Industry Opinion: Why I'm Optimistic About Blackbaud's Acquisition of Convio
The second and more important reason is that because of the different competencies of the two companies, most clients use a mix of both systems. It is very common to find a Convio front end feeding a Blackbaud back end. It is also very common to find frustrated IT managers and fundraisers in the middle, trying to get the two systems to play well together. This acquisition not only brings with it the promise of more seamless integration, it also could vastly reduce administrative headaches throughout an organization — reducing multiple invoices, sales visits, service calls and so forth to one point of contact.
Why I'm optimistic
That same conclusion has already led some observers to worry about the move. I've read concerns that this change will reduce the leverage of the nonprofit buyer — leverage that many would say is already at a low point. In only six hours since the announcement, I've also heard worries that the acquisition will lead to higher prices, lower service, slower technological development and less choice.
I'll admit, those are legitimate concerns. But from my vantage point, I don't think they are realistic. Here's why.
First, many nonprofits already use — or wish they could use — both systems. Change comes slowly in our space, particularly when large systems (with correspondingly large financial outlays) are at play. Consolidating those products, designers and engineers is only going to benefit end users of the systems. I know of fundraisers at several large nonprofits who have literally agonized over the choice between Convio or Blackbaud. That's wasted time that can go back to mission.
Second, I like the mix of skills and competencies. Event 360's team works with both systems, so I know people at both companies. There are fantastic, smart people at both organizations. And like all competitors, they spend time worrying about each other. I can't wait to see what those teams do when they combine their talents. When both groups worry more about delivering social impact than keeping up with each other, we're all going to benefit.