Nonprofits have been using Salesforce since the platform launched. With Salesforce’s 1:1:1 model of philanthropy, nonprofits have been able to take advantage of the Salesforce platform at little to no upfront cost. However, given Salesforce’s original focus on B2B (business to business) sales, the platform hasn’t always been the best fit out of the box for nonprofits whose business processes more closely resemble a business to consumer model. Luckily there were community heros to the rescue who created the Nonprofit Template, or NonprofitForce as it was known – a series of customizations that helped make the Salesforce platform more relevant to nonprofits.
At the end of 2008, the Nonprofit Template was replaced by the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP), a collection of five managed packages that could be used individually or in combination to support business practices common to many nonprofits. Currently more than half of the Salesforce Foundation’s customers use the NPSP in some capacity to help customize Salesforce to meet their needs. Over the past six years the Foundation has come out with new releases for the different packages to address bugs and add new functionality.
Nonprofit Starter Pack 3.0
Over the past year, however the Foundation put together a talented team of developers who have been hard at work on the next version of the package, known by the working name of Cumulus or Nonprofit Starter Pack 3.0. Version 3.0 is really an extension of the former packages, not a new product. At this point any nonprofit provisioning a new instance of Salesforce with the NPSP installed is receiving version 3.0. There is an extended pilot of the new version for existing users, with an announcement about general availability expected very soon.
If you’re currently using the NPSP in your Salesforce instance you might be wondering whether you should upgrade when the new version becomes generally available. I would strongly recommend you do for several reasons. The new architecture moves the NPSP closer to the standard data model for Salesforce, which means that apps will more easily be able to work with it. Version 3.0 is relatively easy to use with everything in a single package you can install with a wizard to guide you through the process.
You’ll need to upgrade to the new version if you want to receive future releases with new and improved functionality and bug fixes automatically. NPSP 3.0 also has improved interfaces for maintaining and troubleshooting the application. The new release also has all of the code in a single package.
Another reason in favor of upgrading to the new release is that eventually the old version will no longer be supported. The Contacts & Organizations and Household packages will eventually be removed from the app exchange. Relationships, Affiliations, Recurring Donations and Batch Data Entry will remain as separate installs on the app exchange but there will be limited or no additional bug fixes to these packages. All future bug fixes will be made in version 3.0.
Salesforce1 for Nonprofits
You may have heard of the Salesforce1 for Nonprofits apps and are wondering how that is different from the NPSP 3.0. Salesforce1 for Nonprofits is a recommended combination of applications installed in Salesforce to optimize its usage by nonprofits, including roundCause and ExactTarget. NPSP 3.0 is free and is meant for organizations already using the NPSP, and not yet ready to invest in roundCause. It provides the basic functionality but may need to be extended with additional applications or customization. RoundCause is the Salesforce Foundation’s preferred market product, and is a comprehensive, end-to-end solution. Both roundCause and the NPSP are designed to work with Salesforce1.
Anyone currently using the NPSP should definitely consider upgrading to version 3.0 when it becomes generally available. The first step you should take is to install the new version in a sandbox and test out how it works with your customizations and apps you may have installed.
Those of us old timers in the nonprofit world who have been using Salesforce for years now can attest to how very far this package and the options available to nonprofits have come. For more information about the new functionality version 3.0 will bring, stay tuned for my colleague Francis Scudelleri’s blog post next week.