The Best Alternative to Blackbaud Grantmaking

If you’re looking for an alternative to Blackbaud Grantmaking, here are the top reasons to consider Submittable. 

Submittable and Blackbaud Grantmaking are both popular platforms relied upon by grantmakers of all sizes to manage their grantmaking process from start to finish: from collecting applications, through collaborative review, through reporting on impact. 

However, there are clear distinctions between the products. And with legacy Blackbaud customers required to switch to their new SKY view product by October 1, 2021, many may be contemplating using this transition as an opportunity to consider other solutions. 

If you’re comparing Submittable to Blackbaud Grantmaking, here’s everything you need to know.

Features at a Glance

 SubmittableBlackbaud Grantmaking
Collecting applications  
Online form builder with many question types
Eligibility quizzes
Branded portals
File uploads
Charity validation through Candid (formerly Guidestar)
Third party references
Conditional logicUnknown
Real time collaboration for applicantsX
Ability to duplicate formsX
Customer support for applicantsX
Review and workflow  
Ability to conceal applicant identity from reviewersLimited
Self-service editing of forms and response templates (no IT or support needed)X
Ability to take bulk actionsX
Simple and advanced reviews
Customized review processes with multiple stages
In-app communication
Automated reminders and notifications
Search and filter tools
Reporting and funding  
Funds tracking
Funds distributionX
API access
Accessibility and security  
Attained a VPATUnknown
VPAT conformance100% Supports or Partially SupportsUnknown
FERPA compliantUnknown
SOC 2 Type 2 compliantUnknown
HIPAA compliantUnknown
PCI compliant
Single sign on
Data hostAmazon Web ServicesSelf-hosted
Originally designed as a cloud-based solutionX
Available on all browsers for all usersX
G2 overall rating4.4/53.4/5
G2 product direction rating7.8/104.2/10
Capterra overall rating4.8/53.7/5
Capterra likelihood to recommend94.3%16.7%

Top reasons to choose Submittable over Blackbaud Grantmaking

These top differentiators may help you determine whether Submittable is the best solution for your organization.

1. Submittable is a single, out-of-the-box solution

Submittable has been around for over a decade. Over that time, we’ve added an arsenal of new features to the solution, from impact reporting, to funds distribution, to automated review. All of these abilities are available to Submittable users within the single, comprehensive, easy-to-use Submittable platform.

By contrast, the Blackbaud solution has evolved over the years to encompass a suite of 40 separate and distinct products, of which Blackbaud Grantmaking is one. 

For organizations deeply ingrained with the Blackbaud suite of products—and with the budget to add another of their products to their entourage of business applications—Blackbaud Grantmaking may be the right choice. 

As one reviewer put it on the software review site G2:

“I would recommend the software, but only if your organization already uses Blackbaud products.”  

Reviewer on software review site G2

Certain key functions, like reporting and gathering follow-up data from applicants, happens outside of Blackbaud Grantmaking—in a product called Blackbaud Outcomes. Direct payment of funds, similarly, is not possible within Blackbaud Grantmaking without an integration with yet another costly product, Blackbaud Financial Edge. 

Indeed, even for those organizations that have purchased a number of Blackbaud solutions, the clunky integration between their own products has been a point of frustration. 

As one reviewer put it on the software review site Capterra: 

“I’m still frustrated at the lack of integration between Blackbaud’s suite of products.”

Reviewer on software review site Capterra

Another Blackbaud Grantmaking reviewer on the software review site TrustRadius observed:

The other [Blackbaud] products do not communicate seamlessly with each other. They may as well be owned by other companies. 

Reviewer on software review site TrustRadius

Submittable offers integrations with major CRMs such as Salesforce, as well as integrations with accounting software, fundraising software, and hundreds of other major business applications. 

So you have the flexibility to work with the solutions your organization already uses, and you’re not locked-in to Blackbaud’s ecosystem of products, which tend not to have a seamless relationship.

An out-of-the-box solution like Submittable has benefits for your bottom line, too. Submittable is rated more highly for Value for Money on the software review site Capterra (4.6, vs. 3 for Blackbaud Grantmaking).

