Blackbaud Merchant Services 2023: Reviews & Complaints

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Company Overview

Blackbaud is a software and merchant account provider that specializes in solutions for nonprofit organizations. Its payment solutions allow merchants to process credit card and ACH payments. Founded in 1981, the company has grown from a simple computerized billing service into one of the largest all-in-one solutions available for charities. Blackbaud utilizes Chase Merchant Services, Wells Fargo, and First Data Canada for its backend processing. As of 2022, Blackbaud has integrated Paypal and Venmo payments into its services.

In 2023, Blackbaud partnered with Almabase, an educational software company, and SwipeTrack Solutions, a patron experiences tech company.

Blackbaud Merchant Services’ Credit Card Processing

The primary service of Blackbaud Merchant Services is efficient credit card processing. This service enables nonprofits to securely accept a variety of card payments, ensuring a smooth transaction experience for organizations and their donors alike. The system is designed to handle transactions promptly and securely, building trust in the payment process.

Blackbaud Merchant Services’ Online Payment Processing

Recognizing the growth of online transactions, Blackbaud Merchant Services offers a secure online payment processing service. This service includes a reliable online payment gateway that facilitates efficient management of online transactions, meeting the needs of a digitally engaged donor base.

Mobile Payment Solutions by Blackbaud Merchant Services

To cater to nonprofits that require flexibility and mobility in transaction handling, Blackbaud Merchant Services offers a robust mobile payment service. This feature allows organizations to accept and process card payments directly from a mobile device, providing increased convenience and adaptability.

Integrated Fundraising and Donor Management Tools from Blackbaud Merchant Services

In addition to their payment processing services, Blackbaud Merchant Services also offers integrated fundraising and donor management tools. These software solutions cover a variety of functionalities, including donor relationship management, campaign tracking, data analytics, and more. These tools aid nonprofits in improving their operational efficiency and fundraising effectiveness.

Blackbaud Merchant Services’ Fraud Management and Security Services

Understanding the importance of secure transactions in maintaining donor trust, Blackbaud Merchant Services provides advanced fraud management and security services. These services include tokenization, PCI compliance, and fraud detection and prevention tools to ensure secure handling of donations.

Location & Ownership

Blackbaud is headquartered at 65 Fairchild Street Charleston, SC. The company’s payment processing service is called Blackbaud Merchant Services and will be the primary focus of this review. Michael Gianoni is listed as the president and CEO of Blackbaud.

Table of Contents

Blackbaud Customer Reviews

Here's What Their Clients Say

Customer Reviews Summary
Item Result
Total Online Complaints >10
Live Customer Support Yes
Most Common Complaint N/A
Recent Lawsuits Yes

Low Complaint Volume

We are able to locate just over 10 negative Blackbaud reviews, none of which accuse the company of being a ripoff or a scam. One very detailed negative Blackbaud Merchant Services review states that while Blackbaud is a very robust solution with many useful features and a strong sales staff, it is ultimately overpriced for the value it delivers and it also comes with a steep learning curve. This review is representative of most positive and negative Blackbaud reviews, with the consensus being that Blackbaud is a reliable all-in-one solution for moderately sized-to-large non-profit organizations. Very small charities or very large charities may find themselves frustrated with a lack of third-party support or expensive add-on features. If you have your own Blackbaud Merchant Services review to make, please do so in the comments below.

Blackbaud Lawsuits and Fines

In 2018, Blackbaud was sued by Mission Measurement Corporation in the Eastern Division of the United States District Court for the Northern Division of Illinois. The suit alleges that the company violated the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 by improperly using confidential information of the plaintiff’s designed at analyzing non-profit data. This matter is still pending a resolution.

Additionally, the company was sued in April of 2018 in the United States District Court’s Central District of California. In the class-action suit, William Brown, et al v. Blackbaud, Inc, the defendants allege that components of contracts with Smart Tuition, a subsidiary of Blackbaud’s that provides student billing and payment processing platforms, contain language that unlawfully assesses late fees in violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law. This case is also pending a resolution at the time of this review.

In 2020, Blackbaud was the subject of a several-month-long ransomware attack on its network. The attack resulted in a massive data breach, affecting Blackbaud’s extensive non-profit, educational, and healthcare client list. These clients include The American Red Cross, The Boy Scouts of America, and Save the Children Foundation. It also included banking information, social security numbers, and other sensitive information for millions of people on the Blackbaud database. At least one class-action lawsuit has resulted from the data breach, accusing Blackbaud of not disclosing information about the attacks to its clients in a timely manner.

