Is Blackbaud eTapestry
the right fit for my

What is eTapestry?


What is eTapestry? Who uses it? Why should I consider it for my organization?

You might be asking these questions if Blackbaud® eTapestry® software is on your organization’s shortlist for new donor management and fundraising software.

If you are an existing eTapestry user, you might be asking the same questions but through a different lens. Am I leveraging all that eTapestry has to offer? How do I get the most from eTapestry? Is eTapestry still a good fit? In this post, you’ll learn ways to get the most from eTapestry along with a list of eTapestry’s best features and why they matter.

Let’s explore answers to some of your most pressing questions.

What is eTapestry?

Blackbaud eTapestry is an all-in-one cloud based donor management and fundraising software for small, mid-size, and growing nonprofits. Its core functionality includes a donor database and constituent relationship management (CRM) system, dashboards and custom reporting, marketing tools for email and direct mail, data analytics and data quality tools, and website integration for online donations and payment processing.

Who uses eTapestry?

A broad spectrum of nonprofit organizations use eTapestry software. Blackbaud eTapestry is primarily geared for small, growing organizations but is also used by midsize and larger organizations with less than 50,000 total constituent records.

Blackbaud eTapestry appeals to a broad spectrum of nonprofit organizations because it is easy and fast to implement, cloud-based and accessible 24/7, offers unlimited users, and is packed with the majority of features needed to set up and sustain a small shop development office.

Across all of these types, eTapestry deploys nearly any fundraising strategy including memberships, events, major gifts and stewardship, grants, online, direct mail, email, planned giving, tribute and memorial, recurring giving, and pledge making.

Here are some examples of the types of organizations that use eTapestry.

  • Arts, culture, and humanities organizations
  • Education (all levels) and schools
  • Health, human services, and social service organizations
  • Religious organizations
  • Policy and advocacy organizations
  • Housing-focused organizations
  • Food banks and pantries
  • Historical locations, monuments, and buildings
  • Foundations

Why is eTapestry great for small, midsize, and growing nonprofits?

There are five core eTapestry features that make it a great fit for nonprofits of many sizes and across a variety of sectors.

  • 1. Full CRM functionality

    Blackbaud eTapestry is a CRM at its core. It tracks and manages the relationships you have with donors, volunteers, staff, board members, partners, vendors, prospects, and any other groups of constituents that are important to your organization.

    eTapestry tracks profile information for every constituent including contact information, demographics, characteristics, and preferences. eTapestry also tracks interaction histories for every constituent including gifts, pledges, pledge payments, soft credits, phone calls, emails, and meetings. Beyond that, eTapestry tracks relationships between constituents like households and employer/employee relationships, among others.

    Everything you need to keep complete records on all of your constituents and donors is in eTapestry. In addition, the data entry screens are user-friendly, making it easy for new users to dive right in.

  • 2. Simple website integration and payment processing

    Payment processing isn’t a unique feature to eTapestry, but it is a simple feature to integrate and use in eTapestry.

    For starters, eTapestry offers a number of payment processing options including Blackbaud Merchant Services, IATS, and Sage Payment Processing. Some of the payment processors even process EFT/ACH transactions in addition to credit card transactions.

    The primary benefit of integrated payment processing is the ability to automatically process scheduled payments (pledges and recurring gifts).

    • A recurring gift automatically processes on the set frequency until a stop date is entered for the gift.
    • A pledge payment automatically processes (if set to auto-process) on the scheduled payment dates until the pledge is paid off.

    Automated payment processing also integrates with your website donation forms. Simply create an online donation form, copy the code, paste the code into a page on your website and you can start collecting online donations immediately.

    Automating online donations in eTapestry is easy to set up and requires no web development expertise.

    After a donor submits a donation through an eTapestry DIY form on your website:

    1. The donation is sent to your eTapestry database where eTapestry determines if the constituent already exists in the database. If the constituent exists, the system appends the gift to that constituent’s journal. If the constituent doesn’t exist, the system adds a constituent account and adds the gift to the new constituent’s journal.
    2. As the gift is posted to the journal of the constituent, the integrated eTapestry payment processor processes the gift. The funds are deposited in your bank account based on the payment processor deposit schedule.
    3. While the first two steps are happening, a confirmation email is sent to you for the new gift and an acknowledgment email is sent to the donor confirming their gift and thanking them for their gift. This feature is a major benefit!
    4. If a recurring gift was made through the form, that gift will continue to automatically process into the future based on the schedule set by the donor.
  • 3. Free and open API

    API stands for “application programming interface.” The Blackbaud® eTapestry® API is a connector to the back-end of your eTapestry database. The eTapestry API allows custom eTapestry integrations to access, create, and modify data in your database.

