL, there are a number of other qualified third-party consultants who can design a Raiser's Edge training plan for your nonprofit.
The consulting firm you choose should depend on how your specific needs line up with their specialities. You'll need to do some independent research (as well as an assessment of your own training goals) to find the right fit, but here are a few firms to consider:
- Sargent Solutions. As a team of Blackbaud-specific consultants, Sargent Solutions offers one-to-one or one-to-many employee training on Raiser's Edge (as well as Financial Edge, Education Edge, NetCommunity, and more). They can map out a comprehensive training plan that educates you from square one, assist on specific projects, or offer remote or onsite support.
- Lauren Schler Consulting. With expertise in general consulting, database optimization and redesign, database audits, custom report building, and more, Lauren Schler can help your organization understand Raiser's Edge in an in-depth, personalized way. Plus, Lauren can serve as a temporary or long-term database administrator for your Raiser's Edge system if needed.
- Zeidman Development. If you work with Zeidman Development, your Raiser's Edge training will start with a database "health check" to determine what kind of training would be most useful for your organization. On top of education, Zeidman can also provide migration and integration help to ensure that your nonprofit has maximized its Raisers Edge potential.
As you're considering which consulting firm to go with, you'll need to be aware of your budget as well as other important considerations, such as your training timeline, configuration and customization needs, and long-term Raiser's Edge goals.
The best consultants will be able to adapt their curriculum and services to totally fit your needs on a holistic level, not just offer a handful of classes.
2. Blackbaud Raiser's Edge Training Courses
Blackbaud offers distinct training classes designed for both Raiser's Edge and Raiser's Edge NXT as part of Blackbaud University.
While you can register for single classes, to obtain the most comprehensive, sequential training experience, Blackbaud recommends enrolling in their Learn subscription, which offers different levels of classes based on skill level.
You can check out the Raiser's Edge or Raiser's Edge NXT training datasheets to get a total rundown of what the programs offer, but let's break down the most important aspects of what your nonprofit can learn at each subscription level—Learn Basics, Learn More, and Learn Everything.
Learn the Raiser's Edge Basics
Included as part of your Raiser's Edge or Raiser's Edge NXT software purchase, Learn Basics can instruct your team on the essentials of your new platform.
All Learn Basics classes are on-demand eLearning video courses, meaning they are not taught by instructors or personalized to your organization.
However, the advantage of these courses (in addition to being included in your base software price, of course) is that they're one of the most convenient Raiser's Edge training options. Your staff can watch these videos on their own time, as many times as they need.
Here's a sampling of the kinds of Raiser's Edge classes offered with Learn Basics:
- Raiser's Edge (or Raiser's Edge NXT) Overview
- Basics of Constituent Records
- Basics of Gifts
- Basics of Query
- Basics of Data Extraction
- Basics of Sky Reporting
While not comprehensive enough to provide truly in-depth training, the Learn Basics courses can be a valuable introduction to the platform, a helpful supplement to the rest of your training, or a refresher course for staff who've already been trained and have occassional questions.
Learn More About Raiser's Edge
As part of the intermediate training package, your organization will have access to the full library of eLearning video classes as well as more advanced Fundamentals classes taught by Blackbaud University instructors.
The Fundamentals level courses expand on what's covered in the Basics curriculum and give your team a more hands-on experience training with a Blackbaud team member online or onsite.
Even better, these classes qualify for Blackbaud certification! With each Learn More subscription, your team gains access to the Raiser's Edge Fundamentals Exam as well as specific Badge Exams, such as Gift Managment or Marketing and Communications. (Note: the Fundamentals certification is required to move forward with Functional or Outcome-Based certifications.)
Here's a glimpse of the kinds of instructor-led courses that are offered through the Learn More level:
- Raiser's Edge Mailing Management
- Raiser's Edge Data Analysis and Crystal Reporting
- Raiser's Edge Database Administration, Import, and Maintenance
- Raiser's Edge Volunteer and Membership Management
For organizations who want to learn how to optimize their Raiser's Edge experience beyond everyday use, the Learn More subscription is vital. Without it, your team will only have a rudimentary understanding of the platform, which typically isn't enough for long-term success.
