Going Deeper: Your Agile Nonprofit Doesn’t Need a Salesforce Admin


I’ve had a few key conversations with some nonprofits recently who had no internal owner (besides the Executive Director) for their Salesforce system. The reality is that a system without an owner is bound to fail. Nonprofits are investing in a holistic approach to managing their organizations, and someone needs to manage the ship. Which begs the question – should I hire a Salesforce administrator?

As a resource-constrained, small and mighty organization – I say No.

Don’t get me wrong. You need someone who understands and manages your system. And you should invest in sending her to the official Salesforce Admin class, and Dreamforce, and if you find someone who already has a Salesforce admin or developer certification – count your blessings. And if you don’t already have someone internally, you *need* to hire someone.

But the title of Salesforce Admin to me implies order-taker, field creator. Ultimately the role you need, where every body in the organization counts, is much broader than that title. Salesforce is just a tool to measure and create something much bigger.

At the best of times, the person in charge of your Salesforce instance is a change-agent. A fantastic communicator. The one who keeps you rock-solid focused on your organization’s theory of change by measuring your impact, and helping understand where the resources of the organization are going. She creates organizational efficiencies and looks to technology to solve frustrations. She bridges needs between programs and development. In the for-profit world, she’s a Solutions Analyst.

Anyone who has watched from afar the career trajectory of Kylee Durant (who joined the most recent MVP class along with my business partner Tracy) knows that she was no simple Salesforce Admin. At Blue Star Families I have no doubt that she was key to their ability to scale so dramatically in the past two years. She started as a Salesforce Admin (and wisely for her ED) ended as a Senior Technology Manager. Now she’s a COO. [Hint: Pure Salesforce Admins can get paid more in the for-profit sector, and you won’t hang on to them for long].

I decided it’s time to re-write the job description for the ideal agile nonprofit change-agent. Language adapted from a job posting posted by Carolyn Freel – Level 3 Communications – http://local.level3.com/en/.

Title: Impact Specialist (Manager, Director)

Essential Duties

  • Responsible for developing, defining, planning, and implementation of solutions that are targeted towards measuring our organization’s impact and understanding how our organization allocates staff and other resources
  • Coordinates sub-teams of staff and serves as an internal champion of all things system-related
  • Networks with internal and external partners within own area of expertise and pulls input from multiple projects or applications to ensure that organization maintains a holistic view of its data and impact.
  • Interfaces with staff and executive team and acts as a subject matter expert and advocate for the staff involved. Provides strong collaboration and partnership within the organization in order to identify and resolve problems.
  • Leads efforts to identify improvements to ensure data quality and integrity, operational efficiencies, quality staff user experience, organizational scalability, and quality client experience.
  • Utilizes understanding of organization to translate project requirements into system requirements.
  • Uses initiative to find solutions in the community for common organizational database needs, and interfaces and coordinates consultants when needed.

Knowledge, Skills or Abilities

  • Strong attention to detail
  • Must be a self-starter who is willing to find answers to questions, and ask broader Salesforce community members for help
  • Data analysis and project management experience.
  • Must be able a strong communicator who can both rally the team and set boundaries when needed
  • Experience with Salesforce a plus!

Megan Himan has over fifteen years experience in the nonprofit sector and over ten years working on the Salesforce platform. She has a unique combination of deep technical skills paired with an ability to strategically convene groups, coach executives and leadership through transitions, and execute on project deliverables. She is Founder & Principal of BrightStep Partners - solutions with strategy for Salesforce success. In September 2017, she was named a Salesforce MVP.

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Posted in Administration, Leadership, Organizational Management
8 comments on “Going Deeper: Your Agile Nonprofit Doesn’t Need a Salesforce Admin
  1. Brian Pickett says:

    I love this post.


  2. rlweiner says:

    I love this! I often refer to that person as the Database Owner. It’s not a job title, it’s a role.


  3. […] Salesforce Consultants and in-house Salesforce specialists are lumped into an internal order-takers, to build out the functionality that program or development staff […]


  4. […] at it from a systems perspective rather than a technical one makes it no less worthy. I am an impact specialist in my nonprofit. I won’t let anyone else discount my work by calling it […]


  5. […] fail. We often don’t have the luxury to designate someone full-time in this capacity (see my post Your Agile Nonprofit Doesn’t Need a System Admin) but we must designate an owner – and empower that person with agency and resources (time, and […]


  6. […] down the way you can help an organization break down their processes into real goals. Check out job descriptions that describe what you love. And join the conversation on the Success Community or the Power of us […]


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