Value for Money rating comparing Submittable with Blackbaud Grantmaking on Capterra

2. Submittable is easier to use

We often hear from customers who choose Submittable over Blackbaud Grantmaking that the intuitiveness of the platform was a key piece of the decision-making process. 

As a reviewer on the software site TrustRadius put it: 

“Because [Blackbaud] is so complex it is not very intuitive to learn at the beginning—trying to align our workflow with the modules was challenging.”

Reviewer on software review site TrustRadius

Another reviewer on Capterra pointed out that the time it took to learn how to use the product created a strain on their staff:

We are a small foundation, with a small staff, and the complexities of Blackbaud Grantmaking end up being very time consuming for an already over extended employee.  

Reviewer on software review site Capterra

Contrast that with Submittable: Remaining accessible to the less-than-tech-savvy among us is a central focus of our design and product teams. As the solution has evolved, our north star has always been to make a software that can do complex things without ever being complex itself. 

“Form creation [with Submittable] was easy to figure out. I was a little filled with dread the first time, but as soon as I started working in the form builder, it was just really intuitive. Same with the response templates—it’s simple to find everything I need. As only a semi-technical person, that’s empowering.”

Mariah McPherson, Executive Director, New Belgium Family Foundation

Submittable is far more highly rated for Ease of Use on software review sites G2 (9.0 for Submittable to 6.5 for Blackbaud Grantmaking) and Capterra (4.7 for Submittable to 3.3 for Blackbaud Grantmaking).

Ease of Use rating comparing Submittable with Blackbaud Grantmaking on G2
Ease of Use rating comparing Submittable with Blackbaud Grantmaking on Capterra

3. Submittable offers more flexibility

The events of 2020 changed philanthropy in many ways. Increasingly, grantmakers are turning to trust-based principles, such as increased flexibility and responsiveness.

In fact, in a survey of customers, Submittable found that following the COVID-19 pandemic,  

  • 70% of grantmakers became more flexible generally, and 
  • 1 in 3 grantmakers became more responsive generally.

Submittable’s platform provides easy, self-service tools that facilitate these values.

For example, editing forms and personalizing response templates for sending messages in Submittable are straightforward processes that users can undertake at any point in their process on their own

By contrast, with Blackbaud Grantmaking, these customizations must be performed by Blackbaud’s customer service team. 

As one reviewer put it on the software review site G2:

It was very frustrating that if we wanted anything customized [in Blackbaud Grantmaking], we couldn’t do that ourselves.

Reviewer on software review site G2

As another reviewer put it on software review site Capterra:

[Blackbaud Grantmaking] has many technical issue [sic] with implementing add-ons and customization. It can’t be done without IT specialists. 

Reviewer on software review site Capterra

The agility of the Submittable platform to allow for changes once a program is underway is something that many grantmakers prize highly. 

For this, we just really knew that we needed to be able to be flexible, both concerning the backend and then also with how we’re running the process. We wanted to build it with the ability to be iterative as we went along.

Brian McGuigan, Program Director of Artist Trust, Submittable customer 

If you’re embracing trust-based principles, such as learning as you go and making changes to reduce the burden on applicants—for example, removing a redundant question—the ability to do so on your own, in the moment, without relying on a customer service team, could be a key consideration. 

Want to see for yourself?

Explore Submittable’s proven process in action, including application collection, collaboration with your team, review and decision-making, and reporting on results, in our six-minute demo video. 


4. Submittable can launch a new program more quickly

Together, the three factors explored above—

  • An all-in-one solution
  • An intuitive interface
  • A more flexible platform

—all add up to a faster time to launch with Submittable than Blackbaud Grantmaking—even for robust granting programs. 

With just a single software purchase, Submittable has you ready to go, from application collection and communication to funds tracking and disbursement to reporting on impact.

Since it’s so easy to use, customers can create forms and workflows and launch new applications quickly. 

And with self-service flexibility, you don’t need to call in IT or customer support every time you tweak a small part of your process. In fact:

Submittable’s average customer time-to-launch is only fourteen days after signing up. 

