You there?
      Since nothing's happened for a while, you'll be signed out to protect your data.

      Latest News

      Millennials Are Causing Change With Social Responsibility – Forbes

      Article originally published on by contributing writer Wes Gay on August 11, 2017

      Millennials are an idealistic, altruistic generation.

      This generation is passionate about social causes that benefit the greater good, whether it’s a nonprofit charity or an altruistic company like TOMS. One recent study found the average millennial gives nearly $600 per year to charitable causes. While this is lower than older generations, millennials are battling student loan debt, stagnant salaries, and a rising cost of living.

      As a whole, millennials tend to be generous with their time, money, and influence. They freely use their social media platforms to raise awareness and money for causes important to them. The nonprofit charity: water, for example, found fundraising success by enabling people to use social media outlets to raise money.

      How do these trends impact the modern workplace? I’ve written beforeon the topic of volunteering programs in companies. Many of the top companies in the world create dynamic programs designed to engage millennials’ desire to do good in the world.

      As corporate social responsibility programs expand, they are experiencing an interesting shift. Instead of focusing on the company, brands are now shifting the focus onto the individuals within the company. In other words, company executives are taking the lead from their employees when it comes to building and expanding a social responsibility program.

      Focus on the individual

      “People bring their whole selves to work,” says Rachel Hutchisson, vice president of corporate citizenship & philanthropy at Blackbaud, a leading technology company that provides solutions to the philanthropic community. She is responsible for expanding the corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts of its 3,000 associates, which drives her to survey the changing landscape of CSR.

      Hutchisson senses a shift away from focusing on companies, instead highlighting the unique values of the individual. “Companies following this trend are beginning to look beyond their corporate imperatives with the understanding that their employees’ purpose — and their community’s social good needs — play into CSR.”

      This concept is especially poignant among millennials. As the largest and most targeted generation in history, millennials place a high value on being seen as individuals. Many millennials are increasingly frustrated with the sweeping generalizations made online and at work. Companies who want a CSR program that engages this generation will start by asking what they value most in terms of service and giving back.

      Don’t build around company pillars

      Some companies build programs around specific causes supported by the company. They may limit their employees to support or contribute to those organizations, restricting the opportunity for employees to donate to causes passionate to them.

      On the surface, this seems like a good idea. Companies support causes and even match donations as part of an overall brand message. But that mistakenly presumes charitable decisions are transactional, not personal.

      “A company driven by the values of their employees would, instead, take a very open approach, allowing the individual to choose what cause matters,” notes Hutchisson. “The belief that philanthropy is personal is at the heart of an employee-centric approach to CSR.”

      Tell stories often

      Every day I help companies discover clarity in their marketing by using the principles of storytelling. People are captivated by a compelling story, whether it’s in a movie, marketing, or a company program.

      Sharing stories of success is a critical way companies can increase the buy-in and overall effectiveness of social responsibility programs. “Companies should understand that there is rarely anything more motivating than for their people to hear about what peers are accomplishing,” notes Hutchisson. “Telling stories of one’s own people builds pride in the brand.”

      Companies also need to share the stories of the impact created by their work. Hutchisson recommends using the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals to show how their work makes a lasting impact.

      Let data drive decisions

      Companies are accustomed to reviewing data for things like marketing campaigns, sales strategies, and corporate initiatives to ensure they achieve key objectives and help increase revenue. Reviewing data to make better decisions also involves millennials and corporate responsibility.

      “Social responsibility and HR should work together using data gained from engagement and volunteerism surveys — to determine what programs are most compelling for each audience,” says Hutchisson.

      In the race to find and keep the best millennial talent, companies look for strategic advantages in order to win. Regular evaluation of the data enables companies to improve with recruitment and retention, allowing them to make the company better by keeping people who take pride in the brand.

      2017 Review of Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT Nonprofit Accounting Software

      2017 Rating: 5 Stars

      Financial Edge NXT from Blackbaud is best suited for mid-sized nonprofit organizations as well as government entities and NGO’s. Financial Edge is a 100 percent cloud-based application that can also be used from a smart phone or tablet.

      Financial Edge NXT offers a completely custom account structure, so users can create the chart of accounts that best suits their needs. Users can use the default structure or add additional segments as desired, with the ability to adjust segment length if desired. The default chart of accounts requires the use of two segments, but can handle up to ten segments in total, with a total length of 30 characters.

      Financial Edge handles a variety of transaction types, including all GL related activity including journal entries, AP and AR management, project, and grant and endowment management, consolidation management. Users can also create recurring invoices, process credit memos, create invoices, post charges, payments, and donations, and process purchase orders.

      Financial Edge NXT offers a standard Budget Management module, along with Advanced Budget Management. Users can create current year budgets, as well as budgets for any fiscal year. Users can also create multi-year future budgets, and users can easily lock created budgets to avoid any changes. Budgets can be created using multiple methods, including regular data entry, equal distribution across budget periods, or distributing budget totals by percentage. Users can also easily copy budgets from one year to another, making edits as needed. The Advanced Budget Management module offers additional budgeting capabilities such as the ability to create cross-fiscal year budgets. The product also offers the ability to create what-if scenarios when data is entered, to see how any transaction can affect the budget.

      Donation tracking can be handled through Blackbaud’s Raisers Edge donor management module. Available separately from Financial Edge NXT, Raisers Edge integrates with Financial Edge, allowing nonprofits to easily manage all donor activities including donations, campaigns, gift and pledge tracking, and even wealth screen activities.

      Financial Edge NXT offers Project, Grant and Endowment Management, allowing users to easily track all grant or project related activity at a separate level. Users can also create budgets at the program level, and can easily access fund balances for each project or grant. The application also contains self-balancing fund capability to ensure that all funds remain balanced. An Allocation Management module handles both direct and indirect allocations as well as reallocations.

      Financial Edge NXT offers multi-level security, with administrators able to assign system access by group or by individual, with security access assigned to individual projects, accounts and even reports.

