Why would a Nonprofit use Salesforce?

Let's start with the basics. Salesforce is a CRM, which stands for Customer Relationship Management. A CRM is an application which provides you with recommended practices, business strategies and technologies that aim to help you build a stronger connection with your customers. The main advantages of using a CRM such as Salesforce are that it keeps your data organized, boosts communications between the workforce and partners or customers, and makes reporting issues simple, among many advantages.

Now, what if instead of customers you have donors? That’s no problem! Even though CRMs are mostly company-oriented, Nonprofit organizations can greatly benefit from using Salesforce. For example, you can improve the way you track your donors and volunteers by saving them as individual contacts in your organization. By doing so, you could have a quick summary on every donation they made, see what relationship they have with other donors and organizations, or automatically send emails to inform them about your new programs. These capabilities make data easier to read, maintain and improve. Plus, many Salesforce features will make your job more efficient by automating actions, tracking current leads, engagement plans, and marketing programs, establishing stronger relationships with your donors and much more.

In 2018, Salesforce leveled up their game and presented Nonprofit organizations with a new cloud that makes your work easier and is specifically built to solve the needs of organizations like yours.

What is Nonprofit Cloud?

Salesforce understands the needs of Nonprofit organizations and knows the huge amount of time needed for the technological management of their data, processes, and campaigns. Nonprofit Cloud is a tailor-made solution to this, offering a set of tools that'll help your organization fulfill its purpose in an effective and efficient way.

Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud is a bundle; it not only contains 1, but 3 different clouds (Sales, Marketing, and Communities Cloud), all of which could greatly benefit your workflow.

Nonprofit Cloud offers a set of solutions to enhance your performance in each of the following areas:


Improve your grantmaking process by centralizing its lifecycle management and making more intelligent and data-driven decisions.


Improve tracking for your organization’s possible donors and perform in depth research on every possible source of funds.

Marketing and Engagement

Create and reinforce relationships with your most important supporters and plan the best strategies to engage new ones.

Program Management

Reach your full potential by improving your program’s organizing methods and outreach. Prioritize your efforts by identifying individuals or organizations that require urgent help and enhance the assistance you provide.


Standardize and improve all your internal operations in one place.

The Nonprofit Cloud is mainly supported by NPSP, which provides the data model that adapts Salesforce to your business model and supplies the core functionalities. We could say that the Nonprofit Cloud rests on the shoulders of NPSP.

Even though this cloud offers extremely useful tools for you to improve your workflow, Nonprofit organizations may also benefit simply by using the Salesforce Enterprise Edition. Although this option has some limitations such as not including the three clouds Nonprofit offers, you'll still have the main functionalities of the CRM plus you’ll be able to install the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) as an expansion. The NPSP expansion will shape Salesforce to cover the specific needs your type of institution has.

Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud main pillars
Image retrieved from here

What is NPSP?

So, you might be wondering what NPSP is and what makes it so special. You've probably come across this acronym while googling, but what value does it add to the system? Great question! NPSP is the core and foundation of Nonprofit Cloud. It enables the most important functionalities by adapting the original Salesforce data model to fit a Nonprofit business model. The original version of Salesforce is very commercially oriented, so a nonprofit would not find the normal Salesforce org without NPSP to be as ideal for everyday use.

NPSP adds many functionalities and enables you to work with donations, households, affiliates and much more.

Technically speaking, NPSP is a grouping of packages. You can see a package as an extension to your Salesforce org. It provides the following packages:

  • Recurring Donations: this feature allows you to check all the contributions a donor has pledged within a specific timeframe of your preference (this can be yearly, quarterly, monthly, or even custom).

The Recurring Donation package adds the "Recurring Donation" custom object to your Salesforce Org, so you can associate it to its respective donor, its arranged payment schedule, and the donation amount.

Each of the installments within a Recurring Donation are registered as separate Opportunities, showing their specific stage, amount, and close date.

Nonprofits' donation pledges in Salesforce org + NPSP
This image shows an example of how donation pledges are saved and displayed as Opportunities. In this case, there is an arranged monthly donation of $1,000 USD. This feature facilitates the tracking of every donor.
  • Relationships: the Relationships custom object connects contacts with each other and helps you identify what type of relation one person has to another. For example, different donors could be friends, family members, or possibly even co-workers. The relationship status can be specified too, showing if it is a current or former relation. For example, if two contacts are not co-workers anymore, their status will have changed and you’ll want to keep that in mind before sending them the same email.

