Three Questions to Consider When Considering Salesforce

Three Questions to Consider When Considering Salesforce

Three Questions to Consider When Considering Salesforce

As data needs evolve, many nonprofit and social enterprise organizations transition to Salesforce as their data management tool. This process can be complicated and time consuming. If you’re planning on making this transition, one of the the most important actions you can take is to ask yourself (and team) thoughtful questions to determine what your needs are and how to bend Salesforce to meet your business practices. These three questions are a great place to start.

One-to-one or Bucket?

There are two account management options when setting up your nonprofit account in Salesforce. The question lies in how you want organize individual constituents that are not associated with an account, company, or organization.

One-to-one allows for each individual to be represented by a contact and an account that are linked together. The advantage to this is it makes an individual grouping less complicated and you can connect opportunities to an individual at the account level. The challenge is that there are two records for the individual – a contact record and an account record. This can be confusing for staff.

The bucket account model is such that each individual has a contact record and are linked to a single account – most often “Individual”. Any account functionality is meaningless and the account links people together that are not associated with each other. The advantage to this method is that it is simpler. The challenge is that you cannot use some account functionality.

There isn’t a right/wrong answer – just an answer of what makes the most sense for your organization based on your data needs. Bucket makes more sense if you have a small number of contact records that are not associated with an account or are worried about keeping your account set-up simple. If that doesn’t fit your organization, one-to-one makes more sense. The move from one structure to another can be complicated, so it’s important to consider what your long-term goals and needs might be.

What are your “sales”?

Salesforce was a created as a sales implementation tool. Obviously many nonprofits have adapted it for their use, but it’s still helpful to think through your business and data practices to determine what corresponds best to the traditional sales model. These will be your organization’s opportunities and help build a sales pipeline to track.

Individual donations and major gifts are easy to correspond to a sales cycle. Does your organization need to track training opportunities, grants, or sponsorship? What are the steps in this sales process? What data do you need to track the progress of these developments? These questions can help you determine your setup needs and reporting structure.

Which communication touchpoints do you want to capture?

Every organization has different goals and key touchpoints for data capture. Some need to only track transaction and event-related milestones. Others want to track any communication touchpoint. Did the supporter email a question or call the office? Is that something that needs to be tracked/logged? Determining how which communication you want to track will be critical in how you setup your contact and account fields.

These are questions are the first of many to consider as you onboard Salesforce. If you’re in need of non-database reading, we recommend the following links from the last week:

  1. Mary Cahalane reminds us that the key to donor communication is the donor.
  2. If you haven’t dug into M+R’s benchmark report yet, Marjory Garrison shares key points for Communications staff.
  3. John Haydon compiles 25 tips from Twitter pros.
  4. Your long-form read of the week is actually a collection of long-form reads. IssueLab has a collection of 63 articles and resources related to how nonprofits are working on immigration issues.


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