      Financial Edge NXT offers users excellent reporting capabilities, with a variety of report templates included in the product. All reports are customizable, and the product offers additional reporting tools such as pivot reports, dashboards, and the visual chart organizer. Financial Edge NXT also offers excellent financial reporting, with the ability to create consolidated reports that cross a variety of funds. Users can opt to use Crystal Reports to create from-scratch custom reports if desired. Financial Edge NXT also creates nonprofit specific reports including FASB 117 and GASB 34. All reports can be exported to Microsoft Excel and Word or saved as a PDF.

      Financial Edge NXT offers an extensive selection of completely integrated modules which include GL, Project, Grant & Endowment Management, Budget Management, Reports, Allocation Management, Consolidation Management, Fixed Assets, Advanced Budget Management, F9 Reporting, AP, AR, Accounting Queue, WebInvoicing and Web Purchasing, Accounting Forms, Payroll, Point of Sale, Cash Management, Cash Receipts, and Purchase Orders. Application Programming Interface (API) capability is available in Financial Edge NXT as well, boosting the product’s capability to integrate with a variety of third-party applications. In addition, integration with other Blackbaud applications extends system functionality considerably.

      The Blackbaud Support website offers a variety of support tools including access to the Blackbaud Knowledgebase, How-To Documentation, the Blackbaud Community, which is a user’s forum, and FAQ’s. Users can also download any software upgrades from the Blackbaud website, as well as manage any current subscriptions. The Contact Us option provides users with a quick way to access product support, along with chat or tweet support options. A toll-free number is available to access support during regular business hours. A variety of tutorials are available for users to access, and both eLearning and onsite training options are available, as are on-demand videos and online classes

      Financial Edge NXT from Blackbaud is optimally designed for mid-sized nonprofit organizations and government entities. A scalable, completely integrated product, integration with a variety of Blackbaud tools and applications increased program functionality considerably. Those interested in Financial Edge NXT should request a product demo and follow-up with Blackbaud to obtain a custom quote for their organization.

      2017 Rating: 5 Stars

      Article originally published by CPA Practice Advisor on July 20, 2017

      45 hospital and healthcare executives outline the hospital of the future

      One hundred years from now, hospitals will be nearly unrecognizable as care moves to the outpatient setting and organizations integrate artificial intelligence, telemedicine and other IT applications to care for patients outside the walls of their institution.

      Forty-five healthcare executives, including five from hospital C-suites, describe the key trends disrupting the traditional hospital and how institutions can prepare for the future. Regardless of perspective, the key trends arising in their responses time and again include:

      • Reserving hospitals for truly acute care patients
      • Monitoring patients at home with telemedicine applications
      • Retail clinics and the rise of consumerism
      • Designing the process for enhanced patient experience
      • Collaboration between all stakeholders to improve health

      Here is what 45 healthcare executives had to say about the hospital of the future. Responses are organized by category — hospital CEOs and executives, physicians, health IT leaders, consultants and healthcare firms and organizations — and in alphabetical order within each category.

      Health IT leaders

      President of Blackbaud Healthcare (Charleston, S.C.): “The hospital of the future is a place that is completely designed around the individual and the preferences of healthcare consumers. Successful healthcare organizations of the future will tailor service delivery models, patient engagement, brand strategies and philanthropic support efforts based on prescriptive and predictive analytics that tell them who key consumers and supporters are as well as how to reach them and how to keep them engaged. This focus on the individual creates an environment that coincides with the individual needs and behaviors of potential consumers, current patients and donors. Healthcare organizations that thrive will know everything about their market — not only as an aggregate group but down to the individual as well.

      Understanding all social, demographic, geographic and behavioral risk factors round out the complete picture of buying preferences and overall health. The hospitals of the future will capitalize on this information and create targeted engagement strategies that maximize these consumer analytics on an ongoing basis.”

      Excerpt originally featured in an article written by Laura Dyrda and published by Becker’s Hospital Review on July 17, 2017. Read the full article at

      Donations Grew 1.4% to $390 Billion in 2016, Says ‘Giving USA’

      Environmental and conservation causes, the arts, and international aid were among the strongest draws for donor dollars last year, according to the latest “Giving USA” review.

      Charitable giving hit a record high for the third straight year in 2016, reaching $390.1 billion, according to “Giving USA,” an annual study that estimates American philanthropy. However, donations rose at a slower rate than in recent years — 1.4 percent — as key economic indicators grew modestly and a divisive election season sowed uncertainty.

      Giving from living individuals, which for years has made up more than 70 percent of donations, rose to $281.9 billion, a 2.6 increase from 2015. That growth rate, though modest compared to recent years, helped offset a 10 percent loss in giving from bequests, which totaled $30.4 billion last year.

      Foundation and corporate giving saw modest gains, with each increasing by a little more than 2 percent, to $59.3 billion and $18.6 billion, respectively.

      Giving by foundations is the highest it’s been, according to the report, even after adjusting for inflation, but companies have yet to reach a prerecession high of $18.7 billion in donations, set in 2005. That might be explained by a shift in thinking about corporate philanthropy, said Una Osili, director of research at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which conducted the study for the Giving Institute.

      In their philanthropy plans, some companies have focused more heavily on sponsorships, cause marketing, and volunteering opportunities for employees, which aren’t captured in “Giving USA” data, Ms. Osili said.

      Slow Growth

      Giving appears to have been affected by slower growth in key metrics like disposable income and personal consumption that are closely linked to philanthropy. Stock-market performance was strong in the final weeks of 2016, but market results were more mixed the rest of the year, which may have also reined in donors.

      Last year “didn’t look like such a robust year” for economic measures tied to giving, Ms. Osili said.

      Political and economic uncertainly may have also influenced giving in a year marked by a raucous U.S. election campaign and disruptive world events like Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Still, Ms. Osili said it’s hard to know exactly what impact the elections or any one event had on giving.

