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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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Gabriel’s Database Sherpa and Journey

When I first started my journey, I knew next to nothing about databases. I grew up in the digital age, so I certainly know my way around a computer, but I’ve never been crazy about them. I prefer my social to be unmediated, whenever possible. Read more

Training & Workshops

Nonprofit Starter Pack Account Models – IT MATTERS!

Do you wonder about the Nonprofit Starter Pack Account Models? Do you wonder if it really matters? Well, Caroline Renard and I realized after the webinar we gave about the NPSP 3.0 Upgrade, that there was a need for folks to truly understand NPSP Account Models.

We decided to record a conversation we had about the three accounts models in the Nonprofit Starter Pack and explained WHY IT MATTERS. Hope you enjoy this video.

What Doesn't Kill Us

Salesforce Process Builder Delivers The Promise of Clicks not Code

I’m proud of my latest blog post as a guest blogger with PICNet. It’s all about DIY and specifically, how to use Salesforce Process Builder tool to help you with developing business process without writing code!

I love the mantra “click not code”, so take a gander and develop one for your organization. If you do create one, I’d love to hear from you.


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.


Sharing the Mess

I tried something new with a client the other day. I decided to share the “messy” part of database development, specifically the creation of workflows in Salesforce.

Now, before you get excited, I’m not going to teach you how to create workflows, instead, I’ll show you how sharing the mess is a radical idea that’s scary, yet exhilarating.

For those who work with Salesforce know, workflows are both powerful and confusing to the end user. Users often get caught up in trying to get it perfect the first time, which hardly ever works. They also often don’t figure out what they want the workflow to do before they sit down to create it. Needless to say, I’ve always found my clients frustrated by their lack of knowledge.

So, instead of starting over, I decided to guide the process through the mess. Allow the mess to unfold, acknowledge the mess, and then figure out what to do to clear up the mess.

Before we began, I explained that I was going to share with them the process — the good and the bad — on how workflows get created. Together, we had documented what we wanted the workflow to accomplish, so that was taken care of before we began. Then, the big question, how to begin?

I let them decide how and what to start the process. The path they chose was the wrong one, but I didn’t stop them. Not long into the process, they found their choice wouldn’t work. With a little searching on Google, we discovered why, and with help from the documentation we began again—knowing more than we did the first time around.

By the end, we had a working workflow, which they continued to refine after our call.

Why am I sharing this? As a Sherpa, I want my clients to learn and engage in new ways. By sharing with them the mess that creating workflows can generate, their stress levels dropped and they were more willing to try new things, and, to use resources to discover where they have stumbled off the path.

As a consultant, allowing the mess to happen was a new — and entirely scary — experience. I was vulnerable to my own lack of knowledge and even worse, I wasn’t “in control.” For a control freak like me, this was the most difficult thing I have ever professionally done.

When I spoke with the client after this trek and asked them how things were going with workflows, they had already created an additional workflow and had refined the existing workflow. And, the best part was, they made mistakes and figured them out!

So, we often get caught up in being perfect for our clients, but sometimes it’s good to share the mess with the client, because, you can’t learn from perfection, but you’ll always learn from a mess!

learning from toddlers

Learning from Toddlers

My daughter Zola’s teacher asked me to come to her class and teach the kids about yoga. I didn’t hesitate, because I LOVE to show yoga to anyone who asks. Just talking (and writing) about it is a thrill.

I began by asking my friends who teach yoga, what should I do with kids. I knew that my lesson wasn’t going to be about achieving a perfect pose, but instead about getting them to move. I also wanted to make it fun and something they would be excited to talk about later. My yoga friends agreed, and I went to work.

I wrote a little story that the children and I could act out with various simple yoga poses. We focused on Nature. The smell of earth and the feel of the sun. We began as trees in the woods. Then along came a breeze, which got stronger and toppled us over. Then we became cats smelling and moving in woods and then morphed into cows mooing in the woods. Then the cows saw dogs running in the woods. The dogs were running from a pride of lions. The lions were distracted by some birds that were flying away from some snakes. We went through all the poses: tree, cat, cow, dog, lion breath, bird and cobra.

I think the kids enjoyed it — they were smiling and listening and excited.

But, I think I got more out of it because they were such great teachers.

So, what did I learn?

For one, I know that in my yoga asana, I tend to hold myself stiff, using a lot of muscular energy. These kids were all about organic energy. They are just little balls of energy. They fell and laughed and tried again and again. It was quite fun to watch—I wish I could have watched more.

But, what they did to me is amazing. I had my own class after this little session, and I let go of the muscular energy and surrendered to the organic energy ENTIRELY.

Know what I found? Places in my body where I needed to let go and surrender and other places where I needed to be stronger. By letting go, I realized where I needed to be stronger. It was such an ah-ha moment for me.

What else did I learn?

Joy. Yoga is about finding joy. It’s not about finding the perfect pose and looking perfect. It’s about finding that place where joy and a smile come across your face. Where you are at peace. These kids were all about peace and joy. It was pretty cool.

So, a short 15-minute yoga demo to a group of toddlers ended up being an enlightening experience for me that I will work to remember the next time I need to let go!