This is the Blackbaud Community Best Practices blog.

Empower Yourself!

My first job at a nonprofit was 20-something years ago. It was the quintessential small shop—a one-man, er… one-woman show. There was no training program, no orientation, and certainly no how-to documents. Honestly, there was no internet to speak of, either. That’s right, no Google—can you imagine the horror?

To learn how to do my job and develop my skills, I attended an annual, local nonprofit conference. I sat through keynote speeches, attended awards banquets, and participated in breakout sessions lead by fellow nonprofit colleagues. If I was lucky, I’d bring home one or two innovative ideas and a dozen business cards. Occasionally, I would take advantage of some continuing education money in the budget and attend a 5-day class at a local college.

Mostly, however, I learned by trial and error.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Times have changed. We know you don’t want to wait for an annual conference, and you may not have the time or funds to dedicate to a 5-day class to learn how to do your job.

As a leader in the social good space, Blackbaud University is committed to not only sharing our technology expertise, but our industry experience. In that spirit, we refreshed our Organizational Best Practices classes—now designed to serve the entire social good community, not just nonprofits.

Whether you wear many hats, or are role-specific, Blackbaud University has you covered! We’ve categorized our Organizational Best Practices classes into designated learning paths:
  • Fundraisingto fuel your mission
  • Engaging Your Networkto inspire others
  • Marketing & Communicationsto share your message
  • Operational Excellenceto work efficiently
Our 3-hour virtual classes explore strategies critical to your role, and inspire conversation to help you apply industry best practices at your organization.

You may already have access to these classes with your Learn® training subscription! Not a subscriber? Find out how a Learn subscription can help you empower yourself!

And if that’s not enough, enter the Best Practices contest before April 20th. If your blog is accepted, you’ll have a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card!
Posted by Amy PosavacOsborne on Mar 1, 2018 12:15 PM America/New_York

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I just got my ED to approve my getting Learn More and Best Practices.  Like you I mostly learned on my own.  Now however, at age 60 I take every opportunity to take webinars and classes to keep up.
  • Posted Tue 03 Apr 2018 11:33 AM EDT
I like the categories that you've created
  • Posted Tue 03 Apr 2018 11:53 AM EDT
I would really like to learn more about:
  • Operational Excellenceto work efficiently
Time to check out the Learn subscription...
  • Posted Tue 03 Apr 2018 12:47 PM EDT
I'm with Julie Whitney on the Operational Excellence track.  Does anyone have a "Best Practices" for getting the ED to sign off on the costs of training? :)
  • Posted Tue 03 Apr 2018 01:37 PM EDT
One of the main reasons I left my last job was due to the lack of education opportunities. We had RE but they would never allocate any training opportunities to our budget. I have taken so many classes in the past three years at Alive Hospice. It's amazing what can happen when you allow your employees to learn and flurish. 
  • Posted Tue 03 Apr 2018 04:04 PM EDT
Thanks for this post. I found several Best Practices classes that would be helpful for us!
  • Posted Tue 03 Apr 2018 04:17 PM EDT
I have taken a couple of the Fundraising Best Practices classes, and they have been super helpful, especially for someone relatively newish to Fundraising. Looking forward to taking more classes when I can!
  • Posted Wed 04 Apr 2018 01:55 PM EDT