Even large organizations, with complex needs and anticipating thousands of applications, can benefit from the fastest available time to launch on a grants management solution. 

As a case in point, in light of COVID-19, hundreds of grantmakers flocked to Submittable to launch brand new emergency grants quickly. The State of Montana, for example, was looking for a way to distribute 1.25 billion in CARES act dollars as quickly as possible to help businesses that were hurting. With careful organization, Submittable had them up and running smoothly in a matter of weeks. 

As Senior Budget Analyst Angie Nelson at the State of Montana put it: 

Submittable was awarded Fastest Implementation for Grant Management Software, Spring 2020, by G2

“I’ve worked with different application softwares over the years for both grant management and for other purposes in the office. Submittable provides quick turnaround when you can edit your own forms—and it doesn’t require a lot of training to learn how to do that.” 

Angie Nelson, Senior Budget Analyst, State of Montana

The flexibility to be able to respond to an evolving situation with agility and speed has been a key differentiator to many Submittable customers. 

In Spring 2020, Submittable was awarded the Fastest Implementation award for grant management software by G2.

5. Submittable was originally designed as a cloud-based solution

Submittable was originally conceived and optimized as a cloud-based solution available across all major browsers and devices. 

Blackbaud Grantmaking, on the other hand, was originally designed as an “on-premises”  solution. This classic Blackbaud Grantmaking product introduces some frustrations that you don’t typically find with web applications. As one example, it is only accessible via Internet Explorer 11

The new SKY view, cloud-based version of the Blackbaud Grantmaking product, is currently available to their legacy customers. However, not all functionality is yet available. As of this writing, features remaining unavailable on SKY view, according to the Blackbaud Grantmaking Help Center, include: 

  • Managing funds,
  • Editing reports, and 
  • Reminders

—among others.

Some customers may find that running a grantmaking process out of two systems at once is a time consuming and frustrating experience..

6. Submittable has best-in-class security

Submittable data is hosted exclusively with Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

All Submittable data is encrypted at rest as well as in transit between our VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) and our end users. 

Blackbaud is a self-hosted cloud solutions vendor. In February 2020, their self-hosted environment was attacked by cyber criminals. Blackbaud’s Form 8-K filing with the SEC revealed that: 

…for some of the notified customers, the cybercriminal may have accessed some unencrypted fields intended for bank account information, social security numbers, usernames and/or passwords.

Blackbaud Form 8-K filing with the SEC

Submittable is also GDPR, PCI, HIPAA and FERPA compliant, as well as SOC Type 2 certified.

While some Blackbaud products are HIPAA compliant and SOC 2 Type 2 certified, the security page on their website includes the caveat that “compliance certifications and assessments may vary by product.” Publicly accessible information does not specify if Blackbaud Grantmaking is either SOC 2 Type 2 certified or HIPAA compliant. The Blackbaud security webpage makes no mention of FERPA.

7. Submittable allows for form duplication and bulk actions

Submittable offers customers the ability to take bulk actions and duplicate forms: major time-saving tools that Submittable customers love and rely on. 

“Building applications is so much easier now [with Submittable]. Before, we were building everything from scratch, but now we have forms we can duplicate and revise as we see fit or as we need to.”

Dylan Pickus, Manager of Artistic Programs, SPACE on Ryder Farm

Blackbaud Grantmaking does not support these time-saving tools. 

8. Submittable has better tools to reduce bias in the review process

Many program administrators take advantage of tools to conceal the identity of applicants in order to reduce implicit bias among review teams. In fact, such capabilities are considered essential in service of goals around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Submittable and Blackbaud Grantmaking both offer such features. 

However, users of Blackbaud Grantmaking cannot anonymize applicants when gathering third-party references due to a deficiency in the way these two features work in their product. As the Knowledge Base specifies, “[Reference] questionnaires will contain applicant names and this feature of the Reference Questionnaire cannot be turned off.” 

Many Submittable clients enjoy taking advantage of the Reference Forms feature, without worry that it will compromise the concealed identity of applicants.

