Blackbaud’s Social Good Customers Share Stories of Resilience During COVID-19

Nonprofits, foundations, healthcare organizations, education institutions, corporate social responsibility teams share how cloud technology has been instrumental in helping them quickly pivot amid pandemic
Apr 7, 2020 12:05 PM ET

Charleston, S.C. (April 7, 2020) /3BL Media/ — Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB), the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good, is rallying behind its customers and empowering them with the technology needed to make quick shifts and take critical action during the global COVID-19 crisis.

In the weeks since the crisis came to the forefront, Blackbaud customers have creatively pivoted to switch in-person events to virtual fundraisers, established virtual volunteering options for employees, galvanized lobbying efforts for legislation to protect at-risk patient populations and created an array of COVID-19 funds and grant opportunities. K–12 schools are swiftly moving classes online as they’ve been forced to shut their doors. Religious organizations are providing online resources while coordinating support given the increased need for offerings. Zoos, aquariums and other cultural organizations which have lost revenue from in-person attendance, have graciously provided content for all to enjoy online, while reminding them of ways to donate toward their continued operating costs.

“Our customers have always inspired us, but the levels they are rising to during this pandemic are truly extraordinary,” said Blackbaud President and CEO Mike Gianoni. “In the face of adversity and the incredible challenges brought on by COVID-19, they are creating innovative solutions and using technology in new ways to contribute to the ecosystem of good™. We are proud to stand with our customers and support them with critical technology so they can continue focusing on their missions during this time of global crisis.” 

The isolating nature of the pandemic means many organizations are relying even more on virtual and online solutions for fundraising, relationship management, payment services and grantmaking as well as other platforms tailored to their sectors. Blackbaud solutions are purpose-built for the unique needs of arts and cultural organizations, nonprofits, companies, higher education, faith communities, healthcare organizations, K–12 schools and foundations.


The rare-disease Alpha-1 Foundation used Blackbaud tools to successfully advocate for emergency federal legislation that is a matter of life and death for Alpha-1 patients. A primary victory will temporarily allow treatments for the Alpha-1 disease at home, rather than forcing "Alphas," many of whom have compromised lungs, to get those treatments at medical facilities where they might be exposed to COVID-19. One of the Blackbaud tools that has proven especially helpful is Blackbaud Luminate Online®, which allows the foundation to strategically mobilize Alpha-1 advocates in lobbying legislators. "We are able to leverage our Blackbaud systems to find constituents in key districts in order to be able to have their story and issue heard. As time is not on our side, to have the ability to pull this information quickly is extremely helpful,” said Director of Development Linda Rodriguez.


Committed to the welfare of the Aurora community, the Dunham Fund in Illinois worked with four local funding partners to pool resources and address the most urgent needs in quality healthcare, human services and educational opportunities. “As money starts to filter to states and communities, and we learn how federal and state dollars will be allocated, we are also discovering how we can fill that gap,” said President and CEO Vicki Morcos. "In recognition of nonprofits' resources being strained, we effortlessly modified our grant application so that it is easier and quicker for them to submit. This allows the Dunham Fund to respond more swiftly to their needs for general operating support and funding for services related to COVID-19." With Blackbaud Grantmaking™, the Dunham Fund's staff made those changes so seamlessly, according to Morcos, it felt like “business as usual” despite the extraordinary circumstances.


Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) transitioned upcoming PurpleStride fundraising walks through the end of May into virtual events to protect the health and safety of their vulnerable population of pancreatic cancer patients, as well as supporters, volunteers and staff. “Because PanCAN utilizes Blackbaud Luminate Online for all peer-to-peer fundraising and digital marketing, we were able to quickly and efficiently pivot our in-person PurpleStride walks to a virtual fundraising campaign,” said Lori Stevens, Chief Development and Community Engagement Officer, PanCAN. The nonprofit is providing “virtual striders” tips and tricks on online fundraising and other DIY opportunities, and some are doing their walks solo. “Even in these challenging times, our mission to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients does not slow down or stop. Our fundraising goals have not changed,” Stevens said. “While we may not be able to come together physically, we can come together virtually to fight this disease.”

