Preloader Image

(User) adoption made easy: tips from NPO admins

By: Jacqueline Fassett

User adoption is vital but also tricky. Most nonprofit admins are responsible for not only managing the implementation and change but also for the training and user adoption within their organization. All this work can create a stressful admin.

At the Portland November NPSP user group, a local admin asked “What are some tips you have for user adoption?” to the group. The response was immediate and sparked a lengthy discussion.

We’d like to help stressed-out admins find some good solutions. So, grab a cup of tea, we’ve compiled some tips straight from other admins.


  1. Make it easier for users or give them more motivation. This two-option idea stemmed from talks at different Dreamforce 2016 sessions around user adoption. Our next two points expand on specific examples around this.
  2. Simplify the base fields users can see. By starting hesitant users off with just the necessary fields you’ll allow users to adjust at a slower pace than the overwhelmingly comprehensive full version. 

  3. Use hints or tips to get users to change processes. Send them weekly or daily in an email. As users begin to read them and try them out they’ll get more used to the systems. You can spotlight users who are quick to adopt the new platform and ask them to provide tips as well in the email, encouraging adoption.

  4. Use apps that allow users to stay in familiar workspaces or platforms. One example was using Cirrus Insight when working in Gmail. Cirrus Insight allows users to log leads and communication with individuals right from Gmail. It also displays account information in Gmail so the users can see the account data and get used to the format without having to log into NPSP in a separate tab.

  5. Find apps that can simplify processes. One suggestion is to use GridBuddy, an app that allows you to update data in one screen and touts a 300% increase in productivity. Use the AppExchange to find additional apps that can help solve productivity issues that might be holding back your users.

  6. Go one-on-one. If you have the time, a few admins found it helpful to walk significantly struggling users through processes they were struggling with to find solutions to help them become more efficient. One admin said by sitting down for 30 minutes with one user and showing the user how much time they could save the new user jumped right into the new processes. They just needed some in-person help.

  7. Find your Super Users within each team. If you don’t have time to show new users how to use the system best, do the next best thing. Finding users who have really taken to the system and ask for the help in encouraging other users. While you’ll want to help them set up boundaries so they don’t become the go-to person for solving problems, it will help to have a second person hearing what other users are struggling with and encouraging those users.

  8. Conduct user testing with the current staff. By identifying the top level items key staff wants and needs to use, you can significantly cut back on the push-back. 

  9. Make your own trailheads. A great, and maybe time-consuming idea, to help provide specific training. By using a webinar or online screen sharing platform you could record your own user level videos for easy how-to tutorials. This could be saved somewhere accessible in the case a struggling user needs a refresher.


Do you have user adoption advice that you’ve seen work? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

If you’re looking for help on user adoption, training, or support just reach out to us.


Let's Talk


Newsletter Earth

Subscribe to our newsletter

Where progressive organizations get inspired

Join thousands just like you to receive a monthly dose of user adoption tips, innovation, and industry trends.