Blackbaud, Inc. — The Financial Edge

The Financial Edge, from Blackbaud, Inc. is a sophisticated, easy-to-use financial product designed primarily for mid-sized to large nonprofit organizations. More than a nonprofit accounting product, The Financial Edge provides organizations with financial insight while streamlining daily activities.

The Financial Edge is available as an installed product or as a hosted version for complete system access from any location. The Financial Edge maintains an easily navigated user interface with a drop-down menu at the top of the screen, along with module choices. Clicking on a module will update the core interface screen along with the system function menu to the left of the screen. Each module provides a workflow area that houses the major functions found within that module. Users also have the option to create and customize a homepage that is available for all system modules. Data-entry screens are well laid out with drop-down menus and lookup options available throughout. Various tabs enable users to enter extensive data from a single screen.

The Financial Edge offers a wide range of modules, including GL, AP, AR, Allocation Management, Payroll, Point of Sale, Fixed Assets, Cash Receipts, Cash Management, Student Billing, Purchase Orders, Project, Grant and Endowment Management, Budget Management, Advanced Budget Management, Advanced Security, and eRequisitions. The Financial Edge also integrates with The Raiser’s Edge, a fundraising module that is widely utilized in the nonprofit world.

With the introduction of The Financial Edge for Small Offices, Blackbaud now has a product that can easily be found in nonprofit organizations and government entities of any size. Modular in structure, even larger organizations can scale up to the product level that suits their needs.

The Financial Edge offers a flexible account structure that is user-defined from beginning to end, with the ability to create or edit segment lengths or add additional segments as needed. While handling all accounting functions, The Financial Edge also manages requisitions, processes vendor invoices, records incoming cash receipts, and handles any internal check requests either manually or via a web portal, which ensures timely processing.

The Financial Edge provides excellent budget management capability, including at the project-level. The optional Advanced Budget Management module provides more in-depth budgeting solutions for areas such as payroll and employee expense management. Budgets can be created using standard data or user-defined information to ensure accuracy. The Raiser’s Edge provides an excellent donor management system, where users can easily track donations, monitor donor prospects, and track donor performance for past giving as well as projected future giving. The optional Project, Grant & Endowment Management module provides users with an additional level of tracking for each activity, project, endowment or grant. All fund accounts maintained in The Financial Edge are self-balancing. Users can choose to balance funds by class, project or segment/transaction code.

The Financial Edge also allows for multiple fiscal years with each project or grant, allowing easy cross-year reporting for each entity maintained in the system. An excellent audit trail exists throughout, providing easy access to vital information such as system transactions, including date and time and user data. The product offers a wide selection of e-features, including the ability to email invoices directly to vendors. Add-on modules such as WebInvoicing and WebPurchasing enable users to create invoices and purchase orders from remote locations.

The Financial Edge users can create an unlimited number of dashboards based on information derived from any available panel of information. All dashboards contain drill-down capability for easy information access. The Financial Edge offers what-if analysis, so users can view various scenarios and choose the one most viable for their organization. Security is multi-level, with the ability to set security levels for projects, accounts and queries, along with standard security options such as module and function level settings. The Budget Control feature can be set to warn or never allow, which will check existing budget levels for overages and will warn users accordingly. The Financial Edge also provides users with excellent collection tools, and the add-on Paper Save module allows for the management of source documents electronically. Fundraising is easy with The Raiser’s Edge, which integrates with The Financial Edge for complete donor and financial management.

All system reports can be easily customized to suit user needs. Optional products such as F9 provide additional spreadsheet report customization capability. The Financial Edge also produces required financial reports such as FASB 117 and GASB 34. Grant and endowment reporting is available through the Project, Grant and Endowment Management module. All reports can be exported to a variety of formats including Excel, HTML, Crystal Reports, ODBC, RTF, Word or XML.

The Application Programming Interface (API) makes it easy to integrate with third-party products. Common file formats used for data import and export include HTML, Excel, Word and XML. Blackbaud also offers a variety of products that are all designed to integrate with its core product to provide a complete nonprofit solution. Users can provide their accountants with a password to access system functions.

The Financial Edge offers an excellent Help function for each system module. System updates are available on the vendor’s website and can be downloaded when desired. Blackbaud’s website contains an outstanding selection of information, including user guides, FAQs, a product Knowledgebase, and a selection of training options. The Blackbaud Advantage support plans offer varying levels of support based on organizational needs.

The Financial Edge for Small Offices starts at an affordable $2,995, and is suitable for up to three users. Standard modules begin at $2,000 each. The Financial Edge is just a small portion of the financial, fundraising and donation management products offered by Blackbaud. This very comprehensive system is an ideal fit for larger nonprofits that require a high level of accountability and analysis.

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