Learn Everything About Raiser's Edge
The most inclusive Learn subscription level, Learn Everyhing offers eLearning videos and online or onsite instructor-led courses as well as regional classes, solution workshops, and nonprofit workshops.
Let's go over what these Raiser's Edge training classes entail:
- Regional Classes are single or multi-day group classes taught across the United States in Blackbaud regional classrooms. Each course has a pre-determined topic and comprises various interactive sessions. For certification classes, the regional workshop also provides the opportunity to take an onsite Certification Exam at the end of the course.
- Solution Workshops are product specific classes that explore the relationship between strategy and software. For Raiser's Edge, Blackbaud currently lists two Solution Workshops—constituents and gifts. In these classes, your team will work with an instructor onsite or online to identify best practices, establish software procedures for your organization, and discuss opportunities for growth as an organization.
- Nonprofit Workshops, while not specific to Raiser's Edge, cover general nonprofit strategies and best practices. These interactive online or onsite instructor-led courses are built to inspire conversation among your staff and help you develop successful long-term plans for fundraising, donor engagement, communications, operations, and more.
As you can see, the Learn Everything subscription plan is by far the best option if your team needs robust, end-to-end training. But remember: only the Learn Basics plan is included in your software price, so you'll need to consider how additional training fits into your budget.
If the on-demand Basics training options aren't enough to fully train your team, start considering if you want to explore Blackbaud's higher levels of training or seek out a third-party training program. While either can be a viable option, it's important to determine the best path for your organization so that you receive the most comprehensive, strategic training at a budget- and timeline-friendly rate.
3. Free Online Raiser's Edge Training Resources
Lastly, for supplementary Raiser's Edge training, your organization can check out any of the myriad free resources available online.
Here are just a few Blackbaud resources to read through if you need help with specific Raiser's Edge questions or concerns:
- The Blackbaud Community. With blogs, user forums, and much more, the Blackbaud community is a great place to search for answers to common questions or problems with your Raiser's Edge platform. There are even dedicated Raiser's Edge product forums and community resources!
- Raiser's Edge Assistance and Resources. Knowing that you'd have questions, Blackbaud put together a home base for all of your Raiser's Edge training and support needs. Here, you'll find how-to guides, help and best practices, and links to all available training resources. While this page refers to Raiser's Edge NXT, the newest version of Raiser's Edge, there are similar pages for Raiser's Edge 7 and Raiser's Edge Enterprise.
- Raiser's Edge and Luminate Online Integration Guide. If your nonprofit also uses Blackbaud's Luminate Online Marketing platform, Blackbaud has put together free online resources to help you integrate the two systems. (Not using Luminate? Check out our guide to find out if you should be!)
There are also a number of third-party resources, including implementation or integration guides, how-to's, and user forums. Be careful that while user input can be highly valuable, it's also not always reliable. That's why you should always seek out help from your vendor or a trusted Blackbaud partner with proven experience to fully train your staff.
While online training resources can be good to have on hand for reference, in order to get the most personalized and comprehensive training experience, you should work with a nonprofit technology consultant who can outline a training plan that will teach you how to get the most from your Raiser's Edge platform.
And there you have it! With these training resources on your side, you'll be a Raiser's Edge afficionado in no time.
For more help with your software, check out these resources from our team of Blackbaud experts:
- Raiser's Edge: The Buyer's Guide. Learn absolutely everything you need to know before you make the move to Raiser's Edge by checking out our in-depth before-you-buy guide!
- 5 Tips for Successful TeamRaiser Configurations. If you're using Blackbaud's powerful peer-to-peer platform to raise funds at your nonprofit, you'll need to know how to customize your platform. Read our top tips to find out how to configure TeamRaiser for optimum fundraising success.
- Blackbaud CRM: 5 Essentials to Know Before Implementation. For large organizations who need a little more power than Raiser's Edge can offer, Blackbaud CRM can offer robust constituent management tools. Read this article before deciding if Blackbaud CRM is right for you.