Blackbaud Inc. reported higher earnings and revenue for the first quarter, kicking off a year that's expected to produce leaner profit margins for the Charleston-based software company.

"It was a good quarter for us," said CEO Mike Gianoni, who has been in the top job since Jan. 13.

Net income for the first three months of the year rose by about $1.1 million from the same period of 2013 to $3.8 million. Companywide sales climbed 10.4 percent to $127.6 million.

Both figures exceeded anaylsts' estimates.

So-called organic revenue growth from existing business lines, a key goal for Blackbaud in 2014, increased more than 6 percent. That's up from about 3 percent for all last year.

"This growth was driven by higher than expected growth in several business areas, including analytics, international and payments, as well as growth from other recurring revenue sources," Gianoni said.

The Daniel Island-based company is the world's largest seller of software and services specifically tailored for nonprofit organizations. It's also one of the largest technology employers in South Carolina.

Internal revenue growth is Blackbaud's top priority under its new CEO, who previously ran a big division at financial industry software firm Fiserv. Blackbaud has warned investors that the $17 million it will put behind the effort this year will squeeze profits in 2014. It invested about $3.3 million of that in the first quarter.

Blackbaud also announced it has approved a quarterly dividend of 12 cents a share payable June 13 to stockholders of record May 28.

The company released its earnings after the stock market closed Wednesday. Its shares ended the trading session up 50 cents, or about 1.7 percent, to $30.45.

Gianoni and Blackbaud finance chief Tony Boor will discuss the results with financial analysts during a conference call and webcast that begins at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.