Blackbaud Merchant Services is a merchant account provider of Blackbaud, a computer software company headquartered in Charleston, South California. Founded in 1981, Blackbaud started by providing computerized billing and later became a reliable source for expertise, cloud software, and data intelligence to medium and large non-profit organizations. Initially, the company used various prominent payment gateways for its services. It introduced a personal payment facility service called Blackbaud Merchant Services (BBMS) in 2010.
The provider offers payment solutions and products for charity, art, cultural, health organizations, educational institutes, and faith communities. Blackbaud is integrated with Venmo and PayPal and uses Wells Fargo, Chase, and First Data Canada for backend processing.
The company provides a significant range of products and services to its merchants. Blackbaud software applications that accept payment automatically come with the Blackbaud Merchant Services account. If your area has BBMS features, below is a review of their services that can benefit you as a merchant.
Blackbaud offers the Blackbaud Payment Service (BPS), which ensures level 1 PCI compliance regardless of the payment gateway used. An encrypted data storage vault with effective tokenization helps merchants with reliable payment processing by keeping their data safe.
The provider accepts digital wallets compatible with iOS and Android devices. It has ApplyPay, Visa checkout, and Masterpass, enabling merchants to process transactions through their phones anywhere they want.
Blackbaud Merchant Services offers its own payment gateway for online credit card processing, but merchants can use a third-party gateway if they desire to. Using Blackbaud’s gateway makes it easier for merchants who prefer an all-in-one platform for their payment needs.
Through Visa, American Express, MasterCard, Maestro cards, Diner’s Club International, or Discover, merchants can take card payments from anywhere around the world with a BBMS account. The BBMS accounts are currently available for Ireland, UK, Canada, and US-based consumers. ACH processing is available only for US-based accounts.
The provider offers recurring billing that allows automated credit card updates if a donor’s credit card expires. This feature is conducted with BBMS gateway and assists one-time donors in becoming recurring givers.
Blackbaud mobile payment app is compatible with Android and iOS, allowing on-spot transactions as a virtual terminal. Additionally, merchants are eligible for two free mobile card readers with a single BBMS account with extra liability protection.
With Blackbaud’s financial edge NXT reporting, analytics, and budgeting tools, merchants can create and update custom reports for their transaction data and keep a check on every transaction instantaneously. All received funds are transferred to the assigned bank account four times every month. The company provides a pre-reconciled deposit for every card brand the merchant accepts for transactions.
A Blackbaud merchant service account purveys card security code (CSC) address verifications and 3D security as fraud management service. By paying an additional fee, merchants can set parameters for online transactions to ensure fraud prevention with a premium BBMS account.
Blackbaud Luminate online is a distinguishing feature that allows non-profit organizations to create online fundraising platforms and marketing campaigns. It helps merchants to have viable relationships with their donors. Blackbaud consultants will assist in designing these campaigns and fundraisers with available templates.
Blackbaud eTapestry enables merchants to control target emails, social media reach, member management, online donations, and event ordination all in one place. This feature compares donor engagement to help merchants decide which donor needs their attention. Its mobile view provides each donor’s contact and other necessary information and reports progress with dashboard reporting.
Blackbaud offers church management software that helps churches manage their events, small group congregations, member profiles, volunteers, and communications. Congregants can update their personal information and check their profile history, payments and gifts.
Blackbaud provides practical data health tools like address finder and deceased record finder to help churches, non-profits, and educational institutes keep their data up-to-date and in check.
This feature allows students to view different scholarship program offers as per their qualifications. Institutes can manage and promote the award process with this software without wasting effort and time. Donors can review the impact of their funding through an online scrapbook.
Merchants can control approvals for managers’ and users’ access to active data. They can restrict users to access specific areas and control who can make any changes to transactions. With Blackbaud fund accounting software, consumers can track funding and ensure accountability for restrictions imposed by donors on each funding and generate financial statements.
The provider offers a short-term, month-to-month contract with no early termination fee. This rate is for all card transactions and does not vary for any card brand or payment acceptance method. The subscriptions can be modified to auto-renewal and set up for long terms. The conditions can vary and should be discussed along with the contract terms. Blackbaud reviews reflect the company’s flat rate of 2.60% plus $0.26 per transaction. There is no PCI compliance or setup fee, and consumers do not have to pay monthly, annual, gateway, or batch charges. Merchants are charged $0.75 per transaction for ACH payments. Below is a review of other fees that the company charges;
For merchants in Ireland and UK, there are two rates. 3.50% plus £0.19 for Amex and 2.75% plus £0.19 on other cards. Merchants outside of the US may be charged the currency conversion fee.
