Dear Nonprofit - Why Salesforce?
With so many opportunities out there, why use Salesforce? After all, there are dozens of opportunities for CRM's, donor databases, membership software applications, and heck, remember the good old days when just keeping information in an Excel spreadsheet seemed like it was good enough? And back in the good old days it probably was good enough. Until something better came along.
So much software, so little time.
Nonprofits focus on mission. Client or member services. The wrong type of software can be clunky, burdensome, and appear to create work. Ever try to get a report out of a piece of software, only to find out that it can't be done? Have you ever used a software package and thought "You know, if it would just do this, it would be pretty good?" Have you ever had issues with training and adoption? Can your volunteers use your software effectively, and in a way that allows you put good data in and get good data out? If any of these sound like opportunities that you have faced in your nonprofit past. Salesforce may be for you.
Some Salesforce key features
Ease of use. The Salesforce platform offers an intuitive GUI (graphical user interface) that is point and click and makes the environment easy for even the casual user to navigate. With just a bit of training, users can be on there way and successfully navigate the software.
Data retrieval. Yup. Whatever data you put in you can get back out. You don't need the pro's doing complicated queries, or getting back to you within the next few days with your reports or list views. Once they are created they are all right there. And extremely usable. And reusable. And yes, on-the-fly customizable.
System Securities. Ok, here's the really great part. You can store all of the information that you choose in the Salesforce database, and then customize your permissions making certain that only certain groups of people or certain people have access to segments of the data. This is very powerful and allows the software to function organization wide, without the fear of sensitive or proprietary data being viewed by someone who shouldn't have access to it.
Customization. Salesforce can be used "out of the box" but can be readily customized for your specific use. Software is simply a tool; the key to good software is make certain that the software allows you and your agency to be more efficient, making you more effective in your environment.
API's, or connecting the rest of your world to the Platform. I know. API's. More jargon, right? Well, kinda. API stands for Application Programming Interface. And what the heck does that mean? Think of it like this (you'll owe us a quarter for making this explanation so simple) - An API is simply a series of code written that allows to different pieces of software to talk to each other when normally they would not. When API's are written and implemented, the software packages can now talk back and forth and exchange information. And based upon that information exchange, Salesforce can then be triggered do do certain things, like send notifications, post A/R, create new records. The list is long. Still a little confused? Ok, let's try this. It's like taking your hair dryer on a trip overseas. You'll need an adapter, or plug-in to make certain that the wall outlet you're using allows you to plug in your dryer and use it. Think of that adapter as an API and you're well on your way to understanding the process. Leave the quarter in the jar on the way out please.
Cool Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) features. We really like what Salesforce has done with their NPSP. They have modified their B2B accounts model, allowing users to add as many people as they choose in a HOUSEHOLD. So with relative ease you can now associate and track your contacts and their activity with meaningful association. The addition of membership software, learning management software, and accounting software make the NPSP a true dream for nonprofit use. And you'll love the way you can organize events, volunteers and campaigns. After a week of this you'll be kicking that old Excel spreadsheet down the road.
Trailhead - take classes and learn at your own pace in your own space. We have never seen a software package that provides a level of online, in depth training like Salesforce. It's free, easy to use, and allows users to complete entire modules or only specific sections to gain the information that they need.
And well, they're number 1! Yup. And really, no knock to the other folks in the game space, but Salesforce has been around since 1999. With around 3500 (or more) apps in the Salesforce appexchange, they are a clear leader in their industry. So when you're looking for a software application that really works, why not consider the leader?
Pricing. You'll love this (we do). As of this writing, the Salesforce NPSP offers 10 free licenses for 501(c)(3) organizations. Additional licenses may be purchased as needed, but 10 free is a great start to getting your organization on the Salesforce platform.
Need help deciding or making the transition? Contact us. We'll be happy to help show you the way. As always, your success is our focus.