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Salesforce Spring ‘17 Release Highlights For Higher Ed and Nonprofit Organizations

By March 14, 2017

Three times a year, offers major releases with hundreds of new features and enhancements — ultimately allowing organizations to connect to their constituents in a whole new way. It’s time to find the feature gold at the end of the Spring 17 rainbow!

Salesforce Spring 2017 Rainbow Logo

Spring ‘17 brought many new and exciting features that are relevant to Nonprofits and Higher Ed Institutions of all sizes, here are the highlights:

Improvements to Existing Features

There are various improvements to existing features (view all new features here):

  • Web to Lead: reCAPTCHA Web Form Validation– Improve the quality of your leads with spam filtering using the new reCAPTCHA widget. This widget requires interested customers to select a checkbox before they can submit an inquiry about your organization or institution.
  • reCAPTCHA validation example screenshot

  • Search For Contacts Using the Related Account Name– Now, it’s easier than ever to find a contact. Enter a first or last name, or both, plus the account name. Contacts that match the search terms and relate the specified account are returned. This applies to Lightning Experience, Salesforce Classic, and all versions of the Salesforce1 mobile app.
  • Contact Search on Org62 Screenshot

  • Change Picklist label without changing the API Name– Changing a picklist value label used to change it’s API name as well. If that API name was used in an integration with another system, this would break that integration. Now you can edit the picklist label that a user sees without changing the API name that another system “sees.”

Improvements to Existing Features in Salesforce Lightning

  • View Account Hierarchy in Lightning– Account hierarchies give your team a bird’s-eye view of relationships between parent and subsidiary accounts. This feature is now available to Lightning Experience users with a bonus: you can customize hierarchy columns to show the information that’s most useful to your teams.
  • Campaign Member Management– Let your marketing users set up and manage the member status values for each of their campaigns when you add the Campaign Member Statuses related list to Campaign page layouts. Marketers can create customized member status values for different types of campaigns. The related list also lets them choose a default member status for each campaign, and decide which statuses should indicate a response by the campaign member.
  • campaign manager on org62 screenshot

  • Campaign Hierarchy Preview– Utilizing Campaign Hierarchies provides you the ability to perform side-by-side comparison of campaign sub-groupings across broader campaigns.
  • Find and merge duplicate contacts and accounts– If you’ve already given your users permission to merge records in Salesforce Classic, now they can also see potential duplicates and merge records for Accounts and Contacts in Lightning Experience. You’ll see a consistent interface across accounts, contacts, and leads which simplifies duplicate management for everyone.

New in Salesforce Lightning

  • Create shortcuts to your top Salesforce Pages with Favorites– If you’re familiar with the customizing tab sets in Salesforce Classic, you’ll appreciate the way you can personalize your Lightning Experience navigation with favorites. Favorites let you quickly access important records, lists, groups, dashboards, and other frequently used pages in Salesforce. They’re similar to bookmarks in a web browser but better because your favorites are available no matter which browser or computer you use.
  • Kanban– Kanban offers an optimized view is available on most standard objects and all custom objects. Simply select Kanban from the display menu on a list view. The Kanban view is only available in the Lightning Experience.
  • project planning on org62 screenshot

  • Global Search– We’ve added another shortcut option to the instant results drop-down in Lightning. When you know which object you want to search, start typing the name of the object in the search box. You have the option to limit your search to that object—before entering your search terms. The scoping option remains in the search box to use again, or you can remove it by clicking the “X”. You can do this from anywhere in the app! This means you don’t have to go to an Accounts page to search accounts.
  • accounts search on org62 screenshot

  • Take more actions from the global action menu– Users can create records from anywhere in the application. Admins can configure which global actions appear in the dropdown menu in Setup.
  • Expand a dashboard component– Users can expand dashboard components in Lightning. Click an icon to open a dashboard component in a window and see a larger version of the component, view all the details and drill down into the underlying report.


  • Chatter home redesign in the Lightning Experience– The Chatter home tab in Lightning Experience gives you more of what you want—customization. We introduced a new Company Highlights feed, the ability to create your own feeds with streams, a list of recent groups, and a way to share posts.
  • Updates on Chatter Org62 Screenshot

  • Files Related List: New Actions- Now you can download, Update, Rename or Share a file directly from the files related list. Previously, if you wanted to attach a file from Salesforce to your record, you had to post it in the record’s Chatter feed. Now, in Lightning Experience and Communities, you can attach Salesforce files to a record right from the files card, even if you don’t have Chatter enabled. You can also share an existing Salesforce File or a Files Connect external file with a record directly from the files related list, without having to use the record feed.
  • New actions with file related lists org62 screenshot

  • Send Email Activation: Replace Lightning Composer- The Lightning Email Composer has been replaced with a customizable Send Email action. This action can be invoked from anywhere in Lightning Experience using the Global Actions menu. The Send Email action is customizable by adding or removing fields to meet your company’s needs.

NPSP Releases Highlights

The Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) highlights include:

  • Lightning Experience– New trials, documentation and Trailhead are in lightning
  • Path with Engagement Plans– determine and customize the stages that appear for your team with Path once engagement plans have been created. You will need to add a Status picklist if you want to do this right now. We are considering adding it standard very soon.
  • Improved NPSP Data Import– HUB Idea- ​New matching options for Contact Id, Account Id (such as Household Id) and Last Name, First Name, Phone Number
  • NPSP Highlights Update Screenshot

HEDA Releases Highlights

The Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA) is a community-driven data architecture and set of best practices designed to configure Salesforce out of the box for Higher Ed.

Since its launch over a year ago, has seen great momentum, including:

  • 20+ Higher Education Data Architecture Releases
  • 200+ Production Orgs
  • 530+ orgs push upgraded every two weeks
  • One Lightning Native App

And a new product is in the works:

Salesforce Advisor Link

Salesforce Advisor Link delivers insights to both advisors and students — promoting smart engagement at every point of interaction.

Salesforce Advisor Link Screenshot

Release Like a Pro

Be an #awesomeadmin by developing your release strategy. We recommend a three step process:

1. Plan it out– Review available resources, log changes to existing processes or experiences, and review feature timing and new solutions.

2. Make it happen– Test in your sandbox then implement in your production org.

3. Share it– Review documentation, release highlights and training and share the information with others. Trailhead has made it even easier with the Spring ‘17 Release Trail. Get your release prep badge here.

If you’re interested in learning more, find out what’s in the entire Spring ‘17 release and view our Highlights of Spring ‘17 webinar recording.