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Salesforce for non-profit organizations

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By Rhoni Rakos |November 21, 2023
Digital Strategy

No one will tell you that moving from your current CRM platform to Salesforce is easy, but we can tell you there is an easier way to do it. When nonprofits are ready to make the shift to Salesforce, having the right team in place and the right mindset for the launch makes all the difference.

Before you start trying to implement Salesforce on your own, browse some of our commonly answered questions when it comes to launching Salesforce. As experts in bridging gaps and supporting missions, we’re a Salesforce Trusted Partner with strategy, implementation, and support experience.

Salesforce for non-profit organizations


  • What is Salesforce?
  • Can nonprofits use Salesforce?
  • What is the best platform for nonprofit organizations?
  • Why do nonprofits use Salesforce?
  • What kind of nonprofit teams need Salesforce?
  • How much does Salesforce cost nonprofits?
  • How much does a Salesforce consultant cost?
  • How long is it going to take for a consultant to set up Salesforce for my nonprofit?
  • What’s the best way to get started with Salesforce for nonprofits?
  • What are the benefits of working with a Salesforce consultant before setting up our CRM platform?
  • Can a consultant help me if my nonprofit is already using Salesforce?
  • How do nonprofits make Salesforce work long-term?
  • What are the benefits of keeping a Salesforce consultant on to support my nonprofit?
  • What business goals can Salesforce help nonprofits achieve?
  • What do nonprofits need to know before implementing Salesforce?

What is Salesforce?

What is SalesforceSalesforce is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform that helps for-profits and nonprofits to manage their customer experience.

The platform allows non-profit organizations to gather data and automate tasks across functions such as fundraising, program management, operations, marketing and member engagement, and more. It aligns teams by giving them a single, shared view of their members, participants, volunteers and supporters. Organizations that use Salesforce can tailor their CRM experience in innumerable ways to help them meet their wider goals.

Can nonprofits use Salesforce?

Yes, nonprofits can use Salesforce for program, grant, donor, case and membership management, as well as for marketing. The Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud is a cloud based CRM created to help nonprofits streamline their processes and workload, and grow their organizations through meaningful data.

What is the best platform for nonprofit organizations?

What is the best platform for nonprofit organizationsSalesforce’s broad capabilities and features make it the best CRM platform for nonprofit organizations.

Your potential to build out the ideal CRM, tailored to your organization, is unlimited. Salesforce also has an extensive AppExchange, which means sometimes getting the customization you want is simply integrating an app on top of the Salesforce platform. This saves you time and money, as you don’t have to create everything from scratch.

Once you’re able to clearly define what you want Salesforce to do, you can automate it. By automating repetitive manual tasks, your team can focus on better ways to deliver value. It’s essential to make the most of the people and resources you have on hand, so anything that can be automated, should be.

Since Salesforce contains so many options and possibilities, the question is rarely, “Can we do this?” Instead, it’s, “Is there a better way to achieve our desired outcome?”

It’s a broad tool, so it won’t just impact one area of your organization. Salesforce can support your organization with:

  • Constituent management
  • Donation and fundraising
  • Case management
  • Grants management
  • Marketing Automation
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Account management
  • Accounting

Considering it can enable all these departments to work together effectively, Salesforce is by far the most comprehensive and customizable tool to help nonprofits enhance their constituent and member experience and support their mission.

Is Salesforce better than HubSpot for nonprofits?

Selecting the right CRM is about finding the right fit for your nonprofits growth and budget. Salesforce isn’t necessarily better than HubSpot, rather they support different kinds of organizations with different budgets.

Salesforce is a better fit for mid to enterprise-level nonprofits, ready to make a bigger impact on their mission. The deployment cost is a bigger investment upfront, however it’s the top tier when it comes to CRM capabilities, so your organization will likely only need CRM management support once the initial investment is made.

If you have a smaller organization and budget, Hubspot may be a good starting point until you’re ready to move to Salesforce.

Why do nonprofits use Salesforce? What are some of the best features for nonprofits?

Nonprofits use Salesforce to help keep track of their data and make meaningful changes, growth and adjustments based on that data – improving their donor and membership experience, and supporting their wider mission.

The Nonprofit Cloud has functionality that is core to the nonprofit industry. Out of the box, nonprofits can track:

From there, a consultant can help you build anything else you might need. Once this tracking is implemented, Salesforce can also automate multiple touch points across the member landscape. For example, Salesforce can automatically alert your members when their renewal date is approaching and notify them when their payment is successful or if it’s declined.

