Planning the Trek: An Introduction to Salesforce for Nonprofits

Is Salesforce right for your nonprofit?


Your big event is coming up, and you need to send an announcement to the right people. That means gathering Excel spreadsheets, checking the old database, and making sure any new contacts on various scraps of paper have been added. You sure could use the time to work on the event rather than sifting through spreadsheets. Why does sending out a simple piece of communication take so much of your valuable time? Enter Salesforce. That’s exactly what you need: a CRM!


A High-Powered CRM, with a Path for Nonprofits

If you’ve heard of CRM (customer relationship management) platforms, you may think of them as a tool for business sales teams. Since CRMs became available in the 1990s, the business world has latched on to the idea that sharing information about contacts internally is crucial to success. Salesforce has become one of the most popular CRM platforms in the business world. Nonprofits are now finding that a CRM platform like Salesforce can help any organization that is built around people and relationships to track and share contacts internally. And it can even do a whole lot more. At its best, a CRM can allow you to simplify your processes and free your time to focus on your people and programs.


Accessible Data

Salesforce was the first major CRM to offer the easy accessibility and security of a cloud-based CRM. That means your data is stored and regularly backed up online, rather than trapped on one computer in your office.

So when you're out and about at events, meeting volunteers, or working with clients, your data can travel with you on a laptop, tablet, or your mobile phone. 

Salesforce is a web-accessible CRM, yes, and it’s also a database where you can store and manage information about your nonprofit’s important contacts – clients, supporters, members, funders, volunteers and more.


A Community, Not Just a Tool

The scope of Salesforce can be overwhelming for even a savvy user, and translating its features for nonprofit use wasn't always the intuitive. That's why Salesforce introduced the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack. offers the optional Nonprofit Success Pack as a way to customize Salesforce for the specific needs of most nonprofits for donor management. The NPSP is an open source project, meaning many individual developers share their knowledge and help strengthen the software.

Since the introduction of the Success Pack, Salesforce has continued to build a community of support for the nonprofit sector with Salesforce for Nonprofits, the Power of Us Hub, user groups, and sprints as an open source way to steadily improve the platform. 


Tailored to Nonprofit Needs

Your database can be customized to the needs of your organizations. And these customizations are often done with clicks, not code... Salesforce believes you shouldn't have to hire an expensive developer just to collect new data or try a new workflow. We couldn't agree more, and we equip every client with confidence and skills to evolve their database. Customizations often relate to:

  • Volunteer management
  • Client demographic and tracking through creating custom objects and apps
  • Tracking client cases and answer questions quickly
  • Tracking the effectiveness of various types of campaigns and creating custom reports to make better decisions, fulfill reporting requirements to funders, and demonstrate impact to donors


“Ashima’s contribution to my organization’s understanding of database design and management have helped us leap decades ahead of where we were before working with her. Her experience and insight into non profit data needs matched with her deep understanding of data systems is POWERFUL. Best of all, she has taught us to design and use our system, eliminating the need for constant consulting interventions. We’re smarter, more independent, fueled with better data and ready for our future… all thanks to Ashima’s good counsel.”

Rachel Hood
Former Executive Director of West Michigan Environmental Action Council


Ready to begin your trek with Salesforce?

Learn more about how we work, or request a consultation with a Sherpa.