Are CRMs right for my emerging nonprofit?

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By: Suresh Kumar | 7.7.16

As a newcomer to the Salesforce world, I’ve learned firsthand how beneficial it can be for nonprofits. A CRM not only allows you to store everything in one place, it also simplifies your processes so that you can focus on the bigger tasks at hand. The ability to run mass email campaigns, plan events, manage grants and programs all from one place saves time, improves efficiency, and reduces the headache of trying to coordinate multiple systems.

What is

In simple terms, is the nonprofit focused arm of It was created with the intent of giving back to the community by offering free software and technology to nonprofits to support their missions. also has features specifically built for nonprofits, and comes with a built-in community of nonprofits that are using the platform.

What is Salesforce then? Many confuse the cloud service Salesforce with a fancy rolodex, but just as people underutilize scientific calculators by using them for solely for basic arithmetic, Salesforce can be underutilized as well. That being said, not everybody is ready to use a scientific calculator, and the same goes for Salesforce. It’s really important that you make sure your organization has the knowledge and capacity to make the most of Salesforce. You can take this nonprofit readiness survey to help you figure out whether it’s appropriate for you, or check out this whitepaper on planning a CRM budget to see if you have the necessary resources.

How nonprofits use Salesforce

In my short time working at Idealist Consulting, I’ve learned that there is no limit to how nonprofits can use Salesforce. A couple of diverse projects I’ve learned about and been impressed with include capturing the coordinates for tree placement and tracking retirement benefits. While Salesforce can be configured to do a wide range of functions, nonprofits generally tend to use it for grant, program, volunteer, event, and donor management.

There are also tons of different products that nonprofit users have exclusive or discounted access to. There’s the Nonprofit Starter Pack and NGO Connect: platforms that go on top of Salesforce to make it even more nonprofit focused, as well as tons of different apps and solutions that specifically cater to your needs.        

How to take the leap

Having worked at a nonprofit before taking my job with Idealist Consulting, I know that many nonprofits are running on spreadsheets, hard work, and free tech solutions. While a well-organized spreadsheet can cover quite a bit of ground, growing organizations eventually feel the pain of trying to cram large amounts of complex data into one congested spreadsheet, or trying to make a free solution fit their needs when it simply doesn’t.

So, how can a CRM help? Imagine that every aspect of your nonprofit is accounted for, managed, and reported on within one system in a way that ensures your data’s integrity and security. It’s possible! Every project we do is customized, since every nonprofit’s needs are different. There’s a discovery process where you tell our Solutions Analysts what you need your system to do, and they’ll walk you through what it will take to make it happen.

While my time at Idealist Consulting has been short, I’ve learned that Salesforce is helping nonprofits big and small create a big impact. If you’re considering Salesforce, are struggling with automation, or have goals you need technology to reach, we can connect you with the people and solutions to help.

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