Ten Benefits of Salesforce as a Nonprofit CRM

data silos

No more data silos

Choosing the right database platform for your organization is a critical decision. In our (and many other people’s) experience, Salesforce is an excellent choice for nonprofit organizations. Here’s why:

1. The Salesforce platform is powerful and flexible enough to centralize or integrate a nonprofit’s data management needs into a single system. This single system can remove data silos by tracking and managing programs, clients, outcomes, operations, and fundraising all in one place. The Salesforce Foundation calls this becoming a Connected Nonprofit.

2. Salesforce allows you to extend its functionality with third party tools. As a result, the Salesforce AppExchange is a thriving marketplace of tools to extend Salesforce’s functionality. These apps can save you from developing custom functionality and many are free or discounted for nonprofits. Available tools range from integration with popular email marketing tools to online donation tools to event management. There is also a whole crop of nonprofit specific applications, including apps used to track volunteers, manage auctions, track case management, and manage affordable housing programs.

3. Salesforce includes point-and-click tools to allow nonprofit staff to configure their system without needing a consultant for every change. Nonprofit staff can learn to handle a variety of tasks including tweaking how data appears to staff (page layouts), creating and customizing reports, and managing permissions and security. This enables nonprofits to own and manage their own system over time.

4. The Nonprofit Starter Pack is a free, open-source donor and constituent management app developed by the Salesforce Foundation and supported by a community of Foundation employees, partners, and keen customers. It includes all the customizations needed to cover many common nonprofit business processes. The Starter Pack can even be customized to track complicated relationships often found with clients of human services organizations.

5. The Salesforce Foundation generously provides license donations and discounts for qualified nonprofit organizations through their Power of Us program. (10 free licenses to 501(c)3s and registered Canadian charities, and deep discounts on additional licenses.)

6. There is a strong and active community of more than 20,000 nonprofit and academic institutions using Salesforce. There is a thriving network of consulting firms dedicated to nonprofits and higher ed. This community gathers on a supportive, private social network called the Power of Us HUB to share successes and solve challenges together.

7. Salesforce runs on their servers in the cloud so your IT staff doesn’t have to maintain your own servers. This lets you access your data from any computer or mobile device, anytime you want. If you need to, you can put limits on this access. You also get automatic upgrades three times per year as part of Salesforce’s regular release schedule, at no extra cost.

8. Salesforce includes comprehensive reporting and analytics so you can quickly answer questions about your data: Who gave last year but unfortunately not this year? (Who are my “LYBUNT” donors?) Who are my top donors? Who are my top donors of this year? Which constituents are participating in a specific program? Which constituents are participating in more than one program?

9. Salesforce boasts a robust and flexible security and sharing model that allows you to limit access or functionality within your organization. Some examples of this are limiting who can see donation information or only allowing specific people to update program data.

10. Salesforce excels at workflow automation. It’s easy to automate your common processes, such as sending an email to key staff when a large donation is entered, creating follow up tasks for development officers, or sending a weekly summary of volunteer activities to your volunteer manager.

Ready to see how Salesforce could help your organization achieve your mission more effectively? You can start a free trial anytime at the Salesforce Foundation website.

Want to find out more about what it takes to implement Salesforce and set your organization up for success? Read Sam Dorman’s guest post on understanding what you are getting into with Salesforce.