    The eTapestry API is free to use. Blackbaud eTapestry API integrations require custom programming knowledge and expertise, but allow for near unlimited customization of web forms, custom applications, and integrations.

    The eTapestry API makes this list of top features because customizations are limitless. Not all APIs with other donor management software are free to access and use, but any eTapestry user can extend the power of their database with custom designed applications that run with the eTapestry API.

    eTapestry Integrations

    The eTapestry API also makes eTapestry extensible. You can integrate eTapestry with a variety of third-party applications and software.

    We (Sidekick Solutions) offer special integrations for applications like MailChimp, PayPal, Eventbrite, Shopify, Xero, and QuickBooks Online. Contact us to learn more about eTapestry integrations.

  • 4. Administrator control of data

    As an eTapestry administrator, you want total control over your data. Accessibility to your data is a must-have.

    Data management and data administration are benefits of the eTapestry platform. While eTapestry doesn’t provide ultimate control over your data — you cannot mass delete records from your database — it does have most of the tools you’ll need to manage a healthy database.

    • Query and Report – Export any data set from eTapestry
    • Import – Add constituents, gifts, transactions, and notes to eTapestry in batch
    • Mass Update – Update accounts, personas, transactions, notes, and contacts in a query with a specific set of fields
    • Mass Create – Create new relationships, notes, contacts, and scheduled payments and recurring gifts in a query
    • Mass Edit – Using queries, reports, and imports, you can mass edit accounts with varying fields and field values in Excel (good for account cleanup)
    • NCOA Update – Automatically update and standardize mailing addresses

    The features listed above are relatively robust for a donor management system of eTapestry’s size.

  • 5. Custom fields and coding

    Every organization is unique. Fundraising methods, operational functions, and data management needs vary. Your organization can customize its eTapestry database beyond standard fundraising data sets with user-defined fields.

    Custom fields provide flexibility for data tracking. You can add an unlimited number of custom fields to your eTapestry database. Here are some examples of data you can track with user-defined fields.

    • Constituent segmentation
    • Volunteer management and activity tracking
    • Grant management
    • Moves management and major gift fundraising
    • Planned gifts
    • Special event management and ticket purchases
    • Membership management
    • Surveys and constituent feedback

    Data-driven fundraisers also want to know that the strategies and tactics they use are effective (e.g. cost per dollar raised, return on fundraising strategy, or total received by strategy). eTapestry is ready to fill the appetite of data hungry fundraising professionals by coding revenue with a simple, three-field classification: funds, campaigns, and approaches. Each transaction in eTapestry can be flagged with one value for each of these fields. Revenue classification is a top eTapestry benefit because the database comes pre-loaded with standard reports and dashboards for the fund, campaign, and approach fields. Dashboard tiles display campaign and approach performance toward a goal and standard reports offer a full view of performance in a single report.

Further reading and other resources

If you are taking a deeper dive into eTapestry and completing an intentional search for new donor management and fundraising software, check out these additional eTapestry resources for more information.

What are my best next steps?

If Blackbaud eTapestry makes your shortlist of viable software options, you will need more information to determine if it is a good fit for your organization.

Consider these next steps.

  1. Define your fundraising strategy – What are you planning to track and accomplish with eTapestry? Attempt to outline your fundraising strategy and how that might align with specific features in eTapestry. This map does not need to be perfect. It should be in your own words and it should make sense to you. You will use the outcome of this mapping task to describe your feature requirements to a vendor or consultant before a demo. Having a features list going into the sales demo will help you evaluate software options based on your organization’s specific needs.
  2. Sign up for a demo  – A demo will be valuable if you have a vision of how eTapestry will support your fundraising strategy. Take your features list into a demo. Be prepared to ask questions and gather the information you need to complete your eTapestry software evaluation. Blackbaud eTapestry demos usually last between 45-60 minutes and depending on the outcome of the first demo you may request an additional session for follow-up questions and topics.
  3. Solicit peer reviews and references – Your initial research and the eTapestry software demo will provide one perspective on the software. Validate your initial impressions or disprove them by soliciting feedback from peer organizations that use eTapestry day to day. Peer reviews and references are the best way to gather practical, unfiltered information about eTapestry from primary sources. Existing users of eTapestry will understand how to be successful with eTapestry, what pitfalls to avoid (if any), and what they wish they would have known when they were in your shoes evaluating eTapestry for the first time. Whether the outcome of peer reviews and references are positive or negative, the insight gained will be invaluable.