6 Things to Watch Out for During a Salesforce Integration

By: Partner | 4.22.21

By Ryan Ozimek

Ryan is the CEO and co-founder of PICnet, whose flagship product Soapbox Engage, makes online fundraising and engagement more effective and affordable, enabling organizations to raise more money and change the world.  Ryan lives in Washington DC, and is a graduate of UCLA’s graduate school of public policy. He’s also a fan of burritos, and is always looking for global taqueria tips.

Salesforce is a powerful CRM system that really can take your nonprofit (or business) to the next level of donor care, fundraising, marketing, and so much more. Maximizing your use of Salesforce can provide more valuable data, insights, and information to help you better understand and serve your donors or customers. 

However, integrating Salesforce into your existing systems can be quite an undertaking. It can be a complicated process to move your existing data to Salesforce, ensure everything is set up for your success, and equip the entire team to get the most out of all the features and data available. 

We know most nonprofits don't have time to get into the weeds with all the nitty-gritty details of Salesforce integration, and we're big fans of avoiding as many stress-induced grey hairs as possible. Once Salesforce is correctly implemented into your nonprofit or business, you can enjoy a 360-degree "view" of your donors or customers and gather data that you can actually use. With this in mind, we've narrowed it down to the top six things you and your team should watch out for and do during a Salesforce integration. 

Here are your Salesforce integration best practices.

1) Know why you're integrating Salesforce

If you're transitioning from your current CRM system to Salesforce, you've probably got a specific problem or pain-point that you're trying to solve in the hopes of streamlining processes or saving time and money. 

Salesforce can help nonprofits and businesses accomplish all that--and more. Still, it's helpful to be very clear from the start about the problems and pain points you're working to eliminate. 

Consider taking the time to sit down with your team to make a comprehensive list of your goals. This will make it easier for you to measure the Salesforce integration's effectiveness and ensure you eliminate each problem. 

2) Nonprofits should involve their boards in the Salesforce integration process

A Salesforce integration best practice that often goes overlooked by nonprofits is getting their board involved in the decision process. This is especially critical if board members have access or a role in your nonprofit's data management. Resistance to change, price, process, or other factors can really derail the Salesforce integration process. 

Getting everyone on board early and ensuring board-level buy-in lays a strong foundation of cooperation from start to finish. Additionally, when the leaders are excited and working together, the rest of the organization typically follows suit, leading to much easier adoption and integration overall.

3) Choose the Salesforce solution that meets your nonprofit's needs

There are many Salesforce options and packages on the market--practically one for every budget and need! It's not always an easy task to decide exactly what your nonprofit or business needs. 

Nonprofits and charitable organizations should seriously consider the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP). It was designed to harness the power of Salesforce with the unique needs of nonprofits in mind. 

The NPSP will empower your teams to connect and collaborate more effectively and merge your marketing, fundraising, donor care, and all your other activities. It will help you capture all your financial data (one-time donations, recurring gifts, etc.) in one location for easier donor care and more strategic fundraising. 

Another unique benefit of the Salesforce NPSP is the ability to manage and track different types of programs and services you host. 

The Salesforce team knows that the nonprofit world is full of "accidental techies" who don't have the time to learn complicated software and functions. You need "plug and play" convenience and speed. That's why they created the Salesforce Nonprofit Tutorials to help development professionals and nonprofits confidently get the most out of their Salesforce tools and hit the ground running after the Salesforce integration. 

Additionally, there are many training options for nonprofits using Salesforce. The Trailhead training for Salesforce NPSP offers ample technical support and easy "how-to" tutorials. The Power of Us Hub is an online community for Salesforce Nonprofit users, consultants, and employees. 

4) Take the time to clean up your data before a Salesforce integration

One great thing about Salesforce is you can move your existing data into your new CRM system. There's no need to start from scratch, especially when it comes to donor or customer records!

Before even beginning the Salesforce data integration, set aside time to clean up your existing data, eliminate duplicate contacts, and delete any old, useless information. 

It's also an excellent time to make sure each donor or customer is under the same name or label in each of your systems. It's easy to fall into the habit of entering a donor by their last name in one system and by a donor ID in another system, and so on. 

Now is the time to choose a consistent method of labeling or identifying your donors (or accounts) across all your platforms and systems before a full Salesforce integration. This will ensure you begin your Salesforce era clean and organized. 

5) Choose Salesforce integration tools to boost efficiency

One of the best ways to improve your nonprofit fundraising team's overall efficiency and effectiveness is to choose the right Salesforce integration tools. More than 300 apps seamlessly integrate with Salesforce, but not all are designed with the nonprofit in mind. 

Soapbox Engage apps are integration tools that will surely improve your overall fundraising and productivity because they're designed specifically for nonprofits and charities that use the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack. 

For example, the Soapbox Engage Donations app allows you to create custom online donation pages for each of your campaigns. The app will associate each donation with the correct campaign and match payments with existing contacts or create a new one in Salesforce.

But the perks aren't limited to online donation pages. Host events and manage the registration and ticket sales process with ease. Open an online store and sell your wares to fund your cause and so much more. 

The point is, you'll be able to take care of all your fundraising, marketing, communication, and donor care activities in one place. All the data will sync directly with Salesforce, eliminating painful data entry and paper-pushing experiences.

6) Be aware of different data models

If you use an accounting app (like QuickBooks or Intacct), one thing to be aware of is the difference in the data model (think: "structure of our data"), especially if you'd like data to "flow" both from Salesforce to your accounting software and vise versa. 

With Salesforce, a donor (or customer) profile can have several contacts nestled inside one account. On the other hand, most accounting software only allows one contact per profile or account. While this Salesforce data feature can be convenient when organizing your data, it means you'll need to be mindful of the contact you're choosing when sending data from Salesforce to your accounting apps.

We're using the example of accounting software here, but this is something to be mindful of if you're planning to integrate other apps or software with Salesforce, too. 

The process of choosing and integrating Salesforce for your nonprofit or business can feel overwhelming or complicated. But, when done correctly, it will undoubtedly lead to greater productivity, organization, and overall satisfaction among your staff. And the great news is that Idealist Consulting and Soapbox Engage are experts at helping nonprofits integrate Salesforce and the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack effectively.

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