9. Submittable offers real-time applicant collaboration

Submittable also offers the ability for applicants to collaborate in real time on a form with each other. They can simply invite collaborators to join the application, and see real-time field presence, just like Google documents. This is a valuable tool for when grantees must manage an application among a remote team. 

Blackbaud Grantmaking does not offer a similar real-time applicant collaboration tool. 

“The collaborative tools in Submittable are invaluable.”

Kate McNair, Teen Services Coordinating Librarian, Elementia 

10. Submittable can display submissions in a visual online gallery

The democratization of the grantmaking process is an emerging theme among modern philanthropists. One way Submittable clients can increase transparency and accessibility of their process within their community is through the Gallery feature.

With Gallery, photos or videos from submissions automatically populate a visually engaging online gallery. Visitors to the gallery can browse among program submissions, including photos, videos, and narrative information which your team may select in advance.

Gallery is a useful tool to share: 

  • Grant proposals at the beginning of the cycle, and allow for optional voting with a number of flexible voting parameters, or
  • Testimonials from awardees at the close of the program, telling the story of their impact in their own words. 

In either case, Gallery can be used to democratize your process, increasing transparency as well as engagement among stakeholders.

Blackbaud Grantmaking does not have a comparable Gallery feature. 

11. Submittable provides fantastic customer service

At Submittable, we pride ourselves on providing excellent customer service, from sales to implementation to customer support. 

We receive lots of positive feedback, like this:  

“I really appreciate the responsiveness and agility of the Submittable team, and by extension, the platform itself. Everyone is quick and helpful and I feel like the company really listens and responds to the needs of its customers.”

Shana Melnysyn, Research Grants Manager, University of California Humanities Research Institute

Unlike Blackbaud Grantmaking, Submittable provides customer support not only to our customers creating grant opportunities, but also to their applicants alike. 

“[With Submittable] we spend significantly less time assisting applicants and users with technical questions/issues.”

Laura Cales, Program Coordinator, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

Some Blackbaud Grantmaking customers have observed that the amount of time they must spend assisting their applicants has undermined time saved through other efficiencies gained by the software. 

Some tasks are definitely more streamlined [with Blackbaud Grantmaking]…but sometimes it seems like some admin work has just been replaced with different work, such as: database management and providing support for the applicants / grantees.

Reviewer on software review site TrustRadius

Submittable also has a robust, easily searchable self-service Help Center, with over a dozen video tutorials. 

By contrast, Blackbaud Grantmaking customers have observed:

“Accessing [Blackbaud Grantmaking] training or how-to videos can be difficult.”

Reviewer on software review site G2

Another reviewer on Capterra noted:

The [Blackbaud Grantmaking] manual is a hefty 400 pages book which you cannot be bothered to read.

Reviewer on software review site Capterra

In a recent survey of nearly 750 Submittable customers, 97% of respondents reported a positive experience with Submittable’s customer support team.

Submittable has earned considerably higher customer support scores on both Capterra (4.9, vs. 3.8 for Blackbaud Grantmaking) and G2 (9.2, vs. 6.5 for Blackbaud Grantmaking).

Customer Support rating comparing Submittable with Blackbaud Grantmaking on Capterra
Quality of Support rating comparing Blackbaud Grantmaking with Submittable on G2

It’s easy to switch—and bring your data with you

With Submittable’s Data Import service, when you switch from Blackbaud Grantmaking, you can bring your historical application data with you. This enables you to continue your programs with a single source of truth into the future. 

In the middle of a multi-year process? No problem—you can create accounts for all previous applicants, and enjoy in-app communication with applicants, as well as use tools such as Submittable’s Additional Forms to gather progress reports. 

Learn more about Submittable

Ready for the grantmaking platform of the future? We’d love to hear from you. Begin a conversation with our team today.

Methodology: This analysis was compiled from publicly-available information on Blackbaud’s website, Knowledge Base, Help Center, and other resources, as well as independent software review sites, customer testimonials, and customer surveys conducted by Submittable.

Natalya DeRobertis-Theye

Natalya is a product marketer at Submittable focused on helping organizations get a ton of value out of the platform. She is a bookworm, adventure enthusiast and card-carrying cat lady as well as a writer and yogi.