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What Doesn't Kill Us

Five Signs Your Nonprofit’s Database Isn’t Keeping Up

Nonprofits are in the business of making change. And sometimes that change is happening right within your own organization — in how you do your work, manage your projects, take care of your data, and more. So often, this internal change is the kind that growing nonprofits have the least time and resources to anticipate. As you do your good work in your community, what are some signs that your nonprofit database is keeping up, or not? How do you make sure your technology is growing and changing as your mission does?

This is one of the many reasons we believe that databases are more than a one-time project. A database isn’t just a tool implemented once — like a good relationship, it needs care and attention so you can continue to rely on it. Here are five signs it might be time to devote some fresh attention to your database and how it’s working for your organization. Think of it as spring cleaning for your technology!

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Salesforce DIY for nonprofits

I Inherited This Salesforce Instance — Now What?

As User Group leaders, Ashima and I are often talking to nonprofit staff who have “inherited” a Salesforce instance, and don’t really know what to do with it. That’s to say, they’ve started a new job at a nonprofit, most likely in fundraising, and because they have some experience or aptitude for technology, they’ve been also asked to “sort out Salesforce”. Maybe the organization had previously hired a consultant, or had benefitted from the help of a skilled volunteer, and now the staff who were part of the original implementation have moved on, there’s little documentation, and no-one’s quite sure what the next steps should be.

In some ways, it’s harder to help someone who is new to an existing Salesforce implementation than it is to help someone who has just signed up for a new trial. There are plenty of resources for the organization that is starting out with Salesforce: workbooks, videos, classes, and a supportive community ready to assist “newbies” online. And for those of us who do help out, it’s easier to answer questions about brand new instances – we are all familiar with how a trial looks before customization, and we know which features will be there with a fresh start.

Providing help for a new user inheriting an established Salesforce instance can be trickier, because the user probably doesn’t know how best to describe what customizations have been done or what packages are installed. So it can take more time, and a series of questions and answers, to diagnose problems or provide specific help.

With this in mind, Ashima and I are creating a workshop designed specifically for new staff members who find themselves in a Salesforce admin role with no-one to train them for it. We’ve called the workshop “I Inherited a Salesforce Instance, Now What?“, and we’ll be offering it for the first time on Thursday, December 11.

We’re still finalizing the “script”, but the aim of this session is to give a new admin a set of tools to discover what they have inherited, and how much attention they might need to give to it.

  • We’ll show how to figure out which versions of which packages are installed, what’s been custom-built, how many active users there are, how much data there is, and if that data is reasonably clean and tidy.
  • Then we’ll give advice on how to upgrade or update any features that need it, and on data clean up. (We’ll also help participants decide if they can do this themselves or bring in an expert!)
  • Finally we’ll discuss ways to improve user adoption, including a few simple customization tricks to amaze and delight!

There will be a long enough break in the middle of the session to allow each participant to use the “discovery checklist” with their own organization, and come back and share with the rest of the group what they have found out. The whole session will be recorded and resources will be shared with participants.

So if you’ve recently been landed with a Salesforce instance in your new job, and you’re not sure what to make of it, please consider joining us on December 11th. We can’t promise to teach you absolutely everything that we both know about Salesforce in three hours, but we will try and give you enough knowledge to see how much (or little) attention your Salesforce instance needs, and prepare you to ask the right questions and take the most effective next steps. Or if you have a friend or colleague who would value this kind of help, please tell them to sign up.

All the details, including cost, are on the registration page.