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Salesforce CRM was originally created for Business-to-Business(B2B) companies, so sometimes a little translation can be helpful to nonprofits implementing Salesforce. Check out this vocabulary list for some basic definitions and translations.

account: an organization, company, or partner that you want to track — for example, a partner organization, a Foundation, another nonprofit, a school, or a company where your contact is employed. In Salesforce, all contacts are tied to accounts. In the Nonprofit Starter Pack, there are two methods for managing individual contacts and accounts.

AppExchange: a sharing interface from that allows you to browse and share apps and services for the platform via the web. The AppExchange allows you to extend the functionality of Salesforce with Apps for things like: sending bulk email; managing volunteers; ticket sales; online donation processing, and more.

app: short for “application.” Basically, an app is a collection of components such as tabs, reports, dashboards, and Visualforce pages that address a specific organizational need. provides standard apps such as Sales and Marketing. The Nonprofit Starter Pack or "Nonprofit CRM" is an app from You can create a custom app or download other apps like these from the AppExchange.

campaign: a series of tactics and/or programs designed to achieve a certain organizational objective. For nonprofits, this objective might be fundraising, calls to action, client outreach, education, volunteer management or raising awareness. And it might include tactics like mass email, events, direct mail, and advertising.

cloud computing: a model for software development and distribution where the technology infrastructure for a service, including data, is hosted on the Internet. This allows users to develop and use services with Internet browsers instead of investing in hardware, software, or maintenance. Watch What is Cloud Computing?

contact: contacts are those individuals associated with your organization. They can be donors, volunteers, clients, students, etc. Your org can set up multiple contact types. All contacts must be associated to an account unless they are a private "person" account. 

custom object: custom records or fields that are grouped together and that allow you to store information that is unique to your organization. You can use custom objects to manage your unique programs and services.

dashboard: A visual representation of your report data. It gives you a real-time snapshot of your outcome measurements and key evaluation indicators. Click on a dashboard to see the report from which it is created. Learn more about dashboards.

household: In the Nonprofit Starter Pack, the Households package provides the ability to group contacts around a physical address, limiting mailings to only one piece per physical address, and aggregating donation and membership information.

lead: a lead is a potential “sales” opportunity. When you see “leads,” think prospective donors, program participants, members, etc. These are people who might have expressed an interest in your programs, but with whom you have yet to have significant interaction.

object: An object allows you to store information in your organization. The object is the overall definition of the type of information you are storing. If you are familiar with Excel, you might think about an object as a worksheet or a table. "Contacts" is a standard object in Salesforce CRM.

opportunities: an opportunity is a transactional activity that you want to track. For nonprofits, think of opportunities as grant applications, pledge payments, individual donations, product sales, fee-for-service activities, or any other financial transaction. In the Nonprofit Starter Pack, Opportunities have been renamed “Donations.”

organization (or org): An organization is the virtual space provided to an individual customer of Your organization includes all of your data and applications, and is separate from all other organizations.

profile: a profile in Salesforce is a group of settings and permissions assigned to a user. Profiles controls what a user can do in Salesforce. There are standard profiles. Or you can create custom profiles. These are different from an individual Chatter profile.

sales: ok, you know what this is, but whenever you see it in Salesforce documentation, just think about it in terms of relationship building for donations, fee-for-service, membership and other nonprofit transactional relationships.

sandbox: A sandbox in Salesforce is a copy of what Salesforce calls your “production environment” – Salesforce.organization where you do your work and where your live data is stored. Sandboxes are completely isolated from your production organization, so anything that you do in your sandboxes will not affect your production application and vice-versa. That makes sandboxes the perfect place to test applications from the AppExchange, develop customizations of your own, and do staff training.