7 Reasons Your Nonprofit Will Want to Move to Lightning

Okay, nonprofits. It’s time to move to Salesforce Lightning.

I know you love (or at least tolerate your disdain) for Salesforce Classic. I get that the idea of switching sounds like a nightmare! But surely you knew this was coming.

In case you’re a Salesforce admin who somehow hasn’t heard, Lightning is the newest Salesforce interface. Without intending to sound like a gimmicky salesperson, Lightning is the way of the future for Salesforce customers.

I mean really. We’re going from this…

…to this.


With a difference that stark, is it any wonder why so many of us are shaking in our socks about that transition?

My org has been on Lightning for over a year, and I’ll be honest: when we first started, I was not impressed. Lightning seemed to add steps to tasks I could already do decently well in Classic…with less of the admin functionality.

But on the user side, the experience was a drastic improvement. So I put my big-girl-admin pants on and stuck with it, for their sake. 😬

And I’m glad I did! Lightning has finally grown out of its awkward, I’m-new-and-still-missing-key-features phase. It’s blossomed into this promising tool that has already begun taking over the ecosystem and changing the way us nonprofits do CRM work.

Still skeptical? Here are 5 great things that happen when you finally do take that leap.

1. You can finally build dashboards that will make staff want to use Salesforce.

Seriously! The dashboard upgrade from Classic to Lightning is phenomenal, both in appearance & functionality. It’s by far the best upgrade on this list, and will delight all the reporting mavens & data nerds at your org.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s how my dashboard looked before…

…and here’s how it looks now in Lightning.

You might be wondering: does it really matter that these dashboards look nicer than what’s in Classic? Well, YES it absolutely does.

Don’t underestimate the role that appearances play in tech adoption. Data that looks good will make users feel good about interacting with your system. Yes,I said it: when Salesforce looks good, people feel better about using it. Isn’t that what we all need at our orgs?

2. Your staff can edit many records at once, without your help.

One frequent, valid complaint is that Salesforce records are cumbersome to edit. I’ve specifically heard someone say “I wish it were like editing a spreadsheet.”

Well friends, there’s a list-view feature for that.

Don’t get me wrong; no data system on earth has the same ease as a spreadsheet (riiiight?). But this is the closest Salesforce has ever gotten to it, and it’s pretty great.

As long as your list view has a record type filter, in-line editing allows users to change multiple fields all at once – without having to open individual records.

The text is hard to read, but you get the gist! Here I’m changing a stage & adding a next step, all within a Lightning Opportunities list view!

Another feature that looks good, but grants us the edit functionality we’ve been waiting on for YEARS. Good job, Salesforce.

3. You can perform automations, alerts & other admin magic to take your instance to the next level.

If you haven’t heard of Process Builder, it’s time to get acquainted. For those who have set up email alerts, record updates or other things via the classic Salesforce setup, then you know it takes a few steps to get those triggers in motion. Further, the relation between those steps isn’t immediately clear.

That’s where Process Builder comes in. It’s basically a digital whiteboard for creating automations. It lays out every automation option possible in an easy-to-work-with format, and is intuitive enough that any admin can learn.

Here’s a screenshot from the Process Builder unit on Trailhead (Salesforce’s gamified hub for learning all the tech things. Linked below for those who don’t know!).

*Tip*: This tool is really tough to describe in writing…so check it out for yourself! Complete the Salesforce Trailhead module on Process Builder. You’ll get to actually use it in a consequence-free test environment, and see the possibilities for yourself.


You don’t have to be a wizard to use process builder. But when you do, people at your org will think that you are.

4. You can ultimately design the experience for your users – without needing Visualforce.

YOU GUYS. This is a boon for admins who struggle with lengthy page layouts, because we’re trying to get all the essential data in front of users!

All you could do before was break fields into sections, with related lists (objects) at the bottom. The result? Record pages that could go on for miles, like this:

Ok, so this record isn’t that long. But it’s only an example.

Now with Lightning Record Pages, we as admins can be more intentional about our end-user experience. All it takes is a few hours of getting acquainted with their WYSIWIG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get)-like page builder, called Lightning App Builder.

Check these out ↑. They’re components that you drag and drop into this ↑ page builder space. And there are tons of options!

While the visual aspects are exciting, this is about more than flash. It’s about changing the way admins succeed in their jobs, by giving them power over the presentation of data! When fundraisers or case managers need to go into Salesforce, how they view data can be just as important as what they’re viewing.

Before, you needed a Salesforce developer to code something even close this level. Now, it’s in your hands… and to prove it, here are 3 different designs for the same Account record.

Example 1:

Borrowing from the Classic layout. I didn’t put related objects on the bottom here, because hovering your mouse over one of the ‘Quick Links’ options produces a list view that is more than sufficient!

Example 2:

In this layout, I have related objects on the left, record fields in the center, and a Chatter feed on the right.

Example 3:

Personally, I like the two-column format best for Accounts. You can finally put critical fields AND critical related objects towards the top of the page.

Also, see that “related” tab on the right side? Lightning Tabs add another layer of flexibility in how users can toggle between page elements!

5. You can take advantage of Salesforce’s free training environment.

If you’re not familiar with Trailhead, add it to your list! This is Salesforce’s gamified online learning environment, covering a wide range of useful topics – from reporting, to security and administration, and even configuring/supporting the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP).

As far as CRM offerings go, Trailhead is a gem of a resource for nonprofits. But the majority of modules only cover Lightning.

6. If you have any plans to get certified, that’s a Lightning exam, too.

I took the exam after studying the classic interface for 6 months. At the time I took the exam (in-person), there were only a few questions on my test that were Lightning specific. But that was more than a year ago, and as Salesforce moves more towards Lightning (all your maintenance exams now happen in Trailhead), it’s going to hurt you professionally to put all your hopes and energy in Classic alone.

7. Your org is getting your money’s worth when you transition to Lightning.

Many orgs are reluctant to make this transition happen, for the simple fact that it feels like a pain. If your end users already have their gripes about Salesforce, thrusting a new system onto them is a daunting task!

But your org is paying for Salesforce, one way or the other. If you don’t make the switch, you’re throwing away money & time.

While I still prefer Classic for many things, there’s no denying that Lightning is an objectively better interface. And if you’re a responsible admin who stays on top of updates and releases, then you know that Lightning is the only thing Salesforce is updating. In fact, Classic is on track to retire soon.

You’ll need to transition eventually. Don’t be the org that waits for the Classic sunset date to make that change happen.

To wrap this up….

If you want to take advantage of a CRM that is constantly improving & getting support, AND do it on your own timeline, start putting the pieces in motion. Get your org ready to make the transition from Classic to Lightning, sooner rather than later!

What are you nervous about moving over to Lightning? Are you, or your org, in the process of planning for that switch? Share in the comments!

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