Think of Salesforce as its own country, and these nine terms and ideas as the first words or phrases you need to get around. With these key phrases, you’re on the road to nonprofit Salesforce fluency: tracking constituents, segmenting them, grouping them, understanding their relationships with you, and customizing them into a working database for your needs.
If you want to speak Salesforce, and understand how to apply it to a nonprofit organization, begin your journey here:
1. NPSP: The Nonprofit Starter Pack
Nonprofit agencies rely heavily relationships with specific individuals, as opposed to organizations they represent. Because of this, the Salesforce Foundation created the Nonprofit Starter Pack as a series of adaptations in the way Salesforce works to make it more responsive to the needs of nonprofits. The NPSP includes special nonprofit-specific modules for Fundraising, Memberships, and Volunteer tracking. All of this in addition to the same database and business process functionality that is used by Fortune 500 companies!
2. Get a 360-degree View Of Your Constituents
Salesforce distinguishes itself from other development packages in that it offers features for every department in your organization. It is more than a development database, it is a full-fledged database that offers you a 360-degree view of all of your contacts and their interactions with your organization. (For example, a donor database usually only tracks donors, not program participants.)
Salesforce has the capacity to allow you to record and track any of the many ways that individuals, families, and organizations may be interacting with your organization, including Program Participants, Volunteers, Board Members, and Partner Organizations in addition to Funders and Donors. Salesforce can be customized to record the outcomes of all your programs, and to have one single repository no matter how many different times or different ways any given individual participates.
3. Objects: Identify and Track Constituents By Contact, Account, Household
You need to track constituents accurately, and more importantly, accurately send donation acknowledgments. Salesforce offers multiple ways, called Objects, to identify and track your constituents. Contacts correspond to individuals. Account corresponds to companies, foundations, partner agencies, etc. Households represent a collection of individuals, such as a family. The advantage of the Household is that it allows you to send a donation acknowledgement to one place when several individuals at the same address have donated.
4. Your Account Model Name Is…
In response to the needs of nonprofits, the Salesforce Foundation created methods of grouping and tracking Individuals and Organizations the way that nonprofits naturally group them. These methods are known as “Account Models.” Most nonprofits use either the Household or One-to-One Model, depending on when you opened your Salesforce account.
- The Household Model: This model is new to Salesforce since NPSP version 3.0 was released in August 2014 and it is the recommended model for Salesforce users moving forward. In this model, each individual household is the focus in Salesforce, and includes the activities of each member of the household.
- The One-to-One Model: This is the Account Model that was most widely used by nonprofits using NPSP v2.0. If you are a new Salesforce instance, you would automatically begin with the Household Model. One-to-One works by creates a shadow account or Household. This duplicates the action of a Household in NPSP v3.0, but with more limited functionality. Unfortunately, Salesforce has stopped supporting the NPSP v2.0, so many of our clients are upgrading to v3.0.
5. Your Salesforce Account Is Called Your Instance
Your Salesforce account is called an instance. It comprises the entire structure and all the data that is stored in your database. The Salesforce instance comes with a standard set of fields that can be customized to your organization’s needs.
6. Any Customization of Your Instance Is The Implementation
The implementation is the process of taking a standard Salesforce instance and customizing it to capture the specific data that your organization requires. Without implementation, your organization is only be able to use the standard fields. Salesforce would be not able to collect data that is specific to your needs, and necessary to make data-informed decisions without customization.
7. Group Your Contacts In Ways That Make Sense As A Campaign
A campaign is a grouping of contacts. Campaigns can be used in many different ways, specific to your needs. Sample campaigns are Development: people who respond to a specific fundraising outreach; Events: people who are invited or who attend a particular event; Education: students in particular class; among others. Donations that relate to a particular campaign can be tracked and compared from one year or campaign to another to measure the return on investment of a given campaign.
8. Indicate Relationships Between Your Contacts
Salesforce offers additional ways to indicate connections among your contacts, by noting relationships. Relationships indicate the connections between people; for example, they may be used to show who your board members know from among potential funders.
9. Understand The Connections Between People And Companies Using Affiliations
Use affiliations to indicate connections between people and companies or organizations. This allows you to group constituents together who all work at the same company, or to identify who is associated with a given corporation or foundation you are approaching for funding.
These terms are more than just phrases; they are ideas behind the Salesforce architecture. Once you’ve got down the basic terminology, you also have insight into how Salesforce is structured, and how to work with it. Bookmark this page for later, and share it as a basic glossary with new Salesforce users. Did we miss a critical term or phrase for nonprofit Salesforce users? Let us know in the comments!
Want to get started with Salesforce, or customize your instance with an implementation? Check out our Quickstart Launchpad for Salesforce to get your implementation ready in just two weeks, or our intensive one-day Salesforce training for the new or relatively new user, Salesforce Bootcamp 101.
About Paul Baxter
Paul brings to 501Partners his extensive experience as a nonprofit senior manager with a background in education, workforce development and housing. Paul is a seasoned educator in both university and employment settings and a gifted public speaker. He is well-versed in workplace technology and uses his communication skills to provide training and make recommendations that increase value for his clients. Paul holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Boston University.