Solving the Piece of Paper Problem

In honor of the Salesforce AppExchange turning 10, I want to talk about how we’ve solved what I call the “piece of paper problem” with two great applications: the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP), and GridBuddy.  You’re probably already familiar with the Nonprofit Starter Pack, and as an extra plug, since we’ve also just kicked off Upgrade Month, all of the NPSP functionality described in this blog post is only available using the improved NPSP3.

Here’s the problem – An organization collects names on a sheet of paper, with email addresses and/or phone numbers.  Maybe this is because it has been circulating a signup sheet for volunteers, collecting names at a rally, or has multilingual constituent signup needs.  At the end of the event, what we are left with is a sheet of paper that someone needs to do something with.

We can, of course, enter these folks on a spreadsheet, and turn them over to a system administrator for mass upload into Salesforce.  And, depending on how often this happens at your organization, maybe that’s all you need to do.  But what if you’ve got a lot of people collecting these sheets, because your organization collects the names of constituents from many events a week or month for advocacy campaigns, coordinated efforts with other organizations, and political movement building?  That’s a lot of data uploads and de-duplication for any system administrator to coordinate and handle.

How can this process be conducted by the very folks doing the data entry into spreadsheets in the first place? What if we didn’t even have to bother with a spreadsheet? What if empowered program and community organizers could enter this data, with some confidence in duplicate record prevention, themselves?

Enter GridBuddy Unlimited, for which AppBuddy provides 5 donated licenses for your nonprofit.  And enter the NPSP Data Imports tool, which has the capability of uploading people as Contacts associated with Household Account records, and donations (as Opportunities) and Campaign Memberships in association with people.

However, instead of using the NPSP Data Imports tool to first match and upload data from a spreadsheet, a System Administrator can construct a GridBuddy Grid to enter data directly into the NPSP Data Import Object.  The first screenshot is a Grid that allows anyone with access (one of the GridBuddy licenses) to enter people, with their email and phone number, that will become members of a Campaign record that represents the event or action they’ve attended.  Because we’re using GridBuddy Unlimited, people can be entered first, and then a mass update applied to everyone to specify a new or existing Campaign Name and Campaign Member Status, which you can see on the second screenshot.

Screenshot 1: Entering Your List


Screenshot 2: Applying Mass Update to all records with a single Campaign Name and Campaign Member Status


Screenshot 3: The fully saved Grid


Once the GridBuddy Grid is fully saved you’re ready to use the NPSP Data Imports Tool.  There’s a few prerequisites and qualifications here for allowing anyone with a non-System Administrator Profile to use this tool that I’ll cover at the end of this post.  Here’s all the people we just entered in our Grid ready to be imported.  Simply click “Start Data Import.”

Screenshot 4: The NPSP Data Imports tool with newly-added information


Something magical happens here – for folks familiar with the NPSP Data Imports tool, if a non-System Administrator is doing the import, you’ll notice that the ability to configure the import has disappeared, and the import process simply starts.  That’s right.  As of Nonprofit Starter Pack release 3.61 (see what I did there? Upgrade Month), System Administrators can set the default match criteria and configuration for imports, and non-System Administrators can simply use them. Huge props to the NPSP developer team and community contributor, Christian Carter, for making this possible.

And now, let’s take a look at the resulting Campaign record – Here’s the Campaign with all it’s Members and the custom Status that we entered into the Grid.  The only remaining action to take is click on “Advanced Setup” and make sure that your custom Status is set as “Responded” as Salesforce understands it, if necessary, to facilitate proper Campaign rollup information from your Contacts, and fill in any other information on the Campaign record about the event or action.

Screenshot 5: The new Campaign Members with custom Status


Lastly, for System Administrators, a few things to note:

  • However the NPSP Data Import tool is last configured by a System Administrator in the Configuration Options – including match criteria and batch size, this will be the criteria used by non-System Administrator Users employing the tool.BlogConfigOptions
  • Users will still need at minimum Read/Create/Edit access to the relevant Objects, which in the example used for this blog would be Accounts, Contacts, Campaigns/Campaign Members, and the NPSP Data Import Objects.
  • You will need to filter the display of the GridBuddy Grid based on the import status of the NPSP Data Import Object records themselves – only records with no import status should display, as all others have either been imported or failed (which would be viewable from the NPSP Data Imports Tab).
  • Because last name is required in Salesforce in order to save a Contact record, you will need to make Last Name a required field in your GridBuddy Grid.
  • The currently logged in User will become the Owner of the subsequent records created by the NPSP Data Imports tool.
  • Multiple users entering data to the NPSP Data Import Object at the same time will be able to see all records they and others enter when the GridBuddy Grid is saved. This is why this is still a process for the “power users” for your organization, who understand a bit more about working with data and records.  GridBuddy Unlimited will still allow individual records to be selected from a broader pool and mass-updated, however, the NPSP Data Imports will presently import all the records available to it when “Start Data Import” is clicked.

Happy birthday AppExchange, and happy upgrading to NPSP3!

Co-Founder, BrightStep Partners • Salesforce MVP

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Administration, Adoption
2 comments on “Solving the Piece of Paper Problem
  1. Great article! I could see GridBuddy being really useful to our organization as we have paper registration lists regularly. Thanks for such a thorough explanation!


  2. Anne Crawford says:

    This is so awesome! Worked like a charm. A very powerful tool.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Our (New!) Blog Site
Visit our new Blog location!

Visit our new Blog location!

Our Consulting Site
Follow BrightStep Partners on
%d bloggers like this: