Introducing Apsona batch gift entry for the Nonprofit Starter Pack

Over the past few years I’ve come to appreciate the Salesforce Foundation’s Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP). But I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the Foundation’s Batch Data Entry tool. The interface is clunky and it doesn’t proactively allow you to create donor records on the fly or apply payments to an existing opportunity record. It was released in 2011 and hasn’t appeared to get a lot of love since. It’s not mentioned on the main Starter Pack page or in the documentation.

While Common Ground’s batch tool was far from perfect, a lot of organizations used it and relied on it. At KELL Partners, we couldn’t migrate them to a NPSP-based solution without a decent batch gift entry solution. It’s not just uploading Opportunity records via the Data Loader or DemandTools. You have to match those gifts to existing donors or create new ones if they don’t exist. You have to make sure those gifts aren’t already attached to pledges. And you have to know enough about your data to map the field name and values correctly.

We thought about developing our own utility that ran in the Salesforce UI (like the NPSP batch tool or Common Ground’s). We considered developing a stand alone tool (like DemandTools). And then the light bulb went off. Apsona!

Apsona already had a UI starting point. It’s all about manipulating data. It runs separately inside of Salesforce but is not a separate download. And there aren’t enough words to say how highly we regard Apsona’s leadership, Sridhar and Sadna. We knew they’d be a pleasure to work with (and they were!). We approached Sridhar and Sadna in late January/early February with the idea of developing a batch gift entry tool together. They agreed without hesitation and here’s the result! We spoke to many of our clients and evaluated how batches are entered in many different applications, in and out of Salesforce. I’m very proud of this collaboration. This initial release came out even better than I imagined it.

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Life after Common Ground: Not-so-final thoughts

6 weeks ago, I began a series of blog posts highlighting different Salesforce apps I’ve been working with at KELL Partners since leaving Blackbaud/Common Ground behind six months ago. Here’s a summary of those posts and the features I highlighted, in case you missed any:

While this brings me to the end of the series as I had planned it, I know I could have gone on and on. More features on the above apps. More apps. For example there’s Volunteers for Salesforce, which was rescued from the ashes of Groundwire by the always helpful and brilliant David Habib. Or Brickwork, iATS integration with Salesforce and its form building tool, AURA. Maybe I’ll do another series in the future. What apps are you using that I should be talking about here?

As I was writing these posts, I found myself focusing on a common theme. What excites me most about these products, almost without exception, are the companies and people behind them more than features. I focused on features, sure, but with each application the feature I focused on said as much about the mindset of the company as it did about its functionality.

Simply put: It’s not enough to just have something to sell.

The best part about Salesforce is that it isn’t just a platform to build stuff on. It’s a large, inter-connected ecosystem and developers have to expect that their customers are going use their apps in ways they never imagined and alongside other apps they never heard of. That fact has to motivate companies, not scare them.

Support and communication is everything. And I’m not talking about simply answering “How do I…” questions. Organizations want to feel that they’re in partnership with the companies they’re working with. From my experience, nonprofits can forgive technology that has its rough edges here and there. They have far less patience when their emails go unanswered once the check is cashed and promises aren’t kept.

I started this series because I didn’t want Common Ground users to feel hopeless just because one old-style company didn’t get it and pulled the rug out. There’s a reason around 18,000 nonprofits have adopted Salesforce over a short time. It’s exciting and innovative. There’s so much to offer. The platform is worth it. The community is worth it. Stick around and you’ll be glad you did.

Life after Common Ground: Part 6 – Apsona

This post is part 6 in a series of articles pointing out what’s cool about some of my favorite Salesforce apps for nonprofits. Previously, I highlighted favorite features in Nonprofit Starter PackClick & PledgeCauseviewSoapbox Engage and Conga Composer. Now I’m going to talk about my favorite parts of Apsona for Salesforce.

Apsona isn’t a non-profit specific app, but it’s so incredibly wonderful and useful I couldn’t leave it out of this series.

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