Another interesting feature this package provides is that whenever you create a relationship within one contact, a two-way relationship is automatically generated. Thanks to this function, the link is also reflected in the other contact.

A very important feature of the Relationships Package is the “Relationship Viewer”, in which relationship links between contacts are visually displayed, highlighting their type of relationship and status in a simple graphic.

Relationships displayed in a Salesforce org + NPSP
This is an example of how helpful visualizing relationships can be. You may also create new Relationships here, and easily access all these contact records to edit them or to simply view their info.
  • Contacts and organizations: NPSP adds two record types for Accounts, which are “Organizations” and “Households”

Based on the type of Organization, they reference entities "that are not individual constituents or households".

This option makes clear whether one of your contacts donates as a member of a specific Organization, or if they participate as individuals or as members of their own household.

  • Households: the new Household custom object relies on the non-commercial nature of nonprofits, where the focus is set on people, the relationships they maintain with institutions and others, and the donations they make.

Household Accounts connect people with their own household unit and establish their relationship to one another.

Donations can be related to individual people or households.

  • Affiliations: the Affiliations package lets you connect contacts to organizations, unlike the Relationships package which connects contacts to one another.

It works as a junction object, meaning froma data structure viewpoint, it enables a many-to-many relationship, resulting in a model where many contacts can be linked to many Accounts (Organizations orHouseholds), allowing an Account to store all the contacts to which it’s related.

The Affiliations package enables you to establish a relationship between individual contacts and an organization’s account records. In addition, it gives you the tools to track a contact’s current and former relationship with organizations. Just like Relationships, this package is meant to give you detailed information on how your contacts could help you reach specific organizations, or what their involvement is/was, so you can choose the best candidate for an engagement plan.

An affiliation record is automatically created when a new Contact is linked to a non-household account, so you won’t miss anything.

NPSP is ideal for most nonprofits’ fundraising needs, while still offering a wide variety of settings than can be customized for the best experience.

You can customize details on every aforementioned package, including using your own wording for household names, disabling automatic processes, and making key changes on how the packages work.

Household name settings NPSP
These options ensure the possibility of shaping the org exactly as how your business model works.

Is NPSP worth it?

Accurate and in depth management of data is vital to an organization, and nonprofits are no exception. There is a huge increase in efficiency to your workflows when processes are digitalized and CRM systems like Salesforce are implemented. In addition, the benefits that custom solutions can provide are significantly more precise.

NPSP is a key tool that Salesforce makes available to users, shaping the CRM system based on the primary needs of nonprofit organizations. Whether you acquire the Nonprofit Cloud or use the Salesforce Enterprise Edition as your CRM, NPSP will help you by adding custom objects that fully cover the type of records you work with, naming all with the proper terminology.

All in all, we encourage you to try this comprehensive solution that is both user-friendly and faithfully reflects the structure of your organization. You can click here to access the official site and try a free trial. NPSP gives 10 free licenses for your org.


  1. https://www.sforgdocs.com/npspdocs/en-gb/product_docs/ngo/npsp/install_configure_npsp/configure_npsp_features/config_recurring_donations/topics/npsp-en-gb-configure-recurring-donations
  2. https://www.sforgdocs.com/npspdocs/en-gb/product_docs/ngo/npsp/install_configure_npsp/configure_npsp_features/relationships_settings/topics/npsp-en-gb-manage-relationships-settings
  3. https://www.sforgdocs.com/npspdocs/en-gb/product_docs/ngo/npsp/manage_constituents/manage_contacts/relationships/topics/npsp-en-gb-create-edit-and-view-relationships
  4. https://www.sforgdocs.com/npspdocs/en-gb/product_docs/ngo/npsp/manage_constituents/hh_org_accts/org_accts/topics/npsp-en-gb-add-and-manage-organization-accounts
  5. https://www.sforgdocs.com/npspdocs/en-gb/product_docs/ngo/npsp/manage_constituents/hh_org_accts/account_model/topics/npsp-en-gb-what-is-an-account-model
  6. https://www.sforgdocs.com/npspdocs/en-gb/product_docs/ngo/npsp/manage_constituents/hh_org_accts/affiliation_w_org/topics/npsp-en-gb-create-an-affiliation-with-an-organization