We love the support and information at our fingertips with Blackbaud. Knowledgebase and the Community have become my Google for FE questions :) 
  • Posted Wed 04 Apr 2018 02:55 PM EDT
Thank you for posting this!
  • Posted Wed 04 Apr 2018 04:02 PM EDT
I bookmarked the Best Practices page.  I'll share this with everyone at my job.  Awesome!
  • Posted Thu 05 Apr 2018 12:58 PM EDT
I'm looking forward to learning more about this during our next fiscal year!
  • Posted Thu 05 Apr 2018 03:35 PM EDT
I just started here with my new position about 9 months ago.  Previously, I have had experience with Kintera and Convio but this is my first experience with Financial Edge and Raiser's Edge.  So far, I've taken several of the online training classes and have really enjoyed them.  The instructors have been great! 
  • Posted Mon 09 Apr 2018 04:32 PM EDT
Great categories for Organizaional Best practices.
  • Posted Tue 10 Apr 2018 09:39 AM EDT
The Learn subscription is so useful when you have new employees. They can get an introduction to the database and then you are only having to teach them your organizations quirky stuff.
  • Posted Tue 10 Apr 2018 09:58 AM EDT
We are hoping to be able to add the Learn training subscription in our next fiscal year's budget. I've been in my current position for 6 years and with the Zoo for a total of 9 years. Definitely a LOT of trial and error learning. It's been fun to explore so many parts of a non-profit, but it is definitely a place where you wear a lot of hats! Looking forward to reading more on the opportunities available to us. Thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Tue 10 Apr 2018 12:28 PM EDT
Thank you - will watch for further opportunities.
  • Posted Tue 10 Apr 2018 01:29 PM EDT
A big part of our decision to use Blackbaud software was the Blackbaud Training program. It has proven to be an invaluable tool for us!
  • Posted Tue 10 Apr 2018 01:40 PM EDT
I have completed the classes for the FE Professional Certification.  Just need to take the exams.  I have started before but this time I want to complete the series.  I learned something from each class, every little hint and reminder helps move the day along.
  • Posted Fri 13 Apr 2018 01:02 PM EDT
Thanks for this list . I am going to check them out. :)
  • Posted Tue 17 Apr 2018 02:51 PM EDT
Thank you for sharing. I look forward to engaging more into Organizational Best Practices, I feel you can never stop learning or limit yourself on best practices in keeping up to current methods.
  • Posted Tue 17 Apr 2018 04:22 PM EDT
We have had the Learn Everything subscription for the past year. It has been invaluable in training new team members on Raiser's Edge and NXT. Everyone on the team has been able to participate and use the training to be more efficient and proficient.
  • Posted Tue 17 Apr 2018 05:42 PM EDT
I've been interested in getting my team on board with the training subscription, but I can barely get them to take the time to watch the free videos we have access to. How do you make your coworkers take the time to educate themselves so you don't waste your training dollars?
  • Posted Thu 19 Apr 2018 05:15 PM EDT
I love that we are now gettignb an oportunity to show our skills and learn more where lacking. So many good topics.
  • Posted Mon 23 Apr 2018 01:20 PM EDT
The Learn subscription has been very helpful the only hard part was getting employees to take the classes as they were so use to just asking me or someone in person.  Now many people enjoy the classes and calling support
  • Posted Mon 23 Apr 2018 04:38 PM EDT
I have taken and completed several of the on-line courses in RE - and probably half the time, I wished I had done this earlier and saved the trial and error of my ways in this new system...I didn't have much of a training session here, and the supervisor who hired me quit 2 weeks after I started?!  WTH?  Way to go for me!  LOL.

