Is Salesforce The Right CRM For Your Nonprofit?

Salesforce is a powerful Constituent Relationship Management tool that affords a lot of flexibility when it comes to managing donors, programs, incoming grants and volunteers, but is it the right solution for your nonprofit?

As a data services project manager at Tech Impact, I spend a lot of time fielding this question and helping my nonprofit clients determine which operations database best meets their needs. Having supported and implemented many instances of the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack, I’ve created the below questions to help you determine if Salesforce could be the right solution for your nonprofit. 

  1. Do you have less than 10 users? Salesforce is free for up to 10 users and then available at a discounted rate for the eleventh user, onward. For a 501(c)3, the discounted rate is $36 per user per month.
  2. Do you have a lot of constituents? Unlike other CRM systems, Salesforce does NOT charge based on the number of contacts. This could make Salesforce a good choice for nonprofits that have a lot of constituents to manage.
  3. Do you have a unique donation or grant process? Salesforce offers a high level of customization, so you can get the system to track and manage processes that are unique to your organization. Other out-of-the-box donor management systems are more limited in their flexibility, meaning you can’t always create special processes to meet your specific needs.
  4. Do you want to add program management modules? Again, with the customization possible in Salesforce, this capability can be added. Out of the box, the Nonprofit Success Pack provides decent donation management function and there are added capabilities that can be added from the AppExchange. AppExchange offers a selection of software written to integrate and add functionality to Salesforce. There are fees associated with this type of software, but there are often discounted options for nonprofits.Tiers of Donor Management Software
  5. Do you need training? Trailheads, Salesforce’s online training platform, is a solid education tool. It includes a lot of content and forums for training and troubleshooting and is great tool for people who are comfortable with online research and training.

Was your answer “yes” to the above questions? If so, then Salesforce may be the right CRM for your nonprofit, however there are a few other considerations to be aware of before you take next steps.

  • You’ll need a staff member dedicated to Salesforce. Salesforce is a relatively complex system that needs to be cared for and maintained on an ongoing basis. This means, you’ll need to have at least one person who is responsible for providing basic support and ongoing database management. If you don’t have this skill set on staff, you can outsource your data management needs to a technology services provider, like Tech Impact. However, you’ll still need to have a point person on staff who can manage that relationship and who is responsible for all Salesforce functions and requests.  
  • Customization costs can add up. The flexibility of Salesforce comes with a price tag, especially if you require a lot of customization. Once again, you’ll need to outsource this to a technology services provider, like Tech Impact, as it isn’t likely you’ll have someone on staff with the ability to manipulate the system to meet your needs. Implementation costs can be high depending on the type of customization you need.
  • You will likely need extra support. The support included with Salesforce may not meet your organization’s need. Salesforce support staff don’t typically know a lot about the Nonprofit Success Pack and are used to working with for-profit clients. Out-of-the-box donor management systems are generally easier for nonprofits to support and the vendor support is geared to nonprofits only.

As you can see, there are a lot of considerations that need to be made when selecting the right database to manage operations for your nonprofit. If Salesforce doesn’t seem like a good match for you, there are a lot of other donation management systems to consider such as, DonorPerfect, NeonCRM, Fundly CRM, Salsa, and Blackbaud.

If you need additional help determining the best database for your nonprofit, please request a free consult with one of our data experts. We’re happy to help you find the right database solution for your nonprofit’s needs.

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