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NPSP Changed How I Think of Nonprofit Data—And I Couldn’t Be More in Love

By October 24, 2016

By: TJ Warfield, Salesforce Technical Strategist, BrightStep Partners

It used to be that a nonprofit’s database existed as a means to track donations and maybe even provide some CRM capacity. Several years ago, I was impressed when Salesforce allowed a nonprofit to house both donation and programmatic data, allowing for a full view of a constituent’s involvement with the organization. Now, though, I mean wow. Just. Wow. The nonprofit database is no longer just to track data, with the data entry and integrations being the focus. Now, it is all about HOW the data can be used to better the relationship between the orgs and their donors and constituents.

With Salesforce and NPSP, nonprofits spend less of that valuable and, often, very limited budget on data and the underlying data platform. Instead,’s free Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) provides easily customizable tools that allow nonprofit staff to better serve their mission by improving how they do business day to day.

As of this month, I have worked with Salesforce for seven years. During that time as a nonprofit employee, I have implemented Salesforce with a NPSP version 1 template, migrated to a new instance with an expensive, big managed package, and finally come back to NPSP. As a nonprofit consultant, I have implemented new instances with NPSP, upgraded NPSP and migrated enterprise level nonprofits off expensive managed packages to NPSP. This is why I am fully confident when I say that NPSP is a valuable tool for nonprofits, big or small, fundraising focused or programmatic—NPSP just gets the job done.

NPSP annual campaign

In the past, I have compared NPSP to a Lego starter kit. NPSP provides the core functionality a nonprofit needs without limiting the org with functionality it doesn’t. Also like a Lego starter kit, NPSP is easily customized into whatever the org requires by using native Salesforce tools, optional NPSP functionality or apps from the AppExchange. The newest releases of both Salesforce and NPSP provide non-technical, nonprofit staff sophisticated functionality that is easy to use and just as easy customize for their staff and org to better meet their goals and potential.

Okay, enough cheerleading—what, exactly are these amazing benefits? For one, NPSP being a product of with the added advantage of being open-source and community driven, NPSP is always being improved. In the past year, it has gone from a helpful, fundraising app to an essential tool for nonprofits by setting the industry standard in both fundraising and programmatic processes. With the new release of NPSP, this can’t be more true.

I am not exaggerating when I say that when I read the beta release notes, I did a happy dance. With Engagement Plans, Levels, and Deliverables, NPSP provides exceptional pipeline management functionality to nonprofits. As I mentioned before, NPSP doesn’t limit nonprofits. Levels and Engagement Plans are easily customizable for the way your specific nonprofit does business – even if that means using custom objects as a part of your pipeline.

Salesforce’s commitment to providing point-and-click tools for admins makes the Salesforce-NPSP pairing that much more powerful. With the Summer ’16 and Winter ’17 releases, admins are able to do more than I have ever imaged without the reliance on developers. Automation and functionality that was previously only attainable via complex code, is now easily created with point-and-click tools like Process Builder, Flow and Workflows.

I could go on and on about all the ways Salesforce and NPSP are just right for nonprofits. But in an attempt to not become TL;DR, I will try to summarize everything and leave you with one last thought. Nonprofits need an inexpensive yet robust instrument to not just track data, but easily create actionable and adaptive tactics to better cultivate funders and serve their constituents—Salesforce with NPSP is that instrument. Period.

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