Blackbaud has also been fined nearly $200,000 for wage and hour violations and labor relations violations.

Blackbaud Customer Support Options

Blackbaud offers a dedicated support phone number and chat support on its website, which appears to offer service levels comparable to top-rated credit card processors for customer service.

Blackbaud Customer Service Numbers

  • (800) 443-9441 – Toll-Free Customer Support
  • (843) 216-6111 – Fax
  • (800) 468-8996 – Billing

Blackbaud Online Ratings

Here's How They Rate Online

Online Ratings Summary
Item Result
BBB Reports 32

Low Complaint Volume

The Better Business Bureau currently assigns an “A-” rating to Blackbaud and does not show that the company is accredited. Blackbaud’s BBB profile has received 20 complaints in the past 36 months. Of these 20 complaints, only 11 were resolved to the satisfaction of the merchant. The remaining 9 were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.

What Merchants Say

In addition to those 20 complaints, Blackbaud has received 12 informal reviews on its BBB profile. All 12 reviews are negative, receiving 1 out of a possible 5 in each case. The most recent complaint details difficulties with Blackbaud’s tuition management:

They call themselves “Blackbaud Tuition Management” but then use the moniker “Smart LLC” when taking money out of downstream customer bank accounts. It looks like fraud and they claim no responsibility for their bad business practice. They assess bank fees that they refuse to waive when shocked customers see potentially fraudulent charges on their bank accounts from their affiliate company. If they are using multiple names to do business, they need to be transparent to the end users. This is a bad and terrifying business practice.

Businesses in situations like these can benefit from understanding how to cancel services without paying a fee or enacting other undesirable terms and conditions of their contract.

An “A” Rating

In light of this information, we agree with the BBB’s rating at this time, but business owners should be aware that there is cause to be skeptical of the BBB’s information.

Blackbaud Fees, Rates & Costs

A Closer Look at The Contract

Cost & Fees Summary
Item Result
Cancellation Penalties No
Monthly & Annual Fees No
Processing Rates Variable
Equipment Leasing Yes

Blackbaud Pricing

The Blackbaud Terms & Conditions reflect that the company charges a flat fee that they have branded OneRate. The rate assesses 2.60% plus $0.26 on all card transactions, regardless of the card brand or method of acceptance. ACH payments are charged a fee of $0.75 per transaction. According to the pricing schedule (found on page 3 of this whitepaper), there are no other monthly minimum fees, annual fees, setup fees, gateway fees, PCI compliance fees, batch fees, or long-term contracts.

Blackbaud’s promotional materials do not directly address whether the company charges an early termination fee, but a company representative has stated in the comment section of this review that users are free to cancel service without facing any termination penalties. This is also confirmed in the company’s contract terms and conditions (available below).

Affordable But Somewhat Restrictive

Blackbaud’s flat per-transaction rate alone is not especially competitive for the industry, as it is equivalent to most mid-qualified or non-qualified transactions. However, the fact that the company charges no other fees whatsoever for its processing service makes it an affordable option overall for most organizations. The overwhelming drawback cited by Blackbaud reviewers is the company’s rigid insistence on keeping organizations within its suite of software solutions, which limits charities’ ability to competitively shop for third-party donor relationship management, web hosting, analytics, marketing, and so on. For this reason, organizations will want to be sure that they are interested in all relevant Blackbaud software options before signing up for Blackbaud’s payment processing solution. Non-profits should also explore options offered by cheaper merchant account providers for the most competitive rates.

We also encourage business owners to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant accounts.

Blackbaud Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs

Should You Work For Them?

Jobs & Marketing Summary
Item Result
Uses Independent Resellers No
Telemarketing No
Misleading Marketing No
Discloses All Important Terms No

No Sales Complaints

Since Blackbaud Merchant Services is an optional service within the Blackbaud suite of products, it is primarily marketed to interested or prospective Blackbaud customers. This means that the company does not utilize independent sales agents or engage in “hiring mill” policies that typically plague the credit card processing industry. As a result, we have found no Blackbaud reviews that accuse the company’s sales staff of misrepresentation or nondisclosure.

This compares favorably to our list of best credit card processors.