      Total giving represented 2.1 percent of gross domestic product last year, the same proportion as the previous two years but slightly above the 1.9 percent average for the past 40 years.

      The overall growth rate in “Giving USA” is close to a February 2017 estimate by fundraising-software company Blackbaud, which reported that giving grew 1 percent last year.

      Read the full article

      Giving USA Reports On 2016 Giving

      Originally appeared in The AgitatorTom Beldford

      Giving USA has released its annual study on giving, reporting that for 2016 all giving rose to $390.1 billion, or 1.4% over 2015 (inflation adjusted). That represents 2.1% of gross domestic product, slightly above the 1.9% average of the past 40 years. Here’s the giving by source:

      And here’s the giving by sector:

      I have to believe the strong growth for environment and animal welfare is ‘thanks’ to Donald Trump’s emergence as a genuine contender and eventual election last year (seems so long ago!).

      I note that giving from ‘living individuals’ rose 2.6% over 2015, while giving from bequests declined 10%. What happened to that giant wealth transfer fundraisers were expecting?

      Longer living Seniors and Boomers? I can see that possibly delaying bequests. But a 10% decline? I suspect fundraisers simply aren’t giving sufficient focus to planned giving. Recall last week I reported the Bloomerang finding that only 28% of the 600 nonprofits they surveyed made donors aware in the previous quarter of planned giving opportunities.

      Time to rethink your commitment to soliciting bequests?


      P.S. Giving USA is a project of The Giving Institute and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Blackbaud’s Steve MacLaughlin describes the annual report in this video. And you can order here, including a free executive summary.

      Read the full article

      How to Build a Stronger Nonprofit Marketing Plan to Reach More Donors

      Originally appeared on Software Advice; Andrew Friedenthal

      Andrew Friedenthal, market analyst for the technology reviews company Software Advice: “I’m relatively new to writing about the nonprofit field, so I needed to talk to an expert in order to create this article about nonprofit marketing. That’s where Blackbaud and Catherine LaCour came in. As a major vendor in the field of charity-focused software, Blackbaud is an amazing resource for nonprofit workers, with an emphasis on seeing that their software contributes to the larger social good. As the head of the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact, an initiative that sets Blackbuad apart from other similar vendors, Catherine was able to speak to the specific challenges faced by nonprofit marketing teams. Her insight was crucial for helping me understand how marketing functions in the charitable world, and how much it relies on telling potential donors about a nonprofits’ success stories (how money raised goes to doing good in the world). This was an important piece of advice for the article that helped shape and strengthen its final form.”


      Most people working in the nonprofit field aren’t in it for the money. Instead, they’ve given their time and energy over to helping make the world a better place.

      Unfortunately, changing the world doesn’t come cheap.

      That’s why nonprofit organizations need to be able to raise money from donors, so that they can keep their doors open and continue their charitable missions.

      That’s easier said than done, though. It takes careful planning, a clearly defined mission and the ability to make the case for your cause to a wide variety of people.

      Oh, and it requires one more thing—marketing. Many nonprofits don’t have the ability to hire a professional marketing department, though, and may find the task to be difficult or overwhelming.

      Marketing ain’t easy
      This article will help lighten that burden by giving you tips on how to create a solid nonprofit marketing plan that will earn your organization more donors.

      Tell Your Story

      The key to successful marketing is the art of storytelling. The most successful brands in the world all have a story inherently associated with them—Apple represents a story of progress and innovation, Disney is a story of family entertainment, Nike a story of athletic achievement etc.

      Fortunately for nonprofits, this is one place where they actually have an advantage over for-profit businesses. Even the most die-hard fans of Apple, Disney and Nike recognize that the companies are in business to make money.

      Nonprofits are in the business of doing good in the world, and can tell a story that will resonate with potential donors on a deep, emotional level.

      Catherine LaCour, senior vice president of marketing at charity-focused software vendor Blackbaud and head of the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact, advises that you:

      “Inspire your audience through stories of your mission in action—tell them about the child who didn’t go hungry because s/he got a meal, the person who had a bed to sleep in for a night, the patient who received life-saving care, etc.”


      You can then use these stories to raise money from donors: “Stories will connect potential donors with your mission,” she says. “They will clearly show how the money and their efforts, are being used to make that impact.”

      It’s much easier to ask for money when you can demonstrate, through storytelling, how that money will be put to use to better the world.

      According to Brian Sooy, president of marketing strategy company Aespire, when reaching out to a potential donor you need to consider “that person, the change you’re asking them to make and the promise you’re making to them.”

      “Inspire them, engage them, give them a story worth sharing,” he says. “Tell them why you need them to be part of the solution, and be grateful when they are.”



       However, Trey Gordner, founder of digital marketing firm Koios, warns that you also need to tailor that story to multiple audiences: “Most nonprofits have at least three audiences: program participants, donors and volunteers.”

      “Each of them are coming to your organization for a different reason,” he says. “It’s important to understand how people find out about you, what they want to know about you and what would prompt them to get involved.”

      Of course, once you’ve crafted your story, you need to think about the next step—where to tell it.

      Master Social Media and Analytics

      The biggest marketing challenge faced by nonprofits is a lack of resources. Fortunately, in today’s world, successful marketing doesn’t require you to buy an ad during the Super Bowl. Even the smallest nonprofit has free access to Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.

      Indeed, according to LaCour, “With social media, everyone has the chance to potentially go viral—no matter their size.”

      Sharing your story via social media gives you an opportunity to go as viral as much as bigger organizations.

      However, a social media strategy alone doesn’t give you the necessary insight to further refine your story and reach out to your specific target audiences. For that, you need to analyze your data, a task that you may need inexpensive marketing software to help you accomplish.



      As LaCour notes, “Data shapes our world, how we perceive it, and the way we interact with it. Data connects us all. That’s why it’s more important than ever that nonprofits use smart data to better engage with their supporters.”

