Blackbaud to acquire Attentive.ly Maryland firm keeps tabs on nonprofit subscribers’ social media conversations

Blackbaud’s global headquarters are on Daniel Island.

Blackbaud plans to help charities keep an eye on their supporters online, saying Tuesday it was buying a company that nonprofits use to track and interact with their backers on social media.

Bethesda, Md.-based Attentive.ly, founded in 2012, keeps tabs on what the people who subscribe to a nonprofit’s emails are saying on social media. The company says the goal of “social listening” is for charities to understand their base and interact more effectively with otherwise passive supporters.

Daniel Island-based Blackbaud Inc. didn’t disclose the terms of the deal, saying they would be outlined in a later filing. But the company said that by buying a startup, it was mostly looking to pick up new features and talent.

Attentive.ly, which is known legally as GoodGeek Inc., had previously disclosed a combination of equity and debt investments worth close to $1.2 million, federal securities filings show, and in a May filing, it said it had less than $1 million in annual revenue.

“A smaller acquisition, but very strategic for us,” said Kevin McDearis, Blackbaud’s executive vice president of research, delivery and operations.

Attentive.ly adds to a string of companies Blackbaud has bought in recent years. The company, which makes software for the philanthropic sector, has spent more than $380 million on three deals since 2014, securities filings show.

Those acquisitions have largely been focused on growing the company’s breadth — by giving it a foothold in a new market like K-12 schools, for example — but the Attentive.ly deal appears more focused on bolstering the products it already offers.

The company’s online marketing product, known as Luminate Online, already works with Attentive.ly’s software, and Blackbaud says it plans to “more deeply integrate” the product in upcoming versions and in its other products.

Blackbaud already has some tools that deal with social media, McDearis said, but it was lacking in ability to help nonprofits engage with the people who back their causes.

Blackbaud plans to offer the Attentive.ly software as an add-on service for now, with plans to fold it in elsewhere later.

Attentive.ly chief executive Rosalyn Lemieux and the startup’s 10-person staff will become Blackbaud employees immediately, Blackbaud said, and co-founder Cheryl Contee will work as an adviser. They’re expected to stay where they are rather than move to Charleston.

“As we began to look at how we could begin to build this capability as quickly as possible, it was one of those things that Attentive.ly just made the most sense. They’ve been very innovative over the last few years,” McDearis said. “It was really to acquire a very astute capability and, quite frankly, a very astute talent pool of individuals who know this market really well.”

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703 or on Twitter @thadmoore.