By Lara Hoke

Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/dreamforce

It is hard to believe that we are less than a month a way from Dreamforce, also known as that time of year when downtown San Francisco is temporarily overtaken by thousands of people sporting blue lanyards and wearing identical backpacks.

You may be asking yourself, “But why should my nonprofit attend? Isn’t it just another tech conference?” To answer this question I’ve put together the following 10 reasons your nonprofit should attend Dreamforce ’14.

1. INSPIRATION

Learn how other nonprofits are using the Salesforce platform to innovate, reach new audiences, increase their impact, and meet their missions. I can guarantee that you will leave Dreamforce full of ideas on how you could apply similar tactics in your organization.

Three sessions I recommend for inspiration are:

Become a Connected Nonprofit
Chris Thomas of the Sierra Club and Welles Hatch of City Year, Inc. will share how their organizations leveraged cloud, social, and mobile technologies to connect their staff, supporters, partners, and programs to deliver more impact.

The Modern Museum
Diana Pan of the Museum of Modern Art and Karin Heck of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco will discuss their museums’ journeys to attaining the much sought-after 360-degree view of their museums, patrons, and supporters.

Product Roadmap: Nonprofit Starter Pack
Learn more about the latest release of the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP) version 3.0, the roadmap for the NPSP, and how you can help shape and contribute to its future!

2. EXCITE YOUR LEADERSHIP

Are you having a hard time convincing your executive director or board chair to join the Salesforce bandwagon? Dreamforce is a great opportunity to open your leadership’s eyes to the potential of the Salesforce platform. From listening to the keynotes to attending the over 30 nonprofit-specific sessions and seeing firsthand how other nonprofits have increased their impact using the cloud, we promise the excitement will be contagious!

For your leadership, we recommend attending the keynote Democratizing Philanthropy: Technology, Innovation and Giving. Social entrepreneur, educator and pioneer of strategic philanthropy, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen and Salesforce.com Foundation President Suzanne DiBianca will discuss the transformation and democratization of philanthropy and tactics for creating measurable social good.

3. TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION

Last week Carolyn Reuman discussed the role and the value of having a Salesforce administrator in a nonprofit. If you love using Salesforce and want to expand your knowledge and grow your skills, consider signing up for a one or two day training course. You can even take the Salesforce.com Certified Administrator exam at Dreamforce. These trainings and certifications are offered, in some cases, at half the price you’ll find them for elsewhere during the rest of the year.

4. HANDS-ON TRAINING SESSIONS

Getting your hands dirty is often the best way to learn. Dreamforce offers dozens of hands-on training sessions that will give you the opportunity to do just that.

For nonprofit users, I recommend the following sessions:

Hands-on Training: Customize Salesforce using Custom Fields and Page Layouts
Learn how to customize your Salesforce application to suit your organization’s needs by creating custom fields, page layouts, and record types.

Hands-on Training: Extend and Customize the Nonprofit Starter Pack
Extend and customize the Nonprofit Starter Pack by learning how to use validation rules and workflows to improve data quality, integrate with third-party applications, and automate common tasks.

5. NETWORKING

Dreamforce is nothing if not a great opportunity to meet and network with your peers. Informal sector and topic specific meet-ups are scheduled throughout the conference. Share your Salesforce experience, best practices, and favorite apps with others who use Salesforce just like you do.

6. KEYNOTES

Dreamforce keynotes are known for their star power and this year is no exception. This year’s keynotes include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, Neil Young, Ariana Huffington, and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.

7. THE CLOUD EXPO

Are you looking for a user-friendly tool to manage your email marketing campaigns? Perhaps your organization is considering extending its online fundraising? The Cloud Expo is your opportunity to learn about products and solutions that integrate with and extend the Salesforce platform. At this year’s Cloud Expo you will have the opportunity to meet more than 350 cloud computing companies and learn about more than 1,000 products and solutions. (Don’t miss the Foundation Zone, which will be home to all-things nonprofit including the Cloud for Good booth and our famous cloud hats).

8. GALA AND UCSF BENEFIT

This year’s Dreamforce Gala & UCSF Benefit features none other than Bruno Mars. You may have seen him perform last spring at the Super Bowl? Additional performers include CAKE and Dreamforce regular will.i.am.

9. EXERCISE

Cloud for Good employees estimate that they walked between 15,000 and 20,000 steps a day during last year’s Dreamforce. Make sure to pack comfortable shoes!

10. MEET THE CLOUD FOR GOOD TEAM

If the above reasons are not enough to convince you to go to Dreamforce, than surely the opportunity to meet your favorite Cloud for Good consultant will push you over the edge. Make sure to stop by the Foundation Zone in the Marriott Marquis Hotel and say hello or schedule a time to meet with us by completing this form.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN OCTOBER!

Dreamforce ‘14 is October 13-16 with several related events bookending the conference. It is not too late to register and receive the discounted nonprofit rate.

Lara Hoke

Lara Hoke

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