Microsoft Power Automate Acknowledgement Kit – Frequently Asked Questions
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.)
Frequently Asked Questions from the Webinar1. 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:
- Export and Mail Merge. All Raiser's Edge, Blackbaud Raiser's Edge NXT, and Blackbaud Church Management customers can use the export and merge processes described in What are the new workflows for Microsoft Word with Blackbaud Hosting Services?
- Power Automate. As an alternative option, Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT or Blackbaud Church Management customers can evaluate the self-service Microsoft Power Automate toolkit.
- Partner Solutions. Partners DonorTek and Red Arc offer acknowledgement automation applications. These partners will host webinars to let you preview their solutions the week of January 24th.
- Join Taylor Francis of Blackbaud’s Customer Success group for Navigating Changes to your Mail Processes on January 18 at 1 p.m. EST or January 20th at 10 a.m. EST (3 p.m. GMT)
- Join Blackbaud Partner Prenger Solutions Group for What do we do now? Practical advice for Database Administrators, on January 13th at 1pm EST. This webinar will help you navigate your available options, including using the desktop versions of Word and Excel, as well as onboarding to Power Automate.
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.
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:
- Modern Merge Kit Beginner: Wednesday, January 12th, 3:00 - 4:00pm ET
- Modern Merge Kit Beginner: Tuesday, February 15th, 10:30 - 11:30am ET
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.
Blackbaud Partners Prenger Solutions Group and npAutomate also offer services to assist you with Power Automate onboarding and projects.
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.
- Thursday, January 6th, 1:00 - 1:45PM ET
- Thursday, January 20th, 1:00 - 1:45PM ET
- Thursday, February 3th, 1:00 - 1:45PM ET
- Thursday, February 17th, 1:00 - 1:45PM ET
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?
All of this was very informative, thank you so much!
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.
@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?
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?
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.