      You need to be able to analyze your data to know what kinds of social media posts and email communications are successfully resonating with your audiences and donors.

      However, this doesn’t require a huge investment of time or money, and can allow you to refine your marketing campaigns in a way that makes a significant impact on your donations.

      Nonprofits need to utilize tactics like this, which enable them to do more with less. Fortunately, the digital era makes that easier than ever.

      Don’t Be Intimidated by Limited Resources

      There are certain forms of marketing (such as inbound content marketing) that require a dedicated team or department. On a small budget, and without a marketing department, you aren’t going to be able to successfully accomplish these types of campaigns.

      However, there are ways for nonprofits to succeed despite having limited money and few marketing resources. Let’s look at the common sources of intimidation for nonprofits:

      Lack of money: Although you may not have a lot of money to spend on advertising, many companies provide free or cheap opportunities for nonprofits to get their message out.

      As Trey Gordner notes, “The most generous of these is Google Ad Grants. Google provides $10,000 per month of in-kind advertising to 501(c)(3) organizations. That’s more than all but the biggest businesses spend, and you can use it to pop up as the first result for almost any search you want.”

      No marketing department: Just because you don’t have a department full of content creators doesn’t mean that you can’t create simple marketing campaigns that engage donors. In addition to social media, you should have a regular email newsletter that will engage readers without constantly begging for money.

      Ed Brancheau, CEO of Goozleology Digital Marketing, recommends “focusing on getting site visitors to sign up for newsletters or events. Don’t ask them for donations right away. Generally, every newsletter subscriber is worth $17 per year when done correctly.”


      An example of a scholarship fund marketing email from Luminate Online Marketing

      As a nonprofit, you’re also eligible for a number of discounts on software so that you can afford the tools that will help you shape your story, get that story out to the world and analyze your successes so you can refine your message in the future.

      Next Steps

      Now that you know more about the kind of marketing you need to be doing, and how software can help you, here’s some next steps to consider:

      • Email me at for more information. I’m happy to help you figure out what your own nonprofit marketing needs might be and to connect you to one of our software advisors for a free, no-obligation consultation

      The Good and Bad News about Giving in the USA

      Article originally appeared on The HuffPost; Steve MacLaughlin

      Giving USA is the longest-running report of charitable giving in the United States and has been an important tool for nonprofit professionals to understand what is happening across the sector. The latest Giving USA report sheds light on philanthropy trends in the US from 2016. There is a mix of good and bad news in the report that is worth examining further.


      First, let’s review some of the good news from Giving USA. The report estimates that total charitable giving in the United States was $390.05 billion. That was an inflation adjusted increase of 1.4% compared to 2015 and this increase aligns with Blackbaud’s Charitable Giving Report estimate of a 1% increase in giving.

      Giving by individuals represented 72% of all charitable giving and increased roughly 2.6% compared to 2015. The report also notes that giving by corporations grew 2.3% and foundation giving increased 2.2%, when both are adjusted for inflation.

      Giving USA also estimates giving across nine different categories of recipient organizations. For just the sixth time in the last 40 years, every single sub-sector had an increase in year-over-year giving. Environment and Animal Welfare organizations led the way with a 5.8% increase in charitable giving.


      There is also some bad news for fundraising addressed in the latest Giving USA findings. For starters, while giving by individuals, foundations, and corporations increased, there was a significant decline in bequests. In 2016, there was a 10.1% drop in estate giving following many years of very large growth trends. In prior years, significant increases in bequests helped to boost overall giving.

      While nonprofit organizations across nine categories each experienced positive growth in 2016, the overall growth trend was an anemic 1.4%. Religious organizations represent 32% of all giving, the largest of any sub-sector, but their giving only grew by 1.8%. Giving to Educational institutions only grew by 2.3% compared to two consecutive years of more than 8% growth. What does this trend mean for the billion dollar capital campaigns and education’s philanthropic arms race we’ve witnessed in the past few years?

      Yes, there are more encouraging growth trends happening with environment and animal welfare, arts and culture, and international affairs nonprofits. But keep in mind that more money is given to education than all three of those sub-sectors combined. Nearly 77% of all charitable giving goes to religious, education, human services, foundations, and health organizations in the United States. That means all other groups are raising money from a smaller portion of the available fundraising pie.

      Let’s forgo a discussion about the relationship between giving and gross domestic product. (It was 2.1% in 2016 — largely unchanged for decades now.) The more troubling statistic buried in the appendices of the Giving USA report is that individual giving as a percentage of disposable personal income has also been stuck at 2% for 40 years. When the mega gifts are set aside, a tremendous amount of giving is directly tied to disposable income.

      The other curious finding by Giving USA was that individual-to-individual giving dropped 3.7% in 2016. The current “crowdfunding” craze currently captivating constituents commonly takes the form of individual-to-individual giving. Has the bubble burst on crowdfunding? Probably not and it is worth mentioning that crowdfunding isn’t new. There are examples of crowdfunding campaigns from 1914, long before the Internet was invented.


      The state of fundraising has more questions than answers at the moment. Why is the growth rate in giving slowing despite a strong domestic economy and low unemployment rates? Does the increase in size and influence of donor advised funds help or harm the nonprofit sector? What happened to the promises of a giant generational wealth transfer that was predicted over a decade ago? What do proposed changes in government funding and policies mean for nonprofit organizations over the next year? What role does the massive student debt problem having on Millennials and their charitable giving? Will funding shift to social good organizations that do not rely on having a 501c3 tax status? We may not like the answers to some of these questions.

      The data tells us that over the past decade there has been an overall decline in donors — both new and existing. We know that poor donor retention rates are a leading indicator of overall giving declines. Social media is not a savior and donor stewardship cannot be substituted. Outcomes need to be emphasized more by nonprofits than just outputs.

