Microsoft Power Automate Acknowledgement Kit – Frequently Asked Questions 8135

Microsoft Power Automate Acknowledgement Kit – Frequently Asked Questions

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Many of you tuned in last week during the busy end-of-year period for our webinar about using a new Microsoft Power Automate self-service toolkit to create gift acknowledgements. Our goal was to showcase the potential of Microsoft Power Automate, and the Microsoft Power Platform, to help you work more efficiently and faster by harnessing this powerful option for process automation.

We also wanted to introduce you to just one approach you might want to explore using in 2022 to create acknowledgements given the changes coming to how users access Microsoft Office application integrations within Blackbaud solutions.

We fielded a LOT of questions, many with a similar theme so, as promised, we compiled responses to the most frequent ones below. (And if you missed the webinar, you can view the recording of Modernize your Gift Processing with the Acknowledgement Automation Kit.)
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Frequently Asked Questions from the Webinar

1. Is Power Automate my only alternative for gift acknowledgements in Raiser’s Edge after February 28, 2022?
No, Microsoft Power Automate is just one of several options available. It happened to be the first webinar chronologically, but isn’t the only option. Your options include: For an overview of all your options, try one of these webinars: 2. How do I know if I’m licensed for Power Automate, what are the costs, and where do I go for help on licensing?
Licensing for Microsoft Power Automate is handled directly between your organization and Microsoft. It is difficult for us to provide you with exact information on these costs as Microsoft licensing may vary by type and size of organization, country, your existing footprint with Microsoft, etc.

Here are a few general guidelines:
  • If you are unsure of your current Microsoft licensing status, speak to your IT folks. They should either have this information or know how to contact Microsoft if you are an existing customer. If you already use Microsoft tools like Word and Outlook, this might be as easy as requesting and receiving a license.
  • Microsoft offers programs for nonprofits to obtain free or low-cost licenses. And a free trial is also available if you just want to check it out first. Any work you create will be saved if you decide to upgrade from the free trial offer to a paid or granted license.
  • At this time, the Acknowledgement kits use only Power Automate, which can be licensed separately from other components of the Microsoft Power Platform. The licenses that most nonprofits already have, called E1 and E3 licenses, come with access to Power Automate.
  • Microsoft offers a per flow or per user plan for Power Automate. We recommend a “Power Automate per user plan.” The per user plan is intended to support the broad adoption of an automation culture in an organization, meaning you will have a growing number of workflows powering business processes at your organization. Every user with this plan is entitled to use an unlimited number of flows, within service limits. Microsoft offers several per user plan types, some of which include Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The simple per user plan is adequate for all of the workflows in the acknowledgement tutorials.
    We recommend your organization have two licenses at a minimum, so you have a lead and a back-up resource, likely in IT, so that there is coverage in case edits need to be made to your workflows.

  • TechSoup can be a valuable resource for understanding Microsoft pricing models.
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3. If I’m ready to start working on Power Automate, what do I do next?
Start by following the Getting Started and Initial Set-up guides on our SKY Developer documentation site. This site is the collection of kits, tutorials, templates, and code samples to help you onboard to using the Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT or Blackbaud Church Management certified connector for Microsoft Power Platform.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you are eligible to join a Skills Lab. In these Skills Lab sessions, we’ll walk through self-installation of one of the template workflows. No registration is required. Download the calendar file to add to add one of the following times to your calendar: 4. Can Blackbaud Services or Service Partners help me with Power Automate?
Yes, Blackbaud Professional Services can assist with Microsoft Power Platform projects. Please speak to your Account Executive or Customer Success Manager. Let them know you'd like to be fast-tracked to the Services Sales team to discuss SKY API or Microsoft Power Platform assistance.
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Blackbaud Partners Prenger Solutions Group and npAutomate also offer services to assist you with Power Automate onboarding and projects.
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5. Where can I find toolkits and tutorials on Acknowledgement processes using Power Automate?
We've compiled a lot of resources to help you get started and use Power Automate to automate your Acknowledgements (and other processes):
  • Blackbaud staff have created several DIY kits including video tutorials for different types of Acknowledgement processes and will continue to release updates over the coming weeks.
  • Check out these ready-made Power Automate templates created by customers, partners and other developers.
  • Subscribe to the SKY Developer YouTube channel and to get notified as soon as new tutorials become available.
  • If you are new to SKY Developer, we highly recommend you check out this playlist for Beginners that showcases all the capabilities available to you with your Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT subscription.
  • Questions? If you are actively exploring Power Automate and have questions, please join us for Open Office Hours. These are not trainings! They are open Q&A sessions with product experts. Registration is not necessary; the links below let you download a calendar reminder containing the Teams event login details.
For beginners – For help with onboarding, initial set-up, idea generation, and available resources. For intermediate and advanced users – For help with technical approaches and troubleshooting specific flows and apps.
6. Are you pushing Power Automate because Blackbaud has something to gain from this? Why would I want to use Power Automate?
The team that’s working on developing practical applications of the Microsoft Power Platform is comprised of folks from across Blackbaud who believe that this type of automation is the future of the social good sector overall. Compiling the library of resources, developing templates, and providing support and coaching is a passion project for our team. We see the broad potential of digital process automation to transform the way social good organizations work. Primarily, automation allows you to hand over repeatable workflows to the robots and empowers your organization’s most powerful asset – you – to focus on more strategic mission objectives. We love this topic and we want to share it with you, that's the bottom line.

