Associating a Contact with Multiple Accounts in NPSP and HEDA

By Judi Sohn | May 13, 2016 | Higher Ed Data Architecture, Higher Education, Nonprofit, Nonprofit Starter Pack, User Tips and Tricks

Summer 2016You may have heard about a new feature in the Salesforce Summer ‘16 Release: “Associate a Contact with Multiple Accounts.” This is a new Salesforce feature that allows you to associate a single contact with multiple accounts. For this feature to work, every contact needs to be associated with a primary account (the account that appears in Account Name), and it can have one or more other accounts. This may sound similar to the Affiliation model already available in the Nonprofit Starter Pack and the Higher Education Data Architecture.

At this time, we are NOT recommending a switch from NPSP or HEDA Affiliations to the new Contacts to Multiple Accounts feature in Summer ’16 for a number of reasons, chief among them being the current lack of automation in the Account/Contact Relationship. There is no automatic association between a Contact and Account based on the value in a field (such as NPSP’s Primary Affiliation or HEDA’s Primary Business Organization), no automatic updating of custom fields when a new relationship is created, and no access via triggers or workflow. There are other limitations in this first release as well, as outlined below.

The Salesforce.org product team regularly reviews new Salesforce features and functionality as they evolve, and we are continually looking for ways to use native functionality, but for now, we recommend that NPSP and HEDA customers continue to use Affiliations.

In summary, the specific features in NPSP/HEDA Affiliations that are not supported in Contact to Multiple Accounts at this time:

  • Some custom field types used in Affiliations aren’t supported in the new native object, such as long text area.
  • As not all platform capabilities are currently supported in Contacts to Multiple Accounts (e.g. custom actions, validation rules, triggers, workflow, etc.), automatic records can’t be created as they are in Affiliations. In addition, those records can’t be triggered based on a custom field such as Primary Affiliation.
  • Contacts can’t be related to a single account more than once.

If you have additional questions about this new feature from Salesforce and how it might play with the Nonprofit Starter Pack or Higher Education Data Architecture products, please post in the Power of Us Hub.