Life after Common Ground: Part 1 – Nonprofit Starter Pack

Most of my time over the past few months at KELL Partners has been spent getting to know all the wonderful tools and technologies in the Salesforce world that have come along while I was too busy focusing on Common Ground. I’ve spoken to so many organizations who are now in the process of deciding their next steps. Almost without exception, they’re scared and they’re cautious. And they should be. It was a big step to adopt a new donor/constituent management system and through no fault of their own, they have to change again.

I thought it might be comforting for those organizations if I laid out some of what’s pretty awesome on the other side if they decide to stay on the Salesforce platform…to blog a series of articles each focusing on one bit of much improved functionality in different applications as it compares to similar functionality in Common Ground.

I’ll highlight what should make you smile in Nonprofit Starter Pack, Causeview, Click & Pledge, Soapbox Engage, Conga Composer, Apsona, Volunteers, and more if I can. This isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s just the applications that I’ve become the most comfortable working with since joining KELL Partners.

Even though I’m framing these posts with Common Ground eyes, they’ll hopefully be interesting to anyone who cares about what’s happening and what’s cool in the Salesforce nonprofit space.

Nonprofit Starter Pack

If your organization was using the Nonprofit Starter Pack before Common Ground, don’t rule it out now based on prior bad experiences. Because while we weren’t paying attention, it got kinda awesome. It has a consistent structure but it’s not rigid. Love that. And it plays really well with others.

One of my favorite features of the Nonprofit Starter Pack is how it handles gift payments.

True confessions: I never liked the way Common Ground handled Pledges and Recurring Gifts. Common Ground defined a pledge as a repeating gift with a fixed number of payments and end date. A recurring gift (typically generated by an online individual donor) was a repeating gift with no end date. Each had a separate parent object to opportunity and its own objects for designations. Seems okay in theory, but reporting was a huge challenge.

The Starter Pack has a more elegant solution: Payments. For background, read this post by Steve Andersen of the Salesforce Foundation. It’s not just about whether the gift has an end date. It’s about how the organization recognizes the gift when it’s made. I could say to an organization in December, “I’m going to give you $100 a month for a year, and here’s the first $100.” Let’s say the organization starts its new fiscal year in January. What do they count from that gift in their previous years’ revenue? Do they count it towards this year’s programs or last year’s? Depending on the donor, the organization may only recognize that $100 and count the rest as they get it. What if they receive a letter in December that they are getting a gift of $25,000 and it’s payable in 5 installments of $5,000 each? Do they count that entire $25,000 or just the money received by the end of the fiscal year?

For organizations that recognize the entire promised gift as revenue, the Nonprofit Starter Pack has a Payments object that sits under the Opportunity and records cash received against the larger parent gift while keeping that gift in an open stage. For recurring gifts, each receipt of a payment against the gift is its own opportunity with corresponding single payment since there is no larger confirmed commitment. Yes, the organization could believe that John is going to make that $100 gift all year, but that’s not always the same thing. Reporting is so much easier in this model because it can all be done based on Opportunity fields. All in all, I believe this is a much better model than Common Ground where this information was only tracked on the stand-alone Pledge or Recurring Gift record.


In the next post in this series, I’ll talk about how Click & Pledge handles matching online donors with potential matches in Salesforce. If you’ve ever cursed because Common Ground spawned 3 records for John Smith simply because John donated using his personal email address and you only had his work email address in Salesforce, you’ll be pleased.


7 responses to “Life after Common Ground: Part 1 – Nonprofit Starter Pack”

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