These automations act as revenue drivers by saving your people time, and shifting their energy away from manual tasks and towards big picture progress. From system tracking to phone banking and tabling, Salesforce can collect all your necessary member data and help you to leverage the insights within.

What kind of nonprofit teams need Salesforce?

What kind of nonprofit teams need SalesforceGiven its wide range of capabilities, any nonprofit team can benefit from using Salesforce for automations and data management.

The essential element any team needs to make Salesforce adoption a success is a readiness to embrace technology. There will likely be resistance from some team members who have their preferred ways of running day-to-day tasks, so it also needs decision-makers who are able to lead them through the changes and put the focus on how much more than can do with Salesforce.

How much does Salesforce cost nonprofits?

Nonprofits can get 10 user licenses for free from Salesforce through The Power of Us Program. When you scale beyond 10 users, or need more robust capabilities, you’ll have to invest in the paid version.

How much your organization spends on your Salesforce account depends primarily on how you’ll be using it, and how many users will need access. The Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud Enterprise Edition is $60 per user, per month. While the Ultimate Edition, which includes extra storage, flexibility and support, is $100 per user, per month.

The price won’t be accessible for every organization, but those that can adopt it stand to benefit financially. On average, organizations using Salesforce see an estimated 25% saving on IT costs and a 26% increase in employee productivity. Salesforce also report that non profits see a 130% increase in total online giving.

You can check out the full list of pricing to get a better idea of how much Salesforce could cost for your nonprofit.

How much do Salesforce consultants cost?

Working with a Salesforce consultant can cost $170-250 or more per hour, depending on the consultant’s level of experience and certifications, and your organization’s needs. Keep in mind though, the consultant team will likely be saving your organization money in the long run.

It’s usually worth the investment. Often, nonprofits will task members of their team with setting up their Salesforce platform, only to find after months of trial and error that they need support.

At that point, it’s almost always easier for a consultant to start the implementation again rather than unpick the issues in what’s been done already. By bringing a consultant on early, your systems and processes will be working for you faster, and your team will be able to focus on their jobs, and what they do best.

If you’re ready to get a quote for the cost of your project, fill out our contact form.

How long is it going to take for a consultant to set up Salesforce?

How long is it going to take for a consultant to set up Salesforce? Normally it takes four to nine months for a consultant to set up Salesforce on behalf of a nonprofit. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule and a true estimate depends on your needs.

During a demo or intro call a consultant will ask you questions like:

  • What’s the size of your organization?
  • What capabilities are essential for your organization to keep running?
  • Is your organization looking to use Nonprofit Cloud?
  • Are you hoping to implement technology roadmapping and use of apps from the AppExchange?

Once questions like these are answered, the consultant will be able to give you a better idea of how long it will take to get your organization up and running.

What’s the best way to get started with Salesforce as a nonprofit?

The best way to get started with Salesforce as a nonprofit is to first recognize the capabilities of your team and look for help where you fall short.

If you don’t have a team member with Salesforce experience, then it’s time to bring in help from outside to maximize your investment and make your business more efficient.

Finding a certified consultant like fusionSpan can make all the difference in expediting your onboarding to the CRM platform, and keeping your organization moving forward regardless of new releases and capabilities.

Nonprofits who try to implement Salesforce on their own often end up at a consultant agency after months of frustration and failed rollouts. In the long run, it’s often more time consuming and expensive to have someone come in and reimplement, as fixing isn’t always an option.

Start with getting an expert on board from the beginning.

What are the benefits of working with a Salesforce consultant before setting up your CRM platform?

What are the benefits of working with a Salesforce consultant before setting up your CRM platform?A Salesforce consultant can help with buy-in, adoption, support, and long-term management of your CRM platform.

1. Buy-in

Often, our clients come to us after they have already purchased Salesforce. But if you haven’t already purchased Salesforce, we can help you plan for change and adoption. We start by evaluating the staff capacity and capabilities. We identify gaps and help the folks in the current system expedite their tasks while minimizing resistance to change.

2. Change management

To maximize the impact of adopting salesforce, you need a strategy and structured process behind the transition. For instance, there’s a good chance your entire association may need to be trained on how to use your new CRM, and they may need to adapt their current approach to their role, or collaborate with other departments in ways they haven’t before.

3. Live support

We pride ourselves on flawless launches, but sometimes the unexpected does happen. When it does, we’re available for support so that your IT team doesn’t have to add Salesforce troubleshooting to their already long list of responsibilities.

