Upgrading to the NPSP 3.0

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By: Bethany Williams | 12.17.15

This post is based on an interview with Jessica Pasley, a long-time consultant with Idealist Consulting who has an extensive background working with nonprofits on the Salesforce platform. We caught up with Jessica to pick her brain about a topic that often comes up in our conversations with nonprofits using a dated version of the Nonprofit Starter Pack: Upgrading to NPSP 3.0.

Q: Why would an organization want to upgrade to NPSP 3.0?

A: One of the biggest motivators for upgrading to NPSP 3.0 is that it offers an account model called the “Household Account Model,” which is closer to the standard Salesforce account model. The Household Account model allows organizations to apply a similar data structure to accounts regardless of whether they’re organizations or households, and seamlessly incorporates the contacts and opportunities (donations) associated with the account.

Since no separate Household object is necessary, reporting is simplified and flexible, and users have increased control and access to dynamic relationship tracking with donors and constituents.

Note: more information on account models can be found here. Also check out our case study with Idaho Conservation League for a description of how they cleaned up their data and switched to the household account model, including examples of what this means for donation reporting.

Other benefits to upgrading to NPSP 3.0 include:

  • Built-in basic grant tracking functionality that was not present in previous versions

  • Multiple and seasonal addresses can be added to households and organizations,  a feature that can be enabled or disabled at user discretion

  • Settings and configuration adjustments are much more user-friendly through a centralized settings tab, which helps increase  user adoption!

  • Enhanced fund distribution through being able to allocate donations into General Accounting Units (GAUs) toward specific funds

  • Being on the most recent version grants access to automatic upgrades and bug fixes

Q: Do organizations have to convert their account model to the Household Account Model in order to upgrade?

A: No, you can upgrade to NPSP 3.0 and keep previous account models in place. We’d only recommend staying on a previous model if your organization was using the individual account model and did not utilize a separate household object; if the relationships being tracked were only between you and your donors. This is pretty rare, and we’ve found that about 90% of the time, there are clear and measurable benefits for an organization to convert to the Household Account model when they upgrade to NPSP 3.0.

Q: How long does an upgrade take, and how much does it cost?

A: This will depend on the client, the database configuration, and data health. Upgrading to NPSP 3.0 with an account conversion is typically estimated around 30 hours, with 15 hours as the minimum. Hours will vary based on what is customized in their system (objects, workflows, formula fields, etc.). We typically require an assessment of the database in order to confirm estimated hours.

Q: Is hiring a consulting partner absolutely necessary?

A: In most cases, it is recommended. There are resources available through Salesforce help and the Power of Us Hub if a nonprofit  would like to do the upgrade and account conversion themselves. However, this is only a viable option ONLY if your organization has an experienced and knowledgeable database administrator who has a very high comfort level with the tools necessary to complete this process - such as the data loader, conversion utility tool, data cleanup, etc. Your internal admin must also have a thorough understanding of the relational nature of data within Salesforce. Changes made with the conversion utility are irreversible, so it’s best to do it right the first time. Generally, a consulting partner will be able to provide a level of expertise that organizations don’t have internally to ensure that the conversion goes smoothly and also provides recommendations for best practices in maintaining the upgrade.

Q: Should clients make any data preparations before upgrading?

A: There are things organizations can do to help with the process, especially if you plan on working with a consulting partner. We recommend doing some data mapping to understand how household information is structured within your database: you could review fields being tracked in the household or contact object to make sure they are represented on the account in the future, and you could take a look at formula fields, objects, and workflows, and lay them out in a listview to present to the consulting firm. This will also help ease the transition for everyone involved. See our case study with Idaho Conservation League for some examples of hygiene reports we created to assist with data preparation.

Q: Anything else to keep in mind about NPSP upgrades?

A: Yes! Upgrading and converting data to a new account model is a great opportunity for clients to do some data cleanup and “spring cleaning” of their system. It can act as a fresh start for those whose data has gone down a messy path.

Idealist Consulting is well-versed in the upgrading and account conversion process, and are happy to talk with you about bringing your organization onto NPSP 3.0. For more information, check out our blog post on some of the greatest resources for researching the Nonprofit Starter Pack 3.0.

Go to the NPSP 3.0 Resource blog

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