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Salesforce Trends from Nonprofit Dreamin’

By: Christopher Bayerle

One of the best things about the nonprofit Salesforce community is how willing folks are to share and support one another. It’s why the Power of Us Hub is so successful. It’s why nonprofit Salesforce user groups are so powerful. And it’s why the virtual community event Nonprofit Dreamin’ was such a success in January.

I volunteered with the content planning and logistics committees for Nonprofit Dreamin’ and was so impressed with the incredible proposals people submitted for the conference. We received many presentation proposals from people offering up incredible insight and knowledge that could be immediately useful to nonprofit Salesforce administrators and developers.

That incredible content attracted 1300 attendees over two days! Now, all that content is available for viewing on YouTube through the Nonprofit Dreamin’ website.

And after watching the presentations at the event, I noticed several trends emerge. I think these trends reflect what’s happening at the intersection of the nonprofit sector and the Salesforce ecosystem, and they say a lot about what those of us working on the platform should expect in the coming year.


It’s Not Just About NPSP

Nonprofit use of Salesforce has expanded past NPSP for fundraising, and that trend only seems to be accelerating.

A lot of nonprofits are leveraging additional Salesforce programs and packages to extend their use of the platform. It seems like many organizations are either already using or considering Experience Cloud for building online communities. I’ve also noticed increased interest in and adoption of the Outbound Funds module for grant management, Salesforce’s new Program Management Module, and even Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (powered by Pardot).

Nonprofits want to consolidate their data on one platform to make managing and reporting easier. They want to take advantage of the power of Salesforce in areas outside of fundraising and help staff avoid too much context switching. 

Adoption of these platforms reflect an increased need to manage programs remotely, digitally, and at a heightened level of efficacy.

Digital Engagement Is Critical

Nonprofits are investing in more sophisticated marketing, particularly digital marketing and marketing automation.

Nonprofits need advanced ways to sort and segment their donors with laser targeting. There’s a lot of competition for donor dollars, and sending out a single email to your entire donor database just won’t cut it anymore. You need to know where each donor is coming from and what they’re interested in.

On top of that, nonprofit marketers are looking for ways to digitally engage folks beyond email. They’re looking at SMS, text message surveys, web forms connected to Salesforce, and webinar integration with Salesforce. 

Part of this trend reflects the pandemic: it’s not as easy to get volunteers to sit in an office and stuff envelopes anymore. But part of this trend was already accelerating before the pandemic. Nonprofit organizations were increasingly investing in digital marketing to better target and engage donors through their preferred channels.


Nonprofit Administration Is Getting Advanced

As nonprofits look to do more with the Salesforce platform, administrators are digging into more complex Salesforce topics. Some of the most popular sessions at Nonprofit Dreamin’ dealt with Flows, custom metadata types, and other types of declarative development

That means some of the least entry-level sessions were the most popular. In fact, this reflects a trend we see on the Idealist Consulting blog: our consultant David Cheng’s blog post about using Apex for deduplication continues to be one of our most popular posts.

Part of this trend reflects the development of the tools and the ability to do more declaratively on the platform. Process Builder makes it easy to automate on the platform, and Salesforce has done a lot to make Flow more accessible and powerful than ever.

But the other part of this trend reflects the imperative to do more with the platform — to further augment, integrate, and automate.


Solo Admins Want to Skill Up

More than 300 people attended the Nonprofit Dreamin’ session aimed at providing solutions for solo admins. It was one of the most popular sessions at the event. Folks are hungry for information about using Salesforce to meet their goals and accommodate their missions. They’re particularly looking for information about working with NPSP. 

The folks tasked with administering Salesforce at many nonprofit organizations often wear many hats and often also work in development or program management. As organizations leverage Salesforce for more and expand their usage of the platform as I mentioned above, solo admins are looking to invest more in deeply learning the platform and specializing their role. I expect we’ll see a host of newly certified administrators in the nonprofit community, as well as a host of folks with new Nonprofit Cloud, Experience Cloud, and Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (formerly Pardot) certifications.

This learning provides an opportunity to further support one another and share our knowledge through the Power of Us Hub, nonprofit user groups, and at Nonprofit Dreamin’ again next year!


It’s All About Community

As we stated above, nonprofit Salesforce admins and developers do a lot to support one another. That’s seen in the number of attendees at Nonprofit Dreamin’, the help one finds in the Power of Us Hub, and the support provided at nonprofit user groups.

The Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) itself is a testament to community involvement. NPSP is a community-developed package, and over 200 volunteers showed up to the last virtual NPSP sprint that took place in February. Volunteers develop many of the improvements that come to NPSP through these community sprints.

If you’ve been supported by the Salesforce community, it’s never too late to give back. Join a sprint. Submit a presentation to Nonprofit Dreamin’ next year. Chat and collaborate with your peers in the Power of Us Hub. And join a user group.

And even if you do all that, it’s still okay to need help sometimes. And that’s where we come in! If you’re like many nonprofits and you’re expanding your use of Salesforce or just don’t have time to get it all done, maybe it’s time we chat.

Let’s Talk


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