Glad you asked! We’re so close!
It feels like it has been months since we started with Salesforce (well, it has been months) and now we’re finally at the point that we’re really using the darn thing. Just about all of C3’s contacts are in the database. All that’s left is to get the legacy transactions (in Salesforce-speak: Opportunities) imported. That should happen in the next few days.
The main issue is that Salesforce is a house designed for “corporations,” and we had to take the time to install new carpet, paint the walls and move some sheetrock so it could be a house for an “organization.” Accounts become Organizations, Opportunities become Donations, Major Gifts and Grants, and you get the idea. In early June Salesforce unveiled a new nonprofit template that has made this conversion much easier. Out of the box, Salesforce now looks more at home in a nonprofit organization.
It has custom programming to consider households (two individuals living at the same address without having to call them an “Account”), grants, recurring gifts, connections, etc. We’ve already configured it a bit for our use, but the basic functions were pretty good from the start:
The bottom line is that corporations are account-focused. Companies deal with companies. Companies deal with individuals at companies. But it’s still all about the company. Nonprofit organizations deal with both companies and individuals, and companies do not necessarily carry more weight so-to-speak than individuals do. They’re probably less important most of the time. I’ve found the trick to dealing successfully with Salesforce is to think of the bucket first, then the content. Think of where
the individual “fits” in a larger scheme first. So instead of thinking of recording that $150 that came from Jane Frank, then thinking about the fact that Jane works for the Whatever Foundation, you have to first think about the Whatever Foundation, then the fact that Jane Frank is the primary contact there, then the fact that the Foundation gave a $150 gift. It makes sense, as it’s enabling us to connect people and organizations in a much more powerful way.
Salesforce has made an investment in the nonprofit arena. In addition to giving away the software (we have 10 licenses, value of $15,000 per year for nadda), they also offer “Turn it Up” grants valued at $10,000 to organizations who want to kick up their Salesforce implementation. We are already working with Theikos to get our Salesforce account up and running and integrate
our data from GetActive. But the integration is a mostly manual process. We simply couldn’t afford to have the custom development done to truly make it a full application. I have to manually log in to GetActive, run an export of transactions to capture those who have made donations, changed subscriptions or taken action and bring that into Salesforce. Likewise, I have to move data from Salesforce into GetActive to be sure our email mailing list is in sync and up-to-date. We’re not done setting it up yet,
and I can tell this is going to be a hassle. I’m being as careful as I can to avoid duplicates and keep the data in good shape. As a nonprofit organization, especially a grassroots advocacy nonprofit, the most important asset we have is our database and what we know about our constituency. We’re going to be training our folks at the end of next week to be sure that we’re all entering data consistently in Salesforce. I would love to have an application that sat in the middle pushing data back and forth. GetActive
has an API, but I’m told it only works for member data right now, not transactions.
So I applied for a “Tune it Up” grant to work with Theikos and GetActive to create a (more) seamless connection between GetActive and Salesforce. Can it be done? Who knows? But without the resources I’ll never find out.
I love how folks have built so much additional functionality into Salesforce through the App Exchange. Some of the developers also offer nonprofit pricing. For example, we got the amazing DemandTools for the same price as Salesforce…free! They are matching the Salesforce grant. This application would normally cost us at least $2,000 a year. It connects to your Salesforce database and does things like
deduping, mass changes and data loading. The built-in deduping in both Salesforce and GetActive works by matching a pre-defined set of criteria. For example in Salesforce out of the box, you can’t easily merge John Smith with Jon Smith based on the fact that they both have the same email or phone number. DemandTools is killer for this. It even caught that we had a Cathy Baker and a Kathy Baker, a Pam Cook and a Pamela Cook. And I can’t tell you how many different ways folks can mispell “University.” It ain’t
pretty. This tool easily caught them all with a few clicks and our data has never been in better shape.
I’m looking forward to everyone in our organization actively using it.