Arts & Cultural 

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, which typically welcomes 1.8 million guests per year, has opened its virtual doors to tens of millions of viewers in the span of a few short weeks through its Home Safari. The daily live and on-demand videos feature a zookeeper and an animal, plus an at-home activity for viewers. With Blackbaud as a partner for fundraising and marketing, Cincinnati Zoo quickly set up a donation program to support its operations while the attraction remains closed. In that time, the zoo has experienced a 487% increase in donors, while active views for Home Safari stretch to nearly 20 million. “It’s been so successful, and it really speaks to the opportunity to creatively fulfill our mission while meeting a need for the community right now,” said Director of Donor Engagement Krista Powers. “We believe in hope. We want to provide a little seed of joy and brightness in people’s lives, and this is allowing us to do that.”

Corporate Social Responsibility

With Blackbaud’s YourCause corporate social responsibility solution, Umpqua Bank in the Pacific Northwest selected charity organizations to meet the most urgent needs, providing a three-to-one match on employee gifts. The bank focused first on COVID-19 response funds, has transitioned to food access organizations, and will shift to small business support, culturally specific organizations and then employee resource groups in the coming weeks. Umpqua Bank also set up virtual volunteering through YourCause, connecting its employees with nonprofits that previously received funding from the bank. Partner organizations have surfaced 25 virtual volunteering opportunities in the first two weeks alone, and Umpqua associates are sewing medical masks, doing data entry, reading to children, and more. “We’re working to fill urgent needs first,” said Operations Manager Jordan Bowen. “We had our program ready to go in the YourCause platform before we even had funding approval from our foundation. The platform has been so responsive, and really helped advance our ability to help our people and communities during this challenging time.”

Higher Education

Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) immediately moved to establish an online emergency response fund for students, faculty and staff impacted by COVID-19. By March’s end, alumni and friends contributed more than $130,000 to the online fund, which staff could easily manage while working remotely, thanks to Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT® and Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT®. The public research university’s adoption of the cloud-based solutions in 2019 “couldn’t have happened at a better time, given the circumstances we are now in,” said Heather Andring, director of advancement services at the university, which enrolls more than 10,000 students.

K-12 Schools

Based outside of Seattle, International Baccalaureate World School Annie Wright Schools, which includes day and boarding options, began preparing for COVID-19 months ago and put technology plans in place to maintain education from a distance. Annie Wright has relied on Blackbaud’s total school solution as its communication partner leveraging the platform to provide weekly newsletters and regular updates to parents, teachers and faculty as the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved. Being able to communicate quickly and effectively to the entire school has been crucial for Annie Wright during these times. Additionally, Annie Wright has been using key features of Blackbaud’s Student Management System, such as gradebook and attendance platforms, which has provided much-needed consistency with the in-person classroom experience. “It has been seamless in this entire transition,” said Jen Willey, communications director, Annie Wright Schools. 

Faith Communities

With Blackbaud Online Express™, the Catholic Community Foundation of the Diocese of Richmond spun up an online donation portal for more than 140 individual parishes. Within the first day, more than 170 people donated, and one-third of donors made their gifts recurring. With the approach of Easter season—a critical giving time for the diocese—Catholic Community Foundation continues to drive awareness about the digital offertory and drive parishioners to engage and support online. “Everything but e-giving stopped when the churches closed,” said Executive Director Margaret Keightley. “Without money, we cannot provide ministry—and so many people are in need. If we can’t stay open, we can’t assist the poor.”

Through it all, Blackbaud customer support, customer success, professional services and managed services teams have been on call to assist customers, helping more than 10,000 customers in one week as the month of March came to a close. “The intersection of technology and social good has never been more important than it is today,” said Walter Loiselle, senior vice president of customer operations, Blackbaud. “We’re committed to supporting all our customers as quickly and creatively as possible, while helping new customers achieve the time to value and time to ROI they need during this unprecedented time.”

About Blackbaud

Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) is the world's leading cloud software company powering social good. Serving the entire social good community—nonprofits, higher education institutions, K–12 schools, healthcare organizations, faith communities, arts and cultural organizations, foundations, companies and individual change agents—Blackbaud connects and empowers organizations to increase their impact through cloud software, services, expertise and data intelligence. The Blackbaud portfolio is tailored to the unique needs of vertical markets, with solutions for fundraising and CRM, marketing, advocacy, peer-to-peer fundraising, corporate social responsibility, school management, ticketing, grantmaking, financial management, payment processing and analytics. Serving the industry for more than three decades, Blackbaud is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, and has operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit or follow us on TwitterLinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

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