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January 19, 2016

Nonprofit Marketing Solutions: What is a Best-of-Breed Solution?

Strength in Members NonProfit Marketing Technology Guide

In this series, we're bringing you excerpts from our Nonprofit Marketing Technology Guide. These pieces are best take together BUT we wanted to share some of the more salient, foundational concepts to help people refine how they thing about their technology. Grab a full copy of the guide, here. 

What is a Best-of-Breed Solution?

Best-Of-Breed solutions attempt to provide organizations greater performance through broad choice of the components used across the stack. A BOB solution is often anchored around one open and flexible component in the stack - usually the contact or campaign management component. The consumer data integration, promotion, and public facing forms are integrated into the anchor application. A high quality BOB solution can provide greater performance than an AIO solution for a similar cost after the initial deployment and configuration is complete. BOB solutions can be deployed with a progressive strategy that allows new components to be added or replaced over time, as a marketing program evolves. BOB solutions are most successful when adequate resources are allocated for ongoing support and change management. This support is most often provided to organizations by a 3rd party vendor who provides strong support for change management. Budget wise, they are best for organizations that can afford a deployment cost of several hundred thousand dollars and $20,000 to $40,000 per month in software costs and support services. 


• Open Model: BOB solutions are predicated on open data models; so, the options for integrating consumer, transactional, and application data are much greater than most AIO solutions.

• Data Integration: BOB solutions rely on an open contact management or campaign management application, most of which are developed for commercial applications. As a result, support for integrating applications is stronger than what is typically available from products aimed at nonprofits.

• Support Options: Customers have the option to use their own team or hire a 3rd party to manage the solution for them.

• Promotions: BOB solutions excel when it comes to promotional tools, since – for example – email platforms can be swapped in and out of the mix with significantly less effort than an AIO solution.

• Minimal Lock In: Because the organization will negotiate pricing with a hand-chosen set of application providers, costs for technology can be minimized. Contracts with vendors that support the solution are often made on a twelve-month term, many with a 30-day termination policy.

• Cost: Given the flexibility associated with the tools that can be added or removed, costs can be managed with relative ease.


• Suitability for Nonprofit Interactions: BOB solutions will require the integration of point solutions for things like advocacy and donation transactions. Or, custom form handling tools will need to be built into a customer’s Web site.

• Training: Because there are multiple interfaces in the mix, training staff may be an issue if they use different tools for contact management vs. promotions.

• Multiple Points of Contact: Customers will need to invest relatively more time to manage multiple vendors, including the various software providers and the team that deploys and manages the application.

• Consumer Data Integration: If support for hygiene and record aggregation is weak in the chosen anchor application, this will create a situation that the team simply needs to live with.

• Cost: BOB solutions aren’t cheap. It’s unlikely that a BOB solution would be accessible to smaller organizations. 

Who is a Best-of-Breed Solution Best For?

BOB solutions are best for marketing organizations that are rapidly innovating or are dedicating significant resources to improving an established program. They are often best for programs that focus on relatively few promotional media (i.e. email and direct mail) and have a moderate volume of campaigns (e.g. 15 per month).


Download the Full Guide


The Nonprofit Marketing Library 

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