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Investing in the Mission

By June 12, 2013

steveWith proper planning, implementing Salesforce can truly transform a nonprofit.   We can share hundreds of stories of how organizations have used our technology to help transition to a more efficient, data-driven, and collaborative organization. And then passed along their learnings and code to other nonprofits to help them to do the same.

Unfortunately, we can also tell our fair share of stories of organizations that took on Salesforce before they were ready, and who grew increasingly frustrated by the fact that they had a Tesla Roadster sitting in their garage that they couldn’t drive.

As an organization, we have shared that frustration. Afterall, our success comes in our community’s ability to better meet their missions. And we want every organization on a mission to succeed. We’re counting on it.

Since the Foundation started donating licenses more than 10 years go, we have kept Salesforce products free or low-cost to allow the greatest number of nonprofits to be able to access them. Initially, however, that commitment left us without the resources we needed to help our customers better use Salesforce.

As our social enterprise model has blossomed,  we are now able to reinvest in our customer community in some exciting new ways. And we have spent the last year or so talking to customers, partners and other influencers in our community to determine the strategies that will bring the most benefit to our entire community of users. Three core areas rose to the top.

Customer Success

Over the years, has learned valuable lessons about what makes their customers successful. And they share that expertise through coordinated teams of Customer Success Managers.

The Foundation has recently hired a new Vice-President of Customer Success, Heidi Connal, to help lead the development of our own Customer Success team. Heidi has more than twenty-years of expertise in strategic consulting and business development including her most recent role as a Senior Director of Customer Success with Heidi will lead the strategic vision of our Customer Success team and manage a growing team of Foundation Customer Success Managers that will work directly with customers to ensure they are getting the most out of Salesforce.


As you might have heard mentioned in a previous post, we will be launching a new home for our community of users in July. Named the “Power of US Hub” – it will take advantage of the best of new technology to support a robust online community where members can share ideas, get support, and collaborate. We have one of the most open and generous user communities, but it has been fragmented and spread across various sites and groups. As we have talked to customers, a central place to access nonprofit-specific resources was one of their biggest asks. And we are thrilled to be able to help make that happen. We will be communicating more about the launch of the Power of Us hub in the next few weeks.

Tools and Apps

readyIn support of Community and Customer Success, we’ve built a number of technology tools. Some of these tools are behind the scenes, and help us serve our customers without much fanfare. But some are more visible. The biggest is the Power of US Hub, which you’ll see in July. But others you might not have seen yet have to do with getting customers successfully on our platform. My favorite recent investment is our Readiness Survey, where we ask groups new to Salesforce to assess their ability to pull off a successful Salesforce implementation. We suggest areas for improvement based on the research of Dr. Ryan Wright and on surveys and conversations we’ve had with our customers over the years.

Additionally, Apps like the Nonprofit Starter Pack are invaluable for many organizations who might not have the technical resources or budget to take on customizing Salesforce to meet their specific fundraising or programmatic needs. The AppExchange ecosystem is critical to the success of our customers, and the Foundation will continue to invest in app development through the Force-for-Change grants program, as well as investment in Apps created and managed by the Foundation and our partners.

We’re excited to provide tools like this, and I’m glad to have a really strong and growing tech team to build and maintain them.

So what does this all mean? I am pleased to say that it means the Foundation’s commitment to helping nonprofits work better is getting deeper. And that we will be working together with our customers to build better resources, better products, and a stronger community for us all.

Steve Andersen is SVP, Technology & Innovation at Steve and his team are responsible for nonprofit products and technology programs.