Salesforce.org acquires creator of NGO Connect fundraising software

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Salesforce.org, which specializes in nonprofit customer relationship management systems, has acquired roundCorner, creator of the NGO Connect software used by dozens of public broadcasting stations and other nonprofits.

The Contributor Development Partnership, a seed investor in Philadelphia-based roundCorner before its 2009 launch, received a payout from the transaction, though financial terms were not disclosed. CDP’s share will be reinvested in its services in public media fundraising, including the Salesforce.org platform and technology innovation, said CDP CEO Ben Godley.

CDP partnered with roundCorner in 2010 to build NGOC on the Salesforce.org platform. The customized system helps nonprofits collaborate across departments. Its client base has since grown to attract some 40 public stations and nonprofits such as the Salvation Army and Girl Scouts of the USA.

Salesforce.org “recognized the power and value of roundCorner’s solution and its importance in helping public media organizations better serve their constituents,” Godley said in an announcement.

A Salesforce.org spokesperson hinted at possible changes ahead for NGOC in an email to Current Thursday. “Our team is currently evaluating how to best combine the features and capabilities of roundCorner solutions with our complete offerings for nonprofits, education institutions and philanthropic organizations,” the spokesperson said.

That’s what David Preston at TPT in St. Paul, Minn., believes will happen. “I think Salesforce.org may be buying roundCorner to enhance the products they have,” said Preston, VP of member and viewer services. “Not too many years down the road, maybe we’ll see one product” integrating the best of NGOC and similar Salesforce.org software, Nonprofit Success Pack.

TPT has been an NGOC station since 2014. “I don’t see any bad sides to this deal at all,” Preston said. He feels the acquisition will provide more resources to NGOC client stations. Salesforce.org “has a large commitment to working with nonprofits,” he said. “We get really good pricing on add-ons because we’re a nonprofit.”

But executives at Oregon Public Broadcasting were “concerned and curious” when they heard the announcement, said Anne Ibach, director of membership. “We don’t really know how this acquisition will change our current CRM picture,” Ibach said.

Ibach was among the public media NGOC clients who joined a conference call with representatives from Salesforce.org and NGOC shortly after the Jan. 15 announcement. While Salesforce.org reps “expressed a commitment to serving NGOC clients, they did not present a clear roadmap for the future of NGOC,” she said.

Ibach said OPB has been using NGOC for about 2 1/2 years after switching from Blackbaud’s Team Approach. “We needed a system that would connect more easily to vendors and to other tech systems in house,” she said. OPB also wanted more automation in operations and marketing, and easier access to data for “everyone within development and eventually others in the organization.”

NGOC achieves the flexibility and functionality that OPB was after, Ibach said. But that more flexible system also created “significant demands on staff time.”

One example is NGOC’s sustainer functionality, she said. “It isn’t where it needs to be for organizations with significant sustainer programs,” Ibach said. “It requires a lot of manual work and staff time to manage the program in NGOC.” So OPB created a new position, CRM administrator, to manage data and processes.

Ibach is looking forward to integrating NGOC into OPB’s website and other platforms “to enable us to engage more deeply with our members and prospects to drive member acquisition and retention.” She also sees it as a way to connect different tools that the rest of the organization uses, such as its systems for customer service ticketing and automated email marketing.

Detroit Public TV has done that, by linking staffers who work on all types of fundraising — from membership to corporate support and major gifts — to the NGOC database.

“Everything is included,” said Ryan Laurie, individual giving VP. “If someone in member services gets a phone call, they can see that this account belongs to this person. Before it was all segmented. So this is a big plus.”

Laurie sees the Salesforce.org deal as “a good thing. We’re not concerned at this point, and there’s nothing to indicate we should be.” The station has been an NGOC client since July 2017.

KQED in San Francisco began using NGOC in April 2014, said Membership VP Marianne Petroni. It’s been “a more robust platform for our fundraising efforts” than the previous Team Approach.

Petroni said she is “confident that the transition will be seamless, and we expect the same level of service as we have now.”

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