What is most valuable?
I have only ever used the Sales Cloud as customized by the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP) as provided by Salesforce.org and virtually all aspects of that application are incredibly helpful from a nonprofit perspective. It really takes the ‘Sales’ Cloud and turns it into the ‘Nonprofit’ Cloud. We use it for fundraising, grant management, volunteer management and everything in between.
How has it helped my organization?
We use Salesforce for every aspect of our business and it improves efficiency and gives us one source of truth when it comes to organizational information. Everything from fundraising to volunteer management goes through Salesforce!
What needs improvement?
There are data limitations on the platform – in terms of how much data you can store on the platform without having to purchase more. Generally, anything over one GB of data is going to cost your organization extra – this happens fast too so watch out. There is a lot you can do with zero programming knowledge and you can automate most repetitive tasks with no code!
For how long have I used the solution?
I've used it for roughly five years.
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
There were no issues with the deployment.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
There have been no issues with the stability.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I would call out the one GB data limits as a scalability concern – as it is often an unexpected cost as Salesforce generally hides this nugget of information in the documentation/limitations of the product. From a deployment perspective – not really. It’s a complicated tool so the amount of time, expertise and/or money you have is generally going to impact deployment.
How are customer service and technical support?
Salesforce relies heavily on their Community to do the work of support/customer service and it has paid big for them. I am usually headed to the Power of Us Hub or the Salesforce Community before I pick up a phone to call support. Overall, that experience is far more positive than trying to contact support. In the rare instances where I have had to call support, they are responsive – but beware of the additional costs for the ‘Premium’ support packages.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
In my current role, no. In previous roles, we evaluated other donor solutions and determined that Salesforce was best suited for fundraising and program management. The flexibility and 360 degree view of your constituents is really the draw.
How was the initial setup?
It’s a fairly straightforward purchase process – but the set up can be complex depending on your organizational requirements. The NPSP makes it easy to get off the ground quickly, but additional customization can often require consultant assistance.
What about the implementation team?
I’ve done both – generally working with a vendor for any heavy development/coding work that needs to happen. Everything else I was able to learn. Salesforce does a great job empowering customers and ensuring that they have what they need (including access to peers) to learn the platform. I would say this is a core organizational strength of Salesforce.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
In terms of non-profit licensing, you get your 10 free Enterprise Edition licenses as a 501(c)(3) and take advantage of those to learn the platform! As your organization grows, see Salesforce as an investment, not as a free tool that you must ensure continues to cost your organization $0. This will do more harm than good – learn the platform and allow it to grow with you.
What other advice do I have?
You generally have two routes to go when implementing; you can hire a vendor to do the work for you, or you can invest in/hire a staff member/team to learn the platform, gain expertise and implement internally. In the non profit space, I heavily favour the second option as I think investing in some staff time to learn this is great and there is an amazing community to support the process.