The provider offers customer support with a Blackbaud software subscription. The company’s website has a separate page for information related to their customer support with guidelines. Community blog articles provide consumers with software updates and allow them to share their experiences for other merchants to see. Users have access to email and contact information, and sales live chat.
Blackbaud does not use intentional deceptive marketing strategies, and their fee rate is mentioned. But, merchants have to look through tons of pages to understand the contract terms and rates of the provider as all the required information is not mentioned in one place and is difficult to find. The company does not hire individual sales representatives, and there are no complaints in this area.
Blackbaud has both negative and positive reviews. The provider offers a wide range of services and effective products, but merchants must be sure if Blackbaud is best for their non-profit before signing up for a contract as they will require time and resources to learn the software. There are over ten complaints against the provider, most of which are about high pricing.
The company is currently not accredited by Better Business Bureau and shows an A- rating. There are 19 complaints on Blackbaud’s BBB profile. Seven are about billing issues, 11 complaints about the company’s services, and only one is related to advertising and sale. Only 5 of these complaints are resolved. Moreover, the company has received nine informal negative reviews concerning issues in contract cancellation.
A lawsuit was filed against the provider by Mission Measurement Corporation in 2018, accusing them of misusing confidential information and violating defend trade secret act of 2016. Another class-action lawsuit was filed by William Brown, claiming that the provider violated California’s unfair competition law. Both of these cases are pending a final verdict. Blackbaud was fined $200,000 for labor and wage-hour violations.
In 2020, a ransom attack caused a data breach and affected many of the company’s clients. Class-action lawsuits were filed against the company for not disclosing information about the attack to their clients on time. As a result, a massive amount of confidential information, including social security numbers and banking information.
Although the company offers valuable products and services to its merchants, it can be tricky to understand each product and its functions. Below are a few drawbacks of choosing Blackbaud that merchants should avoid.
Blackbaud Merchant Services is too expensive for low-volume non-profit organizations. It charges an additional fee for software subscription, and merchants must pay for a Blackbaud merchant and Blackbaud payment service account to fully benefit from its services. ACH payments and automated card updater also require an additional fee. Blackbaud has its payment gateway, but if the merchants want to access a different payment gateway or processor, they have to pay an additional cost. It seems like the company charges a fee for every other service, making it impossible for most non-profits to go beyond checking the website.
In addition to being overpriced, the company’s website is confusing. Most terms and rates are not mentioned, and the merchants must go through a tiring process to find all the necessary information. The processing rate is intentionally buried under a pile of articles and FAQs.
There have been negative reviews about the company’s claim regarding problem-free contract cancellation. Some businesses have complained that when they try to cancel their contract, the company intentionally delays the process, and they are charged a hefty amount.
Although the company offers platforms for customer service and provides contact information and FAQs related to any queries on its website, customer support is average. Reviews indicate that the salespersons do not adequately assist merchants and leave them to deal with the issues alone. Instead of helping their clients better understand their contract terms and services, the company keeps a layer of opaqueness in its operations.
A merchant service provider should have customizable options for their payment schedules as each business has different requirements. Blackbaud has a weekly payout schedule that can be beneficial as the payments are made sooner and is satisfactory for most people, but it can have devastating results in most situations. A weekly payout takes more time to process and can cause accounting issues.
Several reviews claim the provider’s false projection of services and products. Their customizable forms have limited features and do not work with Adobe suit. There are tech issues that take months to be resolved. The company promises excellent customer support, but they are ignored when merchants require help. Consumers are threatened with legal actions by the company for contract termination if they refuse to pay the fee initially claimed to be non-existent.
Since Blackbaud uses Stripe and First Data, the merchants must make a sub-merchant agreement with Blackbaud and one of the processors. Moreover, merchants will have an aggregated account with other merchants instead of a separate account. Resultingly, merchants do not have complete control over their accounts, and payment processing will take more time.
Blackbaud’s equipment lease has varying terms, and merchants are provided with limited information. Once they have leased the equipment, they might face unpleasant changes and conditions that the company forced on them. Sometimes merchants have to pay for the equipment even after returning it. The provider can come up with unexpected clauses forcing the merchants to give any amount they have to pay to get out of the situation as there are no stable terms.
A business deserves accuracy and reliability from its merchant service provider. Trusting a provider that later uses immature tactics to exploit customers is a big no. If a company has an expensive processing rate, the least they could do is provide their merchants with services and support that justifies their high prices. Blackbaud Merchant Services lacks in these areas. Moreover, if a business chooses BBMS, they must pay the account fee, Blackbaud software fee, and card processing fee separately. They are bound to have both BBMS and BPS for their payment processing. The company’s undisclosed information can be frustrating for merchants and can cause trouble in the long run. Blackbaud can be a good option for some large organizations but is unsuitable for low-volume non-profits and big charity organizations.