What can a newer Salesforce Admin do for a Nonprofit? - Sarah's Tips

Jan 6, 2023 · 24m 59s
What can a newer Salesforce Admin do for a Nonprofit? - Sarah's Tips

Sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Technopath Way Tips, here: https://www.http://technopath.ac-page.com/the-technopath-way-sign-up Are you ready to take the Nonprofit Cloud Consultant Exam? Use our checklist to find out: http://technopath.ac-page.com/exam-readiness-checklist This...

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Sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Technopath Way Tips, here: https://www.technopath.ac-page.com/the-technopath-way-sign-up
Are you ready to take the Nonprofit Cloud Consultant Exam? Use our checklist to find out: technopath.ac-page.com/exam-readiness-checklist

This week on The Technopath Way, Sarah is flying solo with some common pitfalls many newer Salesforce Admins face when looking for experience by volunteering at nonprofits and 8 tips on how to avoid them.
Tip #1: To understand what the nonprofit needs you first need to understand nonprofits and the nonprofit success pack.
If you sit down to discovery with them and you don’t understand how nonprofits function, that’s like being unprepared for an interview.
Study how nonprofits work. This is why I teach about it in my training program. Nonprofits are scrutinized more than for profits — by the government, by the board, by foundations and grantmakers, by their donors, and a lot of information is public. A clean system can be the difference between getting a grant and not.

Tip #2: Start with something simple, choose one pain point
Know your time and how much you have to devote. If you bite off a big project and then realize you didn’t really have time to volunteer, you are leaving the nonprofit with a big hole. Even if your new and it is hard to gauge how long something might take, you may want to block off 4-6 hours on your calendar a week until you are done with the deliverables you’ve defined.
Bonus Tip: Once you have the one pain point you are going to solve for, make sure that the feature being requested isn’t already offered for free by NPSP. Some of the NPSP solutions are too complex or are add on features that cost money. The fees for Salesforce’s donation product, Elevate, may be something the Makerspace could afford, but in the case of integrations, you want to bring them a few options and do your research.

Tip #3: Don’t forget to ask them for a login!
This should be the first assignment you give to the nonprofit. You got to see what you are dealing with now that you know their pain points. You may need to send them instructions on how to create a user.
Bonus Tip: On a Salesforce Saturday for Nonprofits we hosted in the past, Paul Ginsberg talked about what you should do on the first day on the job of being a Salesforce admin for a non-profit. The first thing he said (and we think this is a really great tip) is to create a sandbox. This gives you a copy of exactly where the system was when you started. Also create a backup file of their data, this also gives you a file with the starting point. If you have an integration request like the one at Markerspace, create an integration user if they don’t already have one.

Tip #4: Don’t fear production

A big pitfall we see in a lot of new admins is that they’ve heard the advice about ALWAYS building in a Sandbox first so much that they are scared to do anything in production.
Do most things in a sandbox, but don’t be afraid to push to production.
Especially for nonprofits who are not yet using the system and don’t have tons of data, you are not going to screw what they have up that much, because they don’t really have anything yet.
Bonus Tip: Did you also know that if you really screw something up on you can call Salesforce and put in a case to have a system revert to a prior date. Avoid this like the plague, but know that it is possible.

Tip #5: Build some reports and dashboards

This is one of the first things you should bone up on. The only reason nonprofits want to have a system is for reports. They are scrutinized by so many different audiences and parties that they need to be able to pull reports quickly when a donor asks. They want to make strategic decisions based on donor retention and other key performance indicators and you can help them with that!
The great thing about reports is that it doesn't touch any of their core system or functionality.
Bonus Tip: Let them know that you can schedule reports or dashboards to come to them weekly or monthly. They might not know this.

I have some lessons on easy lift reports like donor retention in the Salesforce Saturday vimeo collection. Ask your nonprofit about the kind of metrics that their board or funders ask them for. If they do have clean data, you can build reports that display things in a way that really helps them. Some things they may be struggling with if they have already started pulling reports is soft credits. It is so crucial I’ve touched on it in multiple Salesforce Saturdays, my mini-course, extensively in my study guide and in the Nonprofit Training Program. Be sure you understand how these work if you are working with a nonprofit that expresses this as one of their pain points.

Tip #6: Don’t take on data cleanup unless you have excel skills

We aren’t saying you can’t do this, but you need to have fairly excellent Excel skills. The NPSP data model is complex and it is really important to know if you are working with nonprofits. (link at the bottom of the notes to Excel learning materials)

Tip #7: Do not build something hard to maintain and leave behind documentation

You are fabulous and will not be there forever so make sure whatever you build, avoid hard coding unstructured data as variables in automations or report filters like a campaign name. If someone isn’t aware you did this and renames a campaign, what you built no longer functions.

You do not need to reinvent the wheel.

Tip #8: Leave behind documentation
This is SUPER important. It’s a huge focus of the portfolio project within my Nonprofit Training Program and for good reason! It is such a waste of your time if you build out Salesforce and no one uses it.
Bonus tip: There are programs that make creating this documentation a breeze like Scribe, which is what we use in class.
Links mentioned in the episode:
Study Guide Preview:
Course page:
Power of One Formula:
Excel Course and Cheat Sheets
Melissa Hill-Dees book:
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Author Sarah Epting
Organization Sarah Epting
Website -

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