      But we also know that some nonprofits are taking more risks, engaging supporters in new ways, and using more science to aid the art of fundraising. Not all nonprofits performance is a regression to the mean. The bright spots in the nonprofit sector are likely to teach us more than what’s not working. The future of fundraising will require risk, innovation, and a drive to move beyond the status quo.

      HR professionals talk value of company culture, recruitment

      Peggy Frazier heads recruiting for Blackbaud, a Daniel Island-based tech firm whose software focuses on the nonprofit and education sectors. A few years ago, she was the only baby boomer among her millennial-filled team.

      “I had to quickly learn how to work with them,” Frazier said.

      Frazier said many recruiters complain that millennials are spoiled, entitled and demanding; others say they are tired of talking about this generation altogether. She said the mindset of not wanting to focus on millennials misses the point and, eventually, will hinder recruitment efforts.

      Millennials — those born between 1980 and 2000 — will account for 50% of the workforce by 2020 and 75% by 2030. Frazier said every company needs to figure out how best to attract and work with millennials to excel in the coming years.

      “They are the generation of ‘why.’ Purpose is important. … It’s going to be so important that you know how to attract these millennials to your organization versus all the others that are going to be wanting them as well,” said Frazier, Blackbaud’s vice president of global talent acquisition.

      Frazier advocated for explaining the purpose behind a job or project to millennial employees. She said a company could put up a job post explaining that they need someone to lay bricks, or it could post one saying they need someone to help build a cathedral.

      “That’s the purpose,” she said. “That’s what you’re trying to drive and that’s what’s going to help you attract the talent that you need to have your company be successful.”

      Frazier said millennials also expect to have access to a company’s top leaders and flexibility in the workplace.

      “They want to be able to work from anywhere, at any time that they want, so flexible work arrangements are important; and they don’t want their personal life to be segmented from their work life. … Change how you engage and make sure you have your benefits to support it,” Frazier said.

      The Road To Post-Merger Success Is Paved With Good Integration (

      By Lisa Lacy, contributing writer,

      Deals such as Disney’s 2006 acquisition of Pixar, Microsoft’s 2011 purchase of Skype, and Facebook’s 2012 Instagram buy have gone down in history as arguably some of the biggest–and most successful–sales of all time. Others, unfortunately, don’t go as smoothly–even long before they close.

      With 2017 expected to be a big year for marketing and media M&A activity, it’s a prime time to ask what separates good deals from bad.

      “It’s all about making sure you understand how each company works and making sure the change is gradual,” said Adam Brown, senior SEO consultant at content marketing agency Zazzle Media. “It’s a must to make sure both companies are working toward the same goals, as collaboration can be difficult if goals are not the same.”

      Beyond recognizing that gradual changes take time, how can senior marketing executives ensure the successful integration of teams when combining companies? Insiders shared 11 best practices with for doing so.

      1. Create An Integration Team
      A crucial early step is appointing an integration team lead by members of the legacy organization and assigning responsibility for discrete functions. In terms of marketing, specifically, that includes functions like marketing automation, product marketing, competitive intelligence, and campaign strategy, said Armen Najarian, CMO of security technology company ThreatMetrix.

      “Allow these integration owners to map out the current situation and identify what the desired integration scenario should look like,” he said. “It’s important to develop realistic timelines and assume that some flexibility will be needed.”

      Suzanne Lentz, vice president of marketing and a partner at customer engagement company LiquidHub, agreed a multidisciplinary integration team can help a company deal with the disruption that comes naturally with M&A.

      “Most customers and employees on both sides of a deal fear that this disruption will negatively impact them, with changing locations, new businesses, and leadership models all potentially affecting brand and market perception,” she said. “One of the best ways for CMOs to ensure success is to embrace this disruption. … [An] integration team … [should ensure] that every action is considered in light of internal and external messaging and perception.”

      An integration team must also outline what success means early on, said Kevin Knight, CMO of Experticity, which operates a community that connects brands and influencers.

      “I believe a successful acquisition is one where the incoming team is able to catch the vision of the company they’re joining–and instill in the employees an enthusiasm for what they were working on before,” he added. “Ultimately, I think the success of an acquisition can be measured in the ability of the combining teams to cross-pollinate ideas, curiosity, and passion in a way that leaves the combined company with a new DNA.”

      2. Demonstrate Sensitivity And Composure
      An important factor that’s often overlooked in M&As is people and culture, said Anne Bologna, chief strategy officer at digital marketing agency iCrossing.

      “Merger and acquisition activity is often conceived and executed for rational business reasons–but reality hits the road when real people and teams have to start working together to generate the growth and profit promise that instigated the marriage in the first place,” she said. “Smart CMOs are the ones that overindex on the soft factors–people, culture, fit–in activating what is generally an arranged marriage.”

      That said, Najarian recommended the acquired company relax a bit, too.

      “Know that [they] acquired your organization because it’s likely addressing a need that [they] have,” he said. “Your team may be the final piece of the puzzle for their plans, so view this as an opportunity to partner with your new CMO to make this a joint success.”

      3. Thoughtfully Blend Cultures
      In addition, never assume the company being acquired will automatically inherit the parent company’s culture and values, said Catherine LaCour, senior vice president of corporate marketing at nonprofit software and services company Blackbaud.

      “Mismatched cultures is one of the leading reasons why acquisitions fail. Spend time learning about each other’s culture and values,” she said. “Work to discover the aspects of their culture you can absorb into your culture. This is a crucial step to successfully integrate and bring their employees into your fold. Then, integrate those pieces into your stated corporate values. Once your values are restated, spend adequate time training employees on these values.”

      Indeed, according to Agathe Blanchon-Ehrsam, CMO of growth strategy firm Vivaldi, a company should create a shared mindset, language, and way of working by translating a brand’s strategy and values into practical knowledge, tools, and skills and defining processes that can be incorporated into day-to-day work.

