WHEN we set out with Blackbaud Pacific on the journey to put some research behind our gut feeling of where the NonProfit world was tracking adopting new integration technology, we wanted a snappy title.

So we set about trying to creatively insert ‘integration’ into ‘State of the Nation’. Think Abraham Lincoln. (Though on further research that turned out to be ‘Union’ — which doesn’t rhyme at all — but does have a certain connectivity vibe about it!).

Sadly, our integration skills apparently don’t extend to linguistic integration and the nearest we got was:

State of the (integra)nation

Which was a no-go. I should have asked Phil Stevens

HOWEVER, thankfully, the RESULTS of the survey were far more successful — a positive goldmine of insight into this key area. And this post is our take on what they told us…

2 in 5

Let’s start with the basics — the majority of organisations now have both a CRM and at least one other specialised system doing something, well, specialised (email marketing, face to face, chatbots, etc etc )
However only 2 in 5 organisations are using direct API-based integration to connect these systems. This means the rest are using manual data transfer to make these systems work together.

And it turns out this manual processing is using a sometimes staggering amount of resources to keep everything moving:

  • 2 days a week spent simply moving data was reported
  • With 3–4 people involved in the process

Which is a LOT of wasted time and resource that could have been used for their cause — not to mention the hidden cost from their teams feeling like Kermit below:

You don’t know what you don’t know…

A telling statistic was that 24% of people selected the intendedly humorous response “What is an API?” to one of the uptake questions. Which means that despite it often feeling like a buzzword — actually, some organisation still don’t have the information they need to make an informed decision around whether integration could help. And when you don’t know what you don’t know — you don’t even know the right questions to ask to get the right information.


We’ll try and do a better job of getting info out in future.

And a great place to start might be our post “Five signs your organisation is in need of a connectivity revolution” — which does exactly what it says on the tin 🙂

Too hard, too expensive, too difficult to know where to start

Now here’s an interesting one — 89% of organisations believed that integration would save them time. 62% believed it would increase accuracy. YET only 21% use it. WHY is that?!!

Here’s our theory — three (in our opinion, inaccurate) perceptions that stop you even getting started…

Too hard

Integration is definitely perceived as hard. (Yep, that’s the too-hard basket!). And if you believe you need a development team, expert knowledge and an IT strategy committee to do it — it probably is.
Truth is, you really don’t.

Tools exist that make connecting some of your simpler systems together an achievable reality, with just some tech savvy, definitely without out a developer in sight.

And organisations (like ourselves!) are out there to help with the more in-depth projects.
AND possibly more importantly what to integrate and what NOT to integrate (see point 3!)

Too expensive

To be fair, integration used to be VERY expensive. The realm of enterprise, with terms like Middleware, ETL and Enterprise Service Bus 🚌🚌🚌 to add to the mystique. But platforms like Zapier have changed all that, and the demand for connected systems from small business has created an expectation that cloud applications should support connectivity natively. All of which has created a new ecosystem of affordable options. Go ahead and get a quote — you’ll be surprised. Plus have you added up all the time that manual transfer process takes??!!

Too difficult to know where to start

Our advice — start somewhere! Pick the process with the easiest, quickest win and automate it. And if that quick-win process isn’t obvious — get an integration specialist in to review your workflows. They can also help plan ahead to build a connected ecosystem — and probably save you heaps by telling you what *not* to integrate!

Change is coming

54% of NonProfits who took part are looking to to implement API-based integration. 53% are looking to do this in the next 12 months. This means there are going to be BIG changes over the next year or two.

We are expecting a LOT of activity as more organisations move to connect their systems, in turn creating more innovation and more solutions available in the sector as volume increases.

It really is the time to start planning for this. The technology has become affordable and the knowledge and support is available to implement an effective strategy to get resources back towards your cause.

Go back to the source

You can download the full paper giving these results here
(including some classic lines 😳)

“It can be a big, inefficient mess”, notes Stu Hawkins, integration specialist and founder of Red Arc Systems

You can even watch our webinar where Greg Dellas and myself talk through the findings.

And if you’re now part of the 54% looking to find out how integrated systems will optimise your processes and make your NonProfit thrive — and you would like some help getting started — please get in contact!

Stu Hawkins

About Stu Hawkins

Stu lives in Sydney, Australia and has been to known to actually get quite emotional when he discovers someone has been unnecessarily doing work that their technology could have been doing for them. Other things that get him emotional are the firm expectation that the England football team will one day have two stars on their shirts, the Portugese Restaurant scene in Love Actually, and pretty much anything his granddaughter does..

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