4. Post-implementation support and management services

With a CRM as complex as Salesforce, you can expect updates, new capabilities, and system maintenance. You’ll want a consulting team that knows your system inside and out to keep your programs running smoothly.

Can a consultant help me if my nonprofit is already using Salesforce?

Yes, a consultant can help you if your nonprofit is already using Salesforce.

Often we find nonprofits who have set up their Salesforce on their own aren’t always aware of the wide range of capabilities and best practices like we are. Over a quick call, we can have a conversation about how you’re using Salesforce now, your desired business outcomes, provide a demo, and help you visualize how Salesforce can make a bigger impact for your nonprofit, and mission.

How do nonprofits make Salesforce work long-term?

When it comes to your organization using Salesforce for the long haul, here are some things to strive for:

1. You need a subject matter expert for your Salesforce instance.

This can be an external consulting organization, or an internal hire. Ideally, there’s a subject matter expert and an administrator for your organization’s CRM. These roles ensure data quality and evaluate upgrades. Even a fractional administrator is better than none.

2. Each employee in your organization should have ownership

If the adoption isn’t there, Salesforce won’t get used. When your team doesn’t use the CRM, or doesn’t use the CRM the right way, then valuable chunks of data go missing. Or their jobs simply don’t get done. Widespread adoption helps your nonprofit get the most value out of your investment.

3. Evaluate your Salesforce system with every new release.

Using Salesforce isn’t a one-and-done situation, especially for major nonprofits.

Salesforce has three regular releases each year in Spring, Summer and Winter, and these can include new features, quality-of-life updates and security upgrades.

With each release, you’ll want to evaluate how you’re using Salesforce, so you can adapt to any changes and enhance how you’re working. It’s smart to work with your consulting team to plan for these strategic upgrades.

What are the benefits of keeping a Salesforce consultant on to support my nonprofit?

A Salesforce consultant can help you with best practices, roadmapping, rollouts, updates, integrations and more.

You need to know how to operate your system. Unless you have a full time Salesforce person in-house, you’ll want a partner to guide you and maintain your new system while circumnavigating any hiccups or issues along the way. This also enables your team to focus on your mission while the consultants focus on your CRM.

What goals can Salesforce help nonprofits achieve?

What goals can Salesforce help nonprofits achieve1. Better understand and improve your engagement.

Often organizations have outgrown their current systems and can’t track all their data, especially engagement tracking. Salesforce allows you to identify engaged constituents and get a better, bigger picture of your overall engagement, so you can make more informed decisions. Nonprofits who use Salesforce for Fundraising on average report a 54% increase in donor engagement.

2. Create a seamless revenue generation experience.

Nothing can hamper a nonprofit’s efforts more than a poor experience with your CRM. If there are too many steps to make a donation or purchase, prospects can be quick to drift away. Salesforce makes transactions quick and easy.

3. Amplify your e-commerce efforts.

From books to donations to memberships and beyond, great e-commerce data helps you sell more. The more you sell, the greater impact you can have on your organization’s mission.

What do nonprofits need to know before implementing Salesforce?

1. You need to prioritize buy-in.

Change is scary, even for people working in organizations that want to change the world. Getting everyone’s buy-in and managing the adoption of new processes is one of the biggest tasks when moving to Salesforce. Don’t leave your team behind when making this decision – you’ll need them for this move to be successful!

2. Consultants can save you time and money.

It’s never too late to get a consultant involved, even if you’ve already tried implementing Salesforce. The best way to save your organization time and money if you don’t have a Salesforce implementation expert on your team is to contact a certified partner, like a Salesforce Impact Partner, to get your implementation moving in the right direction.

3. It’s an ongoing investment.

Adopting Salesforce is the first step in a big adventure towards accomplishing your mission. If you want your organization to make the most of your Salesforce investment, roadmapping where you are and where you want to go are essential for a successful roll-out.

It might be time to find out if Salesforce can save your team time, while amplifying your mission. Fill out a contact form to get started.

Not ready to get in touch with us just yet? Get our CRM/AMS Implementations Guide to learn more about implementing Salesforce.

Rhoni Rakos
Salesforce for non-profit organizations

Rhoni is a digital strategist and customer experience designer with over 10 years in the field designing digital experiences using user-centered research and design strategies. She has focused her career on mission-driven organizations, non-profits and associations, ensuring they using technology to maximize their impact. Rhoni is excited to be developing fusionSpan's Digital Strategy specialization, helping organizations harness the power of intuitive and powerful experiences across their digital ecosystems.

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