No Deceptive Advertising

The Blackbaud website does not disclose the pricing of many of its products and services, but it also does not promote any deceptive rates or fees. We will therefore award it an “A” in this category for the time being. If you suspect that Blackbaud is overcharging you, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to find and eliminate hidden fees.

Our Blackbaud Review Summary

Our Final Thoughts

Blackbaud appears to be a solid credit card processing provider according to all available information. The company has received positive feedback from medium-to-large nonprofits for its wide variety of features and customizable solutions, but it has rigid and fairly expensive pricing that may not appeal to smaller nonprofits or very large organizations. We will continue to monitor feedback about the company to determine whether its grade will improve or worsen, but for now, it is a reliable payment processor for established nonprofits.

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Your Comments & Reviews

How Did Blackbaud Treat You?

9 Responses

  • This payment-enabled fee of $50/mth from Blackbaud started at the beginning of March. According to the information, it would only be for customers that use payment-enabled services, such as processing payments, etc. Come to find out that even if you only use the database to store and record donors, and not to process any transactions through your bank, you are still expected to pay this fee. Which by the way they say is a monthly fee of $50, but they will be billing it annually…so $600.00 EXTRA dollars in addition to the renewal amounts that do not list any additional fees after the renewal charge. But all their CEOs and Directors are making bank selling their shares…it’s ridiculous.

  • Erika Cross MacDonald

    On March 3rd Blackbaud implented a $50 per month Payment Enablement Fee to take effect and be billed April 1st for April through December. This is an unexpected and disappointing hit to the budget.

    • Lynne Esselstein

      We are equally upset about this. The additional charge $450 annual charge was imposed outside of our signed contract. A Blackbaud rep told us today: “Your account executive or sales person would likely have had no idea of this charge, this was only
      recently introduced by the highest levels of Blackbaud, I do not think they would be able to help.” We do not use any merchant services with our subscription as we have a separate setup with PayPal which is adequate (and reasonable!) for a nonprofit our size. Whoever these people are at “the highest levels”, they just lost our business.

  • Mark J Theodoroff

    Blackbaud offers an integrated payment program, but we are currently working with a merchant that is using Blackbaud and their current program is a “bill back” payment program. Most of the time these bill back programs don’t not work out in favor of the merchant. Bill back programs are confusing and allow processors to “hide” fees and charges. I’d like to hear your feedback on bill back and why a processor would ever use this kind of program.
    The merchant we are working with does about $3-4M a year in revenue, so they are a decent size merchant.
    Thanks for your comments on this Phillip!

  • Kendra DeWitt


    Thank you very much for your review of Blackbaud Merchant Services. As the Payment Business product marketing manager, I wanted to reach out and let you know that we don’t charge an early termination fee. Clients can come and go as they wish without penalty.

    Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or if there’s any other information that you need.

    Best regards,

    Kendra DeWitt
    Product Marketing Manager, Payment Business
    Blackbaud, Inc.
    [email protected] |

    • Thanks for taking questions. Why is Blackbaud introducing this fee outside of contracted terms after all of your customers had to win back the trust of donors when you had the largest data breach in the history of the nonprofit world? Shame. On. You.

      • Les Fujimoto

        We complained to Blackbaud and they told us it was for the betterment of all Blackbaud customers, those who use and those who do not use their payment system.
        What legitimate business today gets away with and has the audacity to unilaterally charge all their customers, especially nonprofit customers for an additional program that we never agreed to , wanted, or signed up for, right in the middle of our contract term!
        Class action?????

        • Unhappy Blackbaud user

          Unhappy Blackbaud "customer"

          WE certainly agree with all of these comments regarding this payment service fee
          which we did not sign up for and never intend to use. It is an awful way to treat a customer base.

          • Can I switch database providers?

            The “Payment Enablement Fee” is infuriating! Every time I see that fee on an invoice, I’m angry all over again. I imagine if Blackbaud weren’t still embroiled in the data breach class action suit, that one(s) of us would have launched such a suit about this fee. If it weren’t so complicated and time-consuming to switch databases, we would have done so when this fee came out of the blue, non-negotiable, for a service to which we don’t and won’t subscribe (and which we pay another company to provide to us).

            When the fee first came up, along with being disgusted, I imagined some cost center within Blackbaud was not making its numbers, thus this fee to cover.

            You know how a disgruntled customer tells 7 people who might each tell 7 more…?

            When people ask what database software we use, I suggest they steer clear of Blackbaud.

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