      4. Allow Time To Settle In
      Further, acknowledging the human element and allowing the necessary time and space for people to settle in is important, yet easy to overlook, said Melinda McLaughlin, CMO of Extreme Reach, an enterprise technology company.

      “Most people don’t like change,” McLaughlin said. “Clear assignments and collaborative projects that rely on contributions from members of the formerly separate teams can speed the process of bringing them together. … If infighting arises, do your best to nip it in the bud and seek guidance from a seasoned HR colleague. Success depends on a unified team.”

      5. Conduct A Skills Gap Analysis
      Also, consider not only the role each person most recently played, but how he can best fit into the needs of the newly combined group, McLaughlin added.

      “You may be able to tap into strong skills that haven’t been fully utilized,” she said. “Considering people first and team second ensures that everyone starts off on equal footing.”

      This calls for a skills gap analysis to identify what the combined organization needs and how each employee can fill those needs, according to Bruce Milne, CMO of hyperconverged infrastructure company Pivot3.

      “You’ve got a new team, so take advantage of the opportunity to tap into new skills, energy, and perspectives,” McLaughlin said. “Not every team member will be motivated by the same things, so tune in to that and trust your intuition to guide you. Setting clear expectations and defining success from the outset are critical, as are open and authentic dialogue and knowledge sharing.”

      But it also means looking at the management team of the acquired company to see who will fit best with existing management, Milne added. And, ThreatMetrix’s Najarian said, if the CMO’s goal is to preserve talent from the acquired organization, she should promote one or more from the acquired team into visible roles and allow these people to shine.

      6. Do What Is Necessary–Even The Hard Stuff
      When it comes to overlap, iCrossing’s Bologna said to make the hard decisions on leadership, team, and talent and to be sure to drive out conflicting agendas early.

      McLaughlin agreed. “Set everyone up to succeed in every way you can, but commit to making changes quickly if necessary should your gut tell you that a person is not likely to be a true team player in the new reality,” she said. “In the end, you’re still with the same company, but you actually have a new role, and that’s the best way to approach it. Clean the slate and look at this team anew.”

      (Click chart to enlarge.)

      7. Lend An Ear
      From there, quarterly personal development discussions are vital as new team members settle in, Milne said.

      “I like to give them a platform to talk about their own personal growth goals and career goals and what they’d like to see different,” he said. “If you give them an ear, they feel like they’re participating in the planning of the business. Oftentimes when they are acquired, they feel like an add-on and don’t get direct visibility to the planning cycle.”

      Further, Blackbaud’s LaCour said to continue to build relationships between both companies as time goes on.

      “For example, leaders from different parts of the organization should speak with other departments to help educate them on the process, the value their organization brings, and how employees will be impacted,” she added.

      On the flip side of listening, and just as important: A good leader will also overcommunicate.

      “My own experience has shown me that taking the time to connect individually with each member of the newly acquired team to understand his or her marketing experience, skill set, and career aspirations is time well-spent,” Extreme Reach’s McLaughlin said. “Even brief meetings can reveal a lot about how each person is approaching the new structure.”

      Within the marketing department specifically, Milne said communication helps everyone understand philosophy and priorities. That, in turn, helps those people coming in to the organization “get with the program and start helping,” he added. “So communicate a lot, set super clear goals, and then evaluate progress and measure those goals as you go.”

      8. Ease Into Operational Changes
      The acquiring company should be sensitive to the fact that specific tools, systems, and processes were established by the acquired entity, and the team members who are joining the organization are familiar and possibly happy with them, ThreatMetrix’s Najarian said.

      “For example, a wholesale rip [and] replace of the acquired company’s marketing automation platform could be both highly disruptive and demoralizing,” he said. “If what they’re using isn’t beneficial, create a reasonable timeframe for grandfathering it out of use.”

      On the flip side, Pivot3’s Milne said companies that are acquired shouldn’t assume their new parent wants to steamroll everything they accomplished and to, instead, be open-minded and see how they can contribute to the overall good.

      “Don’t think of yourself as an island, and don’t be resistant to change,” he said. “Work with the new marketing team and figure out how to bring the teams together. Nobody likes change, and being mature about change is tough, but it’s always the best policy.”

      Ramon Chen, CMO of data-driven application company Reltio, agreed M&As can quickly escalate into what he called highly politically charged situations in which teams are defensive and want to protect their own territory.

      “It is often natural to take things personally and feel that hard work is being minimized and dismissed,” he said. “The most important thing to instill in all teams is that the focus should always be on the customer.”

      Indeed, Experticity’s Knight said the key word of any acquisition is humility.

      “The most important thing the CMO being acquired can do is remain a leader,” he added. “A good leader will shepherd her or his team through without letting themselves get caught up in the drama.”

      9. Use Data
      For his part, Chen recommended a data-driven approach so CMOs better understand the performance, efficiencies, and goals of their combined teams and determine the best path forward.

      “CMOs should not fly blind without the appropriate data to inform decisions that need to be made on people, processes, and technology,” he said. “It should not be assumed that the acquiring company’s team and assets should just fit into the framework that exists. Every acquisition is an opportunity to look at revisiting existing processes, [learning] about new ideas and methods, and [bringing] in fresh talent that can help take the company to the next level.”

      LiquidHub’s Lentz agreed that CMOs should tap into both qualitative and quantitative data that support long- and short-term goals.

      “Using data to quantify a change of this magnitude will help ease the transition period since it will show employees that the combined company is more qualified and uniquely positioned to better serve clients’ needs,” she said.

      10. Align Strategies
      iCrossing’s Bologna recommended taking the time to get senior leaders to align on mission, vision, goals, KPIs, and team, as well as to pause to understand what made the acquired company successful.

      “Protect and preserve that like it is gold, but also learn from it and apply what’s relevant to the rest of the organization,” she said.

      And, of course, teams must understand how new products and services fit into their pre-existing portfolios.

