Co-Written by Tal Frankfurt and Kestryl Lowrey
Over the last couple of years, we have seen Salesforce make tremendous investments into fundraising technologies. New, forward-thinking products, such as Elevate with its built-in Giving Pages and Payment Services, or the Accounting Subledger with its connective ability to merge finance and fundraising through its built-in address verification, have made the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) the industry-leading fundraising solution. NPSP’s out-of-the-box functionality, as opposed to a reliance on customizations and integrations, ensures greater configurability and accessibility when compared to other commonly used fundraising solutions.
With innovation at its core, Salesforce is continuously adding new functionality to the platform, too. We’re seeing incredible value generated from Artificial Intelligence that can help higher education institutions predict summer melts or which alumni are most likely to become recurring donors, for example. When you consider the sheer amount of innovation stemming from Salesforce and NPSP, it’s clear that the solutions are simply unparalleled.
Enterprise organizations have taken notice, and many of them have adopted NPSP or are in the process of implementing the solution themselves. Cloud for Good provides services for many enterprise clients who both efficiently and effectively process more than $100M in annual gifts using NPSP. Our higher education and nonprofit clients are leveraging NPSP to handle everything from major and/or planned giving to grant requests, as well as the intake of thousands of gifts every single week via mail and the processing of tens of millions of recurring online donations.
Using Salesforces Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), Duke Health Development and Alumni Affairs were both able to alleviate bottlenecks, improve collaboration, and ultimately raise more funds to support breakthroughs in lifesaving care.
When it comes time for your higher education institution to consider the next step on your advancement roadmap, consider that NPSP comes equipped with out-of-the-box functionality that can help you:
- Manage students, alumni, and other constituents
- Manage households and accounts (i.e. foundations or corporations)
- Manage complex address information
- Define giving levels and engagement plans
- Track relationships between individuals and organizations
- Intuitively create and track outreach campaigns
- Process gifts and payments
- Manage grants, in-kind gifts, matching gifts, and tributes
- Manage designations and giving allocations
- Manage automated and manual hard/soft credits
- Batch import with intelligent tools
- Bridge the gap between finance and fundraising with Accounting Subledger
Taking a strategic approach to transforming their technology, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary partnered with Cloud for Good in their migration from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack, leading to greater efficiency and effectiveness for the institution’s fundraising, marketing, and campaigns.
While NPSP was historically associated with the nonprofit sector, the versatility and customizability of the solution can also support large-scale fundraising for higher education institutions. Many of the current options available for advancement in the Salesforce ecosystem do not offer a complete solution that brings together the best education data model with the best fundraising data model. This disconnect can limit your ability to achieve a connected campus or organization, as well as stunt your ability to grow on the Salesforce platform.
NPSP is the data architecture comprising Nonprofit Cloud which is supported by a large development team at Salesforce. While nonprofit is in the name, higher education can also benefit from this Cloud. NPSP can help you: approach alumni and other constituents more strategically by giving you a greater capacity to understand the relationships and interactions they’ve had with your campus and fellow supporters; coordinate and streamline multiple fundraising teams, define solicitation strategies, and unite multidimensional relationships across development officers or programs; deliver the right message and the right time through the right channel(s) with integrated multichannel techniques and tools; empower on-the-go fundraisers to access or update information directly on their smartphones.
The Cloud for Good Approach: NPSP + EDA
Institutions do not need to be beholden to one solution or the other; Cloud for Good has developed an approach designed to leverage both solutions together through integration. There is a great opportunity for advancement in a multi-org strategy through both the student focus of EDA and the fundraising focus of NPSP. Developing an integrated, multi-org solution can support tracking the full student lifecycle, from prospective student to successful alumni, and provide each member of your team with the data and insights they need.
Salesforce supports a variety of integration strategies, including REST and SOAP APIs, event-driven architectures, and external objects via Salesforce Connect. These flexible options mean that there are multiple paths for integrating data between your student (EDA) and fundraising (NPSP) orgs. In many cases, it makes sense for data to move in a linear progression—starting in the EDA Salesforce org to track a student from application through admission and their completion of a degree. At that point, an integration pushes the newly graduated alumni to the NPSP Salesforce org, where they can be cultivated as a donor by the advancement team. Salesforce Connect can support the visibility of Course Connection and Program Enrollment data (stored in EDA) without needing to replicate that data in NPSP.
Multi-org strategies on Salesforce bring additional benefits for your solution in terms of data security and sharing. Sometimes, there are pieces of student data that should not be available to gift officers or conflicting requirements across business units about who should be able to modify which records. Separating these distinct teams into separate Salesforce orgs can simplify data security and management, particularly if paired with a campus-wide master data management strategy. Additionally, a multi-org approach can reduce complexity in each org because there is less risk of overlapping or conflicting automation, validation, or other customization.
