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Hit the Trail with Salesforce Trailhead for Nonprofits

As a Cloud Consultant with Cloud for Good, I’m working primarily with nonprofit organizations who are implementing unique combinations of standard Salesforce with the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) and their own customizations to meet their individual needs. I often find myself saying to my clients, “Don’t forget to check out the amazing free NPSP Trailheads! You’ll learn so much; you’ll be a Salesforce genius in no time.” In case you haven’t heard, Trailhead is the “fun way to learn Salesforce,” using interactive trails, modules, and units to guide you through various topics ranging from specific features of Salesforce to diversity and inclusion within the workplace.

But, let’s #TBT for a moment to when I was working in program management at a nonprofit and was responsible for our organization’s transition to Salesforce. My implementation partner told me about Trailhead, sent me some links, and I told him, “Thank you so much! I’ll definitely check these out,” when I knew full well that I was way too busy, and it was way too much information, and I was way not definitely checking these out.

I’ve been in your seat, Nonprofit User, and I know you have a lot going on, but I also do believe in the power of the NPSP Trailheads; I know that if you invest a little time in them, you and your organization will ultimately get more out of your new or updated instance of Salesforce. So, let me help you leverage Trailhead better by directing you to the right unit for you depending on your nonprofit role, and provide some tips on getting the information to your whole organization:

If you are… Check out…
–       Brand new to Salesforce.

–       Going to be your organization’s System Administrator (you’ll need to be able to explain these core concepts to your colleagues).

–       Any User – these are the basics.

Meet the Salesforce Platform
The System Admin. –       Translate Your Nonprofit Data to Salesforce

–       Customize Salesforce for Your Nonprofit

Mason Frank also recommends the Admin Beginner trail, which is not specific to nonprofit System Admins but has great information on managing your data, customizing the interface, and understanding the architecture.

On your organization’s Development staff (or you “wear many hats” including managing gifts). Donation Management

As we’ve reported in the past, “Most of the other trails are designed for system administrators and/or developers but [this] Nonprofit Trail is ideal for end users.” I recommend the entire thing, but if you only have time for one unit, do Create and Manage Donations.

The Volunteer Manager at your organization. –       Volunteers for Salesforce (V4S) Basics

–       Volunteer Registration

–       Volunteer Management

(You may also be interested in Website Integration for Volunteer Management, but you may want to review that one with a member of your IT staff).

Any new Salesforce User, or anyone who needs a refresher. –       Work with Your Salesforce Admin

–       Navigate Lightning Experience and Setup

–       CRM Basics for Salesforce Classic

(Ask your Admin if you’re using LEX or Classic).

There is so much valuable knowledge available in Trailhead – so while these are my recommendations for if you only have a few minutes, I hope that you’ll take the time to delve deeper!

As soon as you start using Trailhead, I know that you’ll want your colleagues to be learning with you. But, how can you help your entire team leverage all of the knowledge that exists in Trailhead when you’re all very busy implementing your mission? Consider learning together: assign 1-2 Trailhead modules or units per week, and do a quick review or quiz at staff meeting. Or, assign each person to a specific trail and to a date to give a “presentation” on what they learned. Finally, create a leaderboard among your team to track who has earned the most Trailhead points and badges to create some healthy competition.

Classy recommends talking about your learning plan with your supervisor. This is a great way to keep yourself accountable, and also to get feedback about what topics would be most important for you to review – for your own personal growth and for the organization as a whole.

Also, if you are working with a consultant, I recommend that you dive into Trailhead before your organization’s training with them. That way, you can invest the time with your consultant to review advanced concepts and information that is unique to your system, rather than to reviewing the “out-of-the-box” basics that you could read online.

You’ve probably already guessed that, when I was working at my nonprofit years ago, I did eventually listen to my implementation partner about using Trailhead to learn Salesforce – and it ultimately helped me gain my Administrator certification and change careers. I still use it all the time now to learn new features and refresh my skills. Are you ready to “hit the trail” with me?

Additional reading:

  1. Mason Frank: An introduction to Salesforce Trailhead: Admin Beginner trail
  2. Classy: 4 Useful Salesforce Trailhead Courses for Nonprofits
  3. Salesforce Blog: 4 Best Practices for Learning on Trailhead