How to get started with Salesforce

Are you a charity CEO, board member or fundraiser?

You have probably heard about Salesforce, but what exactly is it?

Have you been tasked with choosing a new database? Do you want to compare Salesforce to other options? Have you just joined an organisation where Salesforce is already being used?

Are you keen to understand how much time and money it will take to set up Salesforce and you properly?

There are many excellent partners and consultants out there and Salesforce do recommend working with an implementation partner. You will find a list of partners on the Salesforce App Exchange. Here is our listing.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about using Salesforce and my answers and other recommendations. 


Why Salesforce?

Lots of charities are using Salesforce these days and you might be asking yourself why? Australian for-purpose organisations can apply for’s “Power of Us” program. This is a grant of 10 free subscriptions or user licences plus significant discounts on additional subscriptions, products, and services. 

This is a free-forever gift. Each licence is worth about $2500 a year in the for-profit world - so just from the get go Salesforce are giving you $25,000 worth of free use of their Enterprise grade software a year. Yes you heard that correctly. You get to use the same product as Telstra and NAB. And the discounts on further licences are around 75% for charities. 


What does NPSP mean?

The Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) is a pre-installed package that adds fundraising and program management functionality to Salesforce. Its sits on top of the Sales Cloud, and uses the language that we are familiar with as people who fundraise and manage relationships with various stakeholders.


Where do I start?

Most people are very surprised when I tell them that I have no IT background at all but that I was the one to lead the use of Salesforce at St Kilda Mums in my time there as CEO.

This is how I did it. 

Sign up for Trailhead - the free, fun and easy way to learn Salesforce. You can set up a profile for yourself. Then you can focus in on the training that is specific to our sector by going to Modules then Products and choose Non Profit Cloud.

Non Profit Cloud Modules

There are dozens of modules and several projects (with more being added all the time). Do them all and you will learn just about everything you need to know to get the most out of your licences.


How do I find volunteers?

Most charities have a volunteer program and there are many certified Salesforce Administrators looking for volunteer projects. They can help you import legacy data, customise your Salesforce instance to suit your particular needs, and this will help you get going much faster.

But you can't do this without having first done some Trailhead. Without knowing what Salesforce can do, you won't be able to direct your volunteers.

Executive support is the number one reason why projects succeed (or fail).

Advertise for a Volunteer Salesforce Administrator on LinkedIn. I did this once in 2013. And since them St Kilda Mums had a steady stream of smart and capable volunteers.


What should I do first?

Salesforce NPSP (Non Profit Success Pack) is ideal for fundraising, volunteer management and impact measurement. But you know what your particular pain points are - so focus on those. and prioritise your needs.

Some ideas include replacing paper forms with web-to-case or web-to-lead forms so that all that data flows directly into Salesforce. This is a good place to start because if you are copying contact information about donors or volunteers from emails into a spreadsheet you need to stop doing that yesterday.

Integrate your mass email tool, so that your newsletter lists are always up to date (no more csv file uploads into Mailchimp).

Create a beautiful donation landing page on Raisely and use a service like MoveData to get the data directly into Salesforce. Or just get Raisely up and running now. You can worry about integrating later but if are using an outdated tool to raise money online and manipulating donor data in spreadsheets you need to automate this process not only to free up hours in your week but also to keep personal data more secure.

It's very easy to make mistakes and you never have a complete picture of your supporter. Set up a Slack alert so that when someone makes a gift over a certain amount and you can pick up the phone to call and say thank you right away. Do you know the very second you receive a major gift from one of your supporters?

Focus on your supporter's experience, ensure your website is mobile optimised and your donation pages are not sticky. I recommend Shopify if you are stuck with a website CMS that is limiting you. I wrote a blog post about setting up a new website in a day on my mobile phone you might like to read. 


How do I find others like me?

Find a local user group - know as a Trailblazer Community Group - and attend the regular meetings. The meetings are all virtual now so you can attend any in your time zone. People are very friendly and helpful, and will share their ideas freely. 

I really love the Wellington User Group, the Melbourne Non Profit User Group and the Melbourne Salesforce User Group

Salesforce events are another great place to meet like minded people. The annual World Tour (usually in March in Australia) has a whole stream of for-purpose content.


Is there good documentation?

This link takes you through to the critical documentation about how to set up the NPSP and get the most out of it. It is the best place to get answers so save it in your browser.

The Power of Us Hub is an online community for (of for-purpose) customers, certified partners and staff. The Hub is a place for you to get answers, build your Salesforce skills, share your expertise & connect with others in the nonprofit, higher ed & K-12 sectors who are using Salesforce.


Okay, I am sold, how do I get started?

Go to the website and sign up for the free trial today. You have nothing to lose. You have 4 weeks to play with your trial and a Salesforce Account Executive will be in touch with you (normally within 24 hours) to find out more about you and your needs.

This person will be a very important part of your success with Salesforce. They will be able to offer advice, and introduce you to Implementation partners (like us!) who can help you fast-track success.

The right partner can answer all your questions. It pays to find a local partner - does not have to be in the same city or even state but it helps if they are Australian. Find one who specialises in the for-purpose sector so they will be able to introduce you to other organisations doing similar things right around Australia. 


What about social media? 

I recommend you get yourself a Twitter handle. There is a ton of great content shared on Twitter and LinkedIn (I am going to presume you are already there...). There is a fantastic Salesforce Admins Podcast - with fresh content each week so you can get the most out of your commute.  


More Questions?

I am always happy to answer questions so please get in touch using the contact form on this website. You might even like to engage me as your consultant. Fee schedule available on request. 

PS. I will keep updating this page with new FAQs as they arise. Last Updated 2 July 2023

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