A multi-org, EDA, and NPSP solution supports institutions in having the right data, in the right place, at the right time for the right user. While it can be tempting to think that having everything in a single Salesforce org is always simpler, the truth is that sometimes the more streamlined, efficient, and effective solution is to implement a multi-org strategy. This ensures you can take advantage of the strengths of both Salesforce.org foundational packages: EDA and the NPSP.
What About ISV Packages?
ISV solutions are managed packages that were developed atop Salesforce to address specific problems pertaining to fundraising or advancement. Managed packages typically feature locked components that might restrict end-users from accessing code and modifying the solution to better accommodate business processes and workflows.
Salesforce also offers managed packages that our customers know and love in both the education and nonprofit spaces. Some examples of these packages include the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), the Education Data Architecture (EDA), and Advisor Link (AL). These packages, while managed, are still coordinated according to the Salesforce roadmap, and require large investments in development and support, including robust use of Trailhead modules.
When evaluating whether your institution should lean towards an ISV or a Platform solution with NPSP, keep the following considerations in mind:
1. Implementation Timeline
Our team of consultants has experience implementing NPSP for both advancement and Enterprise fundraising. From our experience, the average timeline for implementation could be between 4 – 8 months depending on your complexity and legacy systems (migrating from Raiser’s Edge is different than BBCRM or Banner Advancement).
If you are considering a product approach with one of the advancement solutions developed by ISVs, that timeline should be dramatically reduced. If this is not the case, you should investigate if that package is a product or a group of assets that the ISV developed and still require substantial customization in order to go live. If that is the case, what is the value in a managed package?
2. What is the longitude of the ISV solution and partner?
When available, choosing native Salesforce functionality or packages offered by Salesforce.org (i.e., EDA, NPSP, AL, etc.) makes the most sense. Salesforce has the power and resources to continue the R&D investment in these tools. If Salesforce does not address your needs out of the box, the AppExchange is a great avenue to explore additional resources. Keep in mind that historically, when Salesforce continued the investment in a native functionality, ISVs with similar solutions didn’t continue to support their application for a long time. Think NGO Connect from a nonprofit perspective, or Advancement Connect in higher education. Working with an implementation partner who has ‘been there, done that’ could come in handy in this type of situation.
The Cloud for Good team, for example, has been working with HED for over a decade and possesses deep advancement experience. We bring the experience of thousands of migrations (including many from Blackbaud and Banner Advancement) and the problem-solving creativity necessary to help you find the right solution for your organization’s specific business needs.
3. Are you seeking to increase or decrease the number of vendors included in your implementation?
Salesforce is an incredibly powerful platform, capable of creating value for your institution beyond just advancement. When you think about this growth, it is important that you choose solutions and partners that can help you adopt the new technology and then expand even further. ISV packages are not often implemented by the organization that developed them, for good reasons. When you think about the implementation of new technology, you also need to consider the changes that will come alongside the implementation and how it will impact the solutions you already have in place. This can be difficult when dealing with multiple vendors, all used for different purposes.
When choosing a native Salesforce solution, such as NPSP, you reduce the number of vendors and contracts needed to sign and know that your solutions are built to interact with one another.
4. Do you want to stay flexible?
NPSP was built with a more comprehensive data model in mind and is designed to be compatible with all future fundraising releases (i.e., Elevate and Accounting Subledger). You will be able to enjoy the enhanced functionality of the applications, while still utilizing your favorite AppExchange solutions. You don’t have to choose between one or the other. Small managed package providers, however, do not have the resources or the interest in opening their application to other vendors who could improve your operations. The end-to-end managed product approach is limiting the flexibility our clients desire and deserve. Organizations don’t want to change their business process to accommodate architectural decisions that a vendor made when it built an all-inclusive product.
Riverside Community College District (RCCD) Foundation engaged Cloud for Good due to their expertise in advancement operations and their experience with the higher education sector. Based on the advice of Cloud for Good, RCCD Foundation chose the Nonprofit Success Pack as a solution that would provide them the tools to fundraise for each college within their district while managing grants, scholarships, and general funds holistically.
Let’s get past the fact that NPSP features the word “nonprofit” in its name. The suite of solutions and technological innovations also apply to higher education institutions looking to transform their processes and impact through the use of Salesforce technology. If you’re a forward-thinking education institution looking for the right platform to take your operations to the next level, look no further than NPSP.