4 Must-Dos for Volunteer Salesforce Implementations


MultiEthnic Hands Raised – @GwynethJones 


Ten years ago, I was on the board of a local nonprofit that I still support. I gave both time and money, but it was the time that meant the most to the small, dedicated team who needed extra capacity and expertise. Years later, whenever I saw the Executive Director she thanked me, again, for implementing the new class sign-up and database system for the organization.

If you are in a position to donate time and expertise to a nonprofit, you can not be thanked enough. Truly your time is more valuable than money.

Yet, after doing ten years of Salesforce implementations for nonprofits, I’ve had to re-do or cleanup  well-intentioned work done by volunteers. Last week I heard a Salesforce.com employee who I really respect say they “just built a custom object since that’s what they knew how to do” for a nonprofit and I shuddered.

If you are about to embark on helping a nonprofit utilize Salesforce to manage their constituents, read this first!

  1. Don’t Use Custom Objects.

You might think, “There’s no object for donations in Salesforce, so I’ll build one” or you may be tempted to build something to track a business process. Wait. Read this Blog Post. More than likely, someone has solved this issue before. There are reasons to build custom objects, when a nonprofit has a strategy and a longitudinal way they want to track data – typically extending beyond the scope of a volunteer implementation.

2. Use the Nonprofit Success Pack App.

There is whole framework/app that sits on top of the Enterprise version of Salesforce that allows nonprofits to do all kinds of amazing things, on code that is supported by Salesforce.org and extended by the Community. To summarize: Opportunities track donations, Accounts can be Households or Organizations. If you’ve erroneously started a trial without the “NPSP” app, start over. Great, free documentation on NPSP data model can be found Here.

3. Ask Questions in the Power of Us Hub.

Don’t have time to spend three years learning the ins and outs of Salesforce implementations for nonprofits? We get it. You need answers, and you need them curated. There’s a whole log-in only community supported site that is filled with consultants, super users, admins and developers who donate time to answer questions. Start at the Power of Us Hub. No question is too basic. Use the Salesforce login you get from your trial account.

4. There’s an App for That!

If you are technical, you may be tempted to build a custom Stripe integration, or integrate with your favorite marketing tool. Don’t. Without dedicated staff on board to manage this going forward, and a budget to pay someone on that inevitable day when the integration breaks, this is unsustainable. Choosing an out-of-the box add-on app will be easier for the nonprofit to maintain in the near-term, even if it doesn’t fit the needs perfectly. Donation pages, email marketing tools, webform tools – you name it, it exists. Many are listed on the appexchange, and many are not. When in doubt, ask the Apps group on the Power of US Hub.

Photo Credit: Multiethnic Group of Hands Raised @GwynethJones

<ahref=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/43666171@N07/23935777989/”>The Daring Librarian Flickr via Compfight cc

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.

Posted in Best Practice, Implementation Success, Volunteers

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