This interest in Microsoft Power Platform does not replace product development within Blackbaud Raiser's Edge NXT or other software solutions; it is a complementary effort by a different team. Two years ago when we released our first certified connector to Microsoft Power Platform, our goal was to help you streamline key business processes, transcending Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT to plug into a broader ecosystem of applications, solutions, and services. With this solution you can leverage any Microsoft application and the ecosystem of other software and service providers Microsoft can connect you to.

Beyond its specific application for supporter acknowledgements, Microsoft Power Automate can be a great option for automating workflows and processes such as the following:
  • Common, repeatable reports and notifications like “large gift digests” that get sent on a regular cadence to an email address or to Microsoft Teams
  • Donor service requests, approvals, and automated processing
  • Pipeline and opportunity management workflows for frontline gift officers
  • Document generation – letters, acknowledgements, proposals, event attendance rosters and printable donor profiles
  • Project management and collaboration around key opportunities and initiatives
  • Intake processes for new volunteers and supporters to ensure their records are established and outreach planned
  • Who knows what else we'll come up with together?
News Blackbaud Raiser's Edge NXT® Blog 01/05/2022 2:20pm EST

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3 Comments

I would love to set this up and will probably test it, but without letter or tribute in webview, getting lists that are actually useful is a little hard.

Thanks @Heather McLean, going to dig into that tutorial and see how it goes!

@Kelly Hogan - Yes, there are certain types of letters that will have to rely on an Export process. The Export tutorial relies on this method where the file is picked up from your Blackbaud Hosted Files (SFTP) area to process the acknowledgements. The current tutorial is for pledge reminder statements. We are working on another tutorial for tributes that will follow the same approach but also have a return trip to the SFTP for an import to mark the tribute as acknowledged. If you have RE:Queue you can schedule the export and import thereby creating a whole automated workflow. If you don't have it, speak to your CSM or AE and say you are working with Power Automate. Mention my name if they have questions.

Which options will be best for setting up eReceipts?

@Candy Reichert - I would first evaluate the native functionality in RE NXT webview.

Is there any additional information about the Encodian piece that is required for more advanced merge functionality in the kit since this is a service that we will need to pay to use?

@Brent Troth - Check out this flow that @Ashley Moose just posted. She created Labels without the need for Encodian. More alternatives to come!

Heather, thanks for the update and we'd love it if we didn't have to subscribe to another product in order to solve the mail merge issue so I look forward to seeing the new tutorials that will be coming out.

@Brent Troth - Encodian's Flowr is really useful because it solves for problems that take a bit longer to handle programmatically. When you are a beginner or on the no-code side of low-code, it helps immensely.

First, we received some good news when we met with Encodian this week. There is preferential pricing available for nonprofits after the free trial period. Just say you are a Blackbaud customer. In the current templates, we have tried to minimize the use of Encodian to only a few actions which shouldn't put most organizations into a paid license territory at all.

You learn something new with every workflow you build and @Glen Hutson has uncovered a way to Parse JSON and Merge Word Documents into the single print-ready file without the use of Encodian at all. We are working to finalize these new tutorials and will be updating the documentation very soon. This way you will have a choice on which method you adopt.

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