Application integration for nonprofit success

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By: Bethany Williams | 11.17.15

Integration is the process that lets applications like MailChimp and Eventbrite communicate with each other and with Salesforce. These connections are the key to customizing your database for your needs, and can really make Salesforce sing, but sometimes it isn’t as smooth of a process as you’d hope. Applications that don’t have native integration with Salesforce might have unexpected hiccoughs, and require a coding workaround or business process that requires additional steps. This isn’t the end of the world, and many organizations have made peace with some of the less intrusive snags, but bigger obstacles can deter you from using your app altogether. Don’t worry, you have options for getting the most out of your apps!

Here are the most common ways to integrate applications:

  1. Manually shuttle data back and forth from one system to the next. This means you are exporting a CSV spreadsheet file from one application and uploading into another. This will cost you the least, but also provides the least amount of functionality (also consider the cost of your staff’s time spent on manual uploads). This is a common place to start, but after a few months the frustration often overshadows the low cost.

  1. Employ a connective solution such as Workato, Cazoomi, or Zapier. There is generally some costs associated with these solutions, but they have easy to understand plug-and-play installation, and quickly improve your functionality. They link applications without fully integrating them, and often require continued tweaking and lite oversight. This is a great option if you have some money and internal time to spend on upkeep and maintenance. The Workato Integrated Nonprofit Suite (WINS) has over twenty recipes geared towards helping nonprofits lessen their workload, whether you only need to integrate one process (such as Salesforce to Quickbooks) or automate an entire workflow.

  1. Integrate the app fully with Salesforce. This will cost you the most, but also provides the best functionality and syncing between systems. Generally, you’ll need a consulting partner to set this up: check out Idealist Consulting’s recent post on How to Sync your Website and Database for more information on this.

So what kind of applications are we talking about, anyway? Here are some common nonprofit and small business examples.  

Event Management
Putting together an event is a tremendous amount of work, and entering all the leads you get from your fundraiser, gala, or workshop into your CRM is an invaluable but complex step.

Option One: Attendees can register for your event using a tool like Eventbrite, and you manually can add them to a Salesforce campaign after the fact. The downside to this approach is that you’ll lose the initial data gathered through the invite process and what they submit through Eventbrite if you are not careful about organizing the spreadsheet upload to map every field into Salesforce.

Option Two: Integration tools like Workato link Eventbrite to Salesforce. When you setup a new event in Eventbrite you can use this recipe to automatically add the attendee in Salesforce when they sign up for the event on Eventbrite. Instead of scrambling after the event to manually upload the list of attendees into Salesforce, Workato’s integration will update automatically. The recipe will keep an eye out for attendees who already have a profile in Salesforce, thus avoiding duplicates.

Option Three: Get the full Eventbrite sync so you can determine when, who, and how leads are entered into Salesforce. You can decide if your list is imported as a lead or contact, what campaign they’re associated with, and if you’d like to create an opportunity to track their ticket purchase.

*Note: this tool has very mixed reviews on the AppExchange so make sure you discuss the best option for your organization with your consultant

Pro tip: Consider how your nonprofit might call on other programs throughout this process. When a person buys a ticket on Eventbrite, maybe you’d like them to be automatically added to a MailChimp list.

Back Office Solutions
Keeping your finances in order is incredibly important. Apps like QuickBooks can make this easier, but unless it’s fully integrated, it doesn’t eliminate the manual data entry required to move your donation information to and from Salesforce.

For nonprofits trying to achieve big things on little manpower, a solution like Workato is a low maintenance way to ensure the correct data makes it from your CRM to your accounting division. It also grants a comprehensive view of your organization's funds. This recipe sends all donations with payments directly to Quickbooks. For every new opportunity in Salesforce, Workato will create a new invoice in QuickBooks and go through the scheduled payment lines and add them as line items to the invoice.

*Note that integrating QuickBooks is not for every organization: read more on why this is such a complex issue here.

The applications and level of integration you end up with all depend on your budget and desired functionality. There are many connective tools available to you, and we’re here to talk if you’re wondering which is the right one for you.

Let’s Talk





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