Many Pies

Many Pies

Monday, March 18, 2013

MailChimp and Blackbaud NetCommunity - pros and cons

When we got the bill for sending out emails through Blackbaud NetCommunity I did the maths and worked out it cost us 35p for each email we sent. We pay a certain amount for up to a certain amount of emails in the year. Because we didn't use that much of the allowance, that's what the cost worked out at. So not that much cheaper than sending by post. If we'd sent up to the limit it would have cost us 7p per email. So cheaper, but not free.

So I did a comparison of MailChimp versus NetCommunity. If we went with MailChimp we'd use the Chimpegration plugin from Zeldman Development. Here's what I came up with.

Blackbaud NetCommunity

Pros

You can see who gives as a result of a clickthrough from an email.
No need to manually export lists.
You can run email campaigns (a feature we don't currently use).
You can share images with the main BBNC site (which we don't do much in practise).

Cons

Cost, as mentioned above.
Composing emails with the HTML editor is tricky and it's easy to lose formatting.

MailChimp

Pros

Cheap - $10/month for 500 subscribers (free option available too)
You can use a template language to restrict the places where people writing the emails can fill in text.
You can use a dropdown to pick up a predefined style.
Nice image upload/edit facility.
You can show archives on your site.

Cons

You need a manual step to import the email list.
If you don't have the Blackbaud email service then you will need to write some custom software to acknowledge donations by email.

In the end it was the last point that meant we stuck with Blackbaud NetCommunity, at least for another year.

Update: had I started to write something for gift acknowledgement I would soon have discovered that MailChimp's newsletters weren't suitable, as David Zeidman has already, though there is another possibility:





Update 2: We're thinking of going with Blackbaud Online Express when it can handle UK Direct Debits.

Update 3: Here's the first of my posts on Online Express.
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