  • Posted Mon 23 Apr 2018 06:57 PM EDT
If you are a Blackbaud Champion you can earn points for various activities. Points can be redeemed for various things including - wait for it - Certification training and testing. I took my Certification tests (Fundamentals and Pro) for $0 - I paid with points earned as a Champion!
  • Posted Tue 24 Apr 2018 12:26 PM EDT
A lot of what you say does sound familiar. One of the reasons I took my current job is for the educational opportunities. We have the training subscription and it is awesome. One of my challenges is getting other staff members to take advantage of the educational opportunities but so long as I can, I will. 
  • Posted Tue 24 Apr 2018 04:40 PM EDT
We have the learn subscription so I take all opportunities to lear more.  I will have to check out these classes.
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 11:51 AM EDT
Is there a way you can tell from your account if you have a Learn Subscription or not?  I poked around just now but wasn't sure...
  • Posted Mon 30 Apr 2018 01:24 PM EDT
The Learn Everything package is the best investment our organisation has made. The tutors are great and the content is so helpful.
  • Posted Tue 01 May 2018 02:50 AM EDT
Love the Learn Subscription I have been here 18 years and finally we have some training so helpful
  • Posted Wed 02 May 2018 01:38 PM EDT
I'm going to check out the Operational Excellence learning path. This seems very interesting.
  • Posted Fri 04 May 2018 08:11 AM EDT
I'm looking forward to taking some of the training tracks listed!
  • Posted Fri 04 May 2018 08:53 AM EDT
Best Practices are always helpful and most appreciated!
  • Posted Mon 07 May 2018 11:09 AM EDT
Thank you.  We shared your blog with our staff. 
  • Posted Wed 09 May 2018 10:35 AM EDT
How do I find out if my organization has a Learn training subscription?  I am one of the administrators for my organization.
  • Posted Thu 10 May 2018 09:13 AM EDT
I had no idea that these classes existed. I'm very excited to take the Operational Excellence courses.
  • Posted Tue 29 May 2018 01:27 PM EDT
Great Blog - very inspiring!
  • Posted Wed 30 May 2018 02:13 PM EDT
These categories are good, but it would be helpful if there was another category for those who aren't fundraisers, for example, I am a prospect researcher and it would be great to see a section for those in a data-related field.
  • Posted Fri 01 Jun 2018 03:21 PM EDT
Very interesting!
  • Posted Mon 04 Jun 2018 11:33 AM EDT
The Learn Subscription is wonderful; it's truly been a lifesaver for me.  I've taken all of the classes that have been offered and am constantly recommending them to my coworkers because I feel like they can learn more from the classes than they can from me.
  • Posted Mon 04 Jun 2018 12:23 PM EDT
My school is 100% on board with the training I want on the on products and Education Edge before that. I don't think anyone else ever wanted to do any training. There's so much to learn every day!
  • Posted Mon 04 Jun 2018 02:39 PM EDT
Can't wait to look into these offerings more. I think they'd be very helpful for our department as a whole!
  • Posted Mon 04 Jun 2018 03:48 PM EDT
FEMO - got it! ;) This is very important, Amy. Thank you for this clear organization.
  • Posted Mon 04 Jun 2018 04:07 PM EDT
Great choices - wish we had the $'s to up.
  • Posted Mon 04 Jun 2018 08:02 PM EDT
This is great information - thanks for sharing!
  • Posted Tue 05 Jun 2018 12:13 PM EDT
I'm all about working efficiently! The Operational Excellence is something I need to look into.
  • Posted Tue 05 Jun 2018 02:53 PM EDT
It was extremely exciting when my organization decided to get the Learn Pass.  I've been taking as many of the training opportunities as possible since.
  • Posted Fri 08 Jun 2018 10:00 AM EDT
I'd really like to take some of the Best Practices courses, but unfortunately my organization didn't purchase a subscription to that.  Are there places where I can find some free information about Best Practices?
  • Posted Fri 08 Jun 2018 10:05 AM EDT
I like have learning on demand; I can get the training I need right when I need it. 
  • Posted Mon 11 Jun 2018 03:15 PM EDT
What course is best for a membership manager?
  • Posted Mon 11 Jun 2018 04:19 PM EDT
Great information! Thanks for sharing! :)
  • Posted Thu 14 Jun 2018 04:38 PM EDT
Thanks for the information! I'm so thankful for google and having information at our fingertips!
  • Posted Mon 18 Jun 2018 10:38 AM EDT
Thanks for the post! I found the categories to be most helpful. As always, Community is the first place to turn to for answers!
  • Posted Mon 25 Jun 2018 12:33 PM EDT
Good information - thank you for sharing.
  • Posted Mon 02 Jul 2018 10:48 AM EDT
I love the bit-sized 3 hour training courses! When I first began working with Blackbaud in Sphere, these were some of the best tools that allowed me to grow faster, outside of just completing the daily To Do list. They were thorough enough to allow me to start learning completely new products too! And I went on to support those products more in depth down the line :) 
  • Posted Tue 03 Jul 2018 12:48 PM EDT
I've found the Blackbaud training subscriptions to be a GREAT tool in helping new staff get up to speed!
  • Posted Tue 03 Jul 2018 05:05 PM EDT
Great information, thank you for posting!
  • Posted Wed 18 Jul 2018 11:19 AM EDT
Didn't know virtual classes were offered!
  • Posted Tue 24 Jul 2018 08:05 AM EDT
Totally agree with this sentiment. I always encourage my colleagues to empower themselves by not waiting for somebody to teach them something. This practice has always served me well!
  • Posted Tue 24 Jul 2018 02:20 PM EDT
Thanks for this. The best practices section is one of my favorites in the Community, and I imagine the classes have a ton of useful information.

To those who want tips on getting the ED to sign off - give them data to work with. Emotion alone does not (usually) win over leaders no matter how compelling. Outline the costs, the benefits, and the ROI. Be honest in your written assessment and outline the challenges that might arise, and how they will be addressed. Share not only the sales reasons, but independent success stories from other organizations. With all growth and development ideas I place a heavy emphasis on substantiating why donors would want their funds to go toward the project. How does it support the org.'s mission?
  • Posted Sat 28 Jul 2018 04:22 PM EDT
I am new into the fundraising world and would love to take some fundraising best practice courses. I will have to look into them. 
  • Posted Fri 10 Aug 2018 01:27 PM EDT