      “New products and services will affect how you position the company, the markets you serve, and the language you use,” Blackbaud’s LaCour said. “Make sure you train all employees to fully understand the changes and what they mean to your customers.”

      It also includes aligning social and digital go-to-market strategies and considering how the deal will impact pricing, promotion, products, and placement, she added.

      11. Analyze The Competition
      Also worth noting: An acquisition means a company also acquires new competitors, costs, and risks.

      “Consider a SWOT analysis to better understand the competitive landscape and how it will [impact] your messaging and positioning for the fully integrated company,” LaCour said.

      Zack Long, CMO of sports travel and event management company PrimeSport, agreed.

      “The merging teams must find shared strengths and weaknesses and utilize the expanded organization to fill those gaps and develop best practices,” he said. “It sounds very academic, but the tried-and-true SWOT analysis works well here. You need to approach this process with honesty and make sure the real story is revealed, but the result when successful will guide your action plan moving forward.”

      Charleston, Blackbaud Make An Easy Recruiting Story, Says CIO Lant

      The Charleston Digital Corridor’s Leadership Profile Series is focused on the individuals who are driving the Charleston tech scene forward.

      Todd Lant is chief information officer of Blackbaud. Headquartered on Daniel Island, Blackbaud provides software, services, expertise and data intelligence to nonprofits, foundations, corporations, education institutions and individual change agents. Blackbaud, founded in 1981, has about 3,000 employees.

      Where did you grow up?

      I moved around a good bit as a kid. So cities I would call home are Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, Atlanta, and Boston. All those have fond places in my heart.

      How did you come to be in Charleston?

      Blackbaud called me up. I had a great opportunity to be part of a company that does more than just deliver product. We do a lot for our customers, and that really excited me. So I hopped on the opportunity and found myself here.

      At the time, I was at a place called the Houston Independent School District. It was the first job I’d had where the outcomes of what we delivered were more than just corporate financials. Everything you did impacted students and their potential futures, so that really probably lit my passion for working someplace where there was more to it than just the corporate operations.

      In your own words, what does your company do?

      We lead uniquely at the intersection point of social good and technology. We provide software, services, data intelligence, and meaningful thought leadership for the social good space. That social good space is pretty comprehensive. It includes nonprofits, foundations, corporations, learning institutions, and now, it also includes the individual change leaders who support them in leading that change.

      What was your first job, or most memorable early job? What did you learn from it?

      I had a great opportunity right out of college. I joined a company called Lithonia Lighting. It’s a large manufacturing company in Atlanta and they were in the middle of a large IT transformation. There were four of us selected for a leadership training program for IT, and we were able to spend a short period of time in every area of the business learning about how their business worked and how technology enabled that. That was really a great start to a career that gave me a lot of diversity and married the technology side of things with business.

      How would you describe your organization’s culture?

      It starts with a passion for social good. We’re a purpose-driven company that is passionate about helping customers use technology to make a difference in the world. Oftentimes we say it’s as important as code here, and having a culture that people are attracted to and continue to facilitate is really important.

      We’re a technology company – innovation is paramount to what we do, and we’re in a state of innovation now that’s really unprecedented. So that permeates into everything we do culturally. We work very hard to ensure we foster that at all levels of the organization.

      And then we’ve got a set of corporate values that I think really reflect the culture here. “We work as one” is about working together to do more than we could do working individually. “We bring heart” is about the passion we have for our customers, for the outcomes we deliver. “We expect the best” is about operational excellence and making sure we put quality into everything we do. “We invent possibilities” is back to the innovation idea – you’ve always got to be inventing, always got to be innovating. And then, “We give back” is a big, big part of our culture here. We do a lot to give back to the community. Most of our employees volunteer for various events around the cities they live in. Most of our executive leadership serves on nonprofit boards. We have a variety of CSR initiatives, such as volunteer for vacation and employee-led community grant-making, which really reflects our culture quite nicely.

      What is your management style? Why is that your approach?

      I’m really passionate about outcomes, about what I do, about bringing technology to bear in business. So my management style tends to reflect that. I like people around me with energy. I like people that challenge me. I challenge my folks, so I expect them to deliver, not always with a lot of direction but in the right direction. I like to have fun, too.

      What lessons have you learned from good bosses? Bad bosses?

      I’ve worked with a lot of really successful folks that have been successful in very different ways. So there are different paths to success. It’s very easy when you pick up the latest self-help book to get so focused on the path and lose sight of the outcomes. But what I’ve really learned is that outcomes matter and everybody succeeds in different ways. So working toward successful outcomes at your own pace is really important.

      What’s the hardest or most important lesson you’ve learned in business?

      It’s really important to continue challenging myself. If you’re the smartest person in the room, get out of the room. Go learn something, go talk to a customer, or go get a product demo. Go figure out an area of the business that you don’t know a lot about and figure out how you can make it better. Without that challenge, I think you’re just sub-optimizing your potential.

      Do you have a routine that’s important to your day? A morning ritual, meditation, etc.?

      I’m not as superstitious as hockey players, but I do have a routine. A healthy prayer life really helps keep my priorities in alignment. Hugging my girls daily is very important to me. It brings me back here every day to fight hard to change the world, to make a difference.

      I start every day with my team first thing in the morning and have a stand-up meeting. Starting the day with the team, getting us focused, making sure there’s good, solid communication is important to me. I like to exercise every day. It keeps my head clear, keeps me physically in better shape.

      And I do like some loud music. When I ride to work, when I’m working – I like my music, and I tend to wear headphones in the office. I’m a rock guy. Ranges from groove metal to just about any other kind of rock.

      What obstacles have you faced building your business? How have you overcome them?

      Every place I’ve ever worked in IT, you face similar challenges: There’s always way more to do, way more that you want to do, than you have resources to get done. So it’s really important to start at the top, making sure your IT strategies align with your corporate strategy, making sure that’s very clear for everybody on the team. And then when you drop down to the next level, making sure your priorities are very clear, that you are executing well against those priorities and measuring outcomes, focusing the resources you have to maximize them to get the right things done.

