: Who is successfully using Salesforce as a CRM and communication tool? What features do they make most use of? What do they wish it could do that it won't? What modules do they utilize? How much is it costing? Is there a community of developers or programmers out there to help customize?Paul Hagen with Hagen 20/20, a consultancy that focus on nonprofit CRM projects, including substantial work with Salesforce, says:
Like any piece of software, some use Salesforce well and others use it poorly. Those who use it well: 1) spend the bulk of their time up front defining their processes and then choose software that matches those processes; 2) spend the necessary time after implementation managing the cultural change within the organization (incentives, reporting, training, executive use).
There is an incredibly broad range of things that one can do with Salesforce. Why? It’s a platform on which you can build pretty much anything you want. Most nonprofits are using the basic contact management, reporting, and web forms creation for things like email newsletter sign-ups and registrations. A significant portion are tying in one of the many 3rd party bulk emailers that integrate into Salesforce. Most have customized it or use the nonprofit template to manage donations, fundraise from foundations and major donors, and manage volunteers. Because it’s a platform (rather than a packaged application like Convio, Kintera, or Democracy In Action), nonprofits can (and are) doing an incredibly wide range of things.
Organizations like Little Kids Rock are managing a wide range of constituents that include teachers, donors, volunteers, and business partners. VolunteerMatch is using Salesforce to manage interactions with donors, volunteers, businesses who buy its services, and Google’s Adwords program. Family Services Agency created a case management system which manages client data, treatment notes, and billing information. Salesforce has a great collection of case studies
, as do many of their implementation partners, to give you an idea of how nonprofits are using the application.
Regarding costs…it really depends on what you build. I’ve said this a few times already, but I’ll say it again. Salesforce is a platform, not a packaged application. Think Filemaker Pro, but on mega steroids (forget whatever baggage you’ve got about Filemaker – this is the enterprise class, Web 2.0 version that’s far more powerful and easy to build on). Salesforce comes with some pretty powerful built-in functionality for basic contact management, but you’re doing the Lego thing plugging in 3rd party applications and customizing the platform to your needs. If you’re an organization with very few constituent types and are doing very simple contact management, you can probably get by with little or no customization or Groundspring’s donor management version for under $3-5K. If you’ve got a wider range of non-standard constituents, you may need some heavier customization, application development, and integration into other key systems like Raiser’s Edge, a content management system, and/or a custom legacy application that could get you into the 6 figures. The best way to approach this is to go back to what I stated earlier – spend time defining your processes and putting those down on paper. Send that out to implementation partners to get quotes and understand the cost drivers. This will also help you to determine if other applications like Democracy In Action, Convio, or Donor Perfect can handle your requirements.
There is a growing community of developers helping nonprofits to customize and get started with Salesforce. Some are nonprofits themselves, like OneNorthwest, NPower, and Groundspring/NetworkForGood. There are also a growing number of certified Salesforce partners
that are focused heavily on the nonprofit sector. Search for “nonprofit salesforce” on Google and you’ll find some of the many support communities of nonprofits and providers that are burgeoning.The Ask Idealware posts take on some of the questions that you send us at email@example.com. Have a great option to suggest for this question? Hate our responses? Help us out by entering your own answer as a comment below.