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Blackbaud Developers' Conference Highlights

nonprofit data Jun 15, 2022

Last week I virtually attended the Blackbaud Developers' Conference (BBDEV).

Think of this conference as a group of people coming together to discuss and learn how to extend the capabilities of Raiser's Edge NXT (and other Blackbaud products) with custom automations and apps. Not too long ago these types of customizations required a developer (someone who writes code) to build. Now they can be built using no-code, low-code tools available in Microsoft Power Platform.

Say your boss asks for a custom report or dashboard to be emailed to her every Monday morning. You can automate that. Or you would like your volunteers to check into an event by filling out a short check-in form. You can build an app for that AND automate the process. The possibilities are endless.

Here are some of the highlights from the conference.

  • Favorite Breakout Sessions
    • Dan Snyder, Associate Director of Advancement Services at Bennington College, won the Microsoft Power Platform Community Award at the 2021 BBDEV. In his breakout session he walked attendees through the process he automated for sending cards to donors on the anniversary of their gift. Brilliant! I also appreciated Dan's laidback presentation style. You can check out his template here.
    • Bringing new tools together to create more efficiency in your workflow can get confusing. In his session All-in-one Extensibility Options in Blackbaud Raiser's Edge NXT, Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT, and Blackbaud CRM Facilitated by Microsoft Power Automate, Blackbaud Principal Solution Architect, Glen Hutson attacked that confusion head-on.
  • Favorite Keynote Moments
    • In his keynote talk called The One Key Success Anchor in Data and Analytics, Dr. Prashanth Southekal from the DPB Institute discussed the importance of intuition in data and analytics. Data is used to make the best prediction of what might happen and there is a lot of gray area in analytics. Dr. Southekal's advice - "You need a good gut feeling in addition to data to make good decisions."
    • Keynote speaker, Lorraine Bardeen from Microsoft spoke to the benefits of brining your authentic self to work and how this creates an "ecosystem of safeness."
  • Favorite Skills Labs
    • Conditional Letter Merge with Microsoft Power Automate facilitated by Matthew Thacker from Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance walked participants through creating an automated workflow for producing conditional letters (think gift acknowledgements). After the workflow runs, it sends the letters as an attachment to the appropriate coworker for review and printing. Genius!
    • Visualize KPIs in Blackbaud Raiser's Edge NXT Using Microsoft Power BI presented by Tad Thompson from Microsoft was full of tips, tricks, and advice for harnessing the potential when  Microsoft Power BI and Raiser's Edge NXT work together.

In addition to these there was ample opportunities for networking with folks who are generous, kind, and inspiring.

If you're into making Raiser's Edge NXT, Financial Edge NXT, or Blackbaud CRM do super cool things pretty easily, plan to attend BBDEV next year. Stay tuned to this page for information.

On a similar note, earlier this week I received my Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals certification. Hit me up if you'd like to discuss automating boring, time-consuming, repetitive tasks in Raiser's Edge NXT.

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