      What do you look for in the people you hire?

      The hiring world has changed quite a lot. We now hire folks very differently from when I was starting my career. We hire folks we expect will change jobs or roles every two to three years. And so, it starts with culture. It doesn’t just start with skills. We’re looking for future leaders in the company. We want folks who are passionate about our mission. Those who fit well with our values that I talked about a moment ago, so as they do progress in their careers, the strongest ones desire to stay here at Blackbaud and they are successful because of that.

      We care about aptitude and technical ability obviously, as well. We are a tech company and that’s paramount to what we do. But it starts with culture and our values when we recruit folks here.

      What is your biggest pet peeve in business or amongst colleagues?

      I am fairly high energy. I love being around high-energy people who are passionate about what they do, who drive things forward, who care about outcomes. When I work with folks who start to get a little bit complacent at times or don’t seemed to be focused on outcomes, I really give them a lot of attention to help get them to a place where they’re on board with aggressively moving the agenda that we have forward.

      What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

      Doing what you love and loving what you do go hand in hand, and that generates not only passion but the drive you need and the fortitude you need to be successful. I think sometimes we lose focus. I’ve mentored some folks who chased a title or chased dollars or chased a business opportunity and let go of that focus. And they really were less successful because of it in the long run.

      What advice would you give new graduates seeking to work in the tech industry?

      First of all, congratulations. I think it’s a great career. It’s a career that is going to be around for a long time. Tremendous, diverse opportunities. And it’s a challenging career. The advice I would give is, it is constantly changing, and that is going to accelerate and continue to accelerate, so remain focused on career learning, constantly staying abreast of what’s going on both in business and technology. And you’ll have a great career and have fun doing it.

      What do you see as the future of your company?

      Blackbaud is the world’s leader in delivering cloud solutions to the social good community, and we’re really just getting going there. Our vision is to power the ecosystem of good that builds a better world. . In order to do that, it looks like a couple of things. It looks like continuing to innovate in what we do, in delivering those solutions. It looks like figuring out new ways and improving the ways we already have connected our customers to advance the social good movement. Ultimately, it’s about building the tools that our customers need to succeed at their missions.

      What one person has been the biggest influence on your business life? And why?

      I’m going to give you two. First, my mom. My mom was very successful in her career. She was masters educated, and when I was a freshman in high school she decided she wanted to change careers. She went back to school – tremendous work ethic, tremendous confidence – and reinvented herself and ended up being the controller of a multi-company conglomerate. Very successful. And so I go back to that often. You can change yourself. You can make a difference. You’ve got to work hard to do it.

      I also have a professional mentor that I’ve worked with for many, many years in the technology space. He’s really been tremendously helpful in keeping me true to who I am, keeping me focused on really delivering what I can, not only for my company but for customers and what they do. Keeping me tied to my personal strengths. He had some adversity in his life that really changed him and changed his focus in his career, and I’ve been able to learn from that, too, which will hopefully save me some pain in the process.

      Are you a Mac or a PC? iPhone or Android?

      I’m multilingual. I truly carry both a Mac and a Windows Surface Book. I typically carry an iPhone, and I do carry an Android phone from time to time. I have five different tablets that I carry; both Android and Apple. I love technology. I love to learn the differences and understand them, and a lot of that’s about knowing my internal customers and our external customers, understanding how those technologies are used in different ways and what their strengths are.

      What is your usual Starbucks order?

      I like a little bit of dark roast to go with the cream. That’s my usual order. When I’m international, I love a flat white. I don’t know what’s different about it in the UK or in Australia, but I love a flat white internationally.

      Outside of work what keeps you busy?

      I stay quite busy outside of work. I havetwo daughters, a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old, so I’m busy with their activities and their lives. They challenge me as much as work does, oftentimes. I also serve on a number of boards for local nonprofits, and I really enjoy that work as well. I enjoy triathlons, so I spend time on my bike, in the pool, and going out for a run.

      What has it been like building your technical team in Charleston?

      It’s been good. We recruit nationally, and we recruit in Charleston; it’s our largest home. It’s a great market for us. It’s an easy story when you take Blackbaud’s story, Charleston as a great place to live, and a growing and emerging technology community.

      Do you see any challenges recruiting tech talent to Charleston?

      I think the challenges are national and global more than local. There are technology jobs that are in very, very short supply and very, very high demand. You look at areas like information security, all areas of data intelligence, analytics – we’re competing across the globe for the same talent, and there’s not enough of it. So there are certainly challenges there. Again, Blackbaud’s story and the local market tends to help us with that. But we must be creative like everybody else.

      What are your thoughts on how Charleston’s technical landscape has grown?

      It’s been fun to watch. I’ve been here 13 years now. Blackbaud was one of the early ones, if not the early tech company in town. So two things have happened. One is we’ve watched folks grow and spread. I attend events such as the iFiveK and sometimes it’s kind of a reunion. You see folks move around and start new tech companies. The tech space has really grown, which is fantastic.

      We are also in the midst of a digital transformation across the world, all companies have become companies that have tech talent and are doing similar things. So it’s fun to watch that community grow as well. We have a big health care market here; we have a big hospitality business here; wehave many other industries. So seeing the technology in those areas grow as well as ours has been really nice to watch. Obviously, aerospace and automotive have grown significantly. So it’s a very different space today. It’s a great place.

      Call Us


      Our award-winning support team & sales representatives are standing by to help!

      contact a specialist now: 800.443.9441

      Call Us


      Chat with our experienced staff to receive help right away!

      Call Us


      Subscribe to our feeds, friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and YouTube!

      click to connect

      Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Safe Harbor Notice | Terms of Use | Acceptable Use Policy | Sitemap | © 2012 Blackbaud, Inc. All Rights Reserved

      Social Widgets powered by