10 Signs Your Nonprofit is Ready For Salesforce

Is Salesforce the right tool for my organization?

If you’re implementing a new CRM at your org, then this has likely crossed your mind. Platforms abound for nonprofits ready to track their constituent data, and Salesforce is no exception.

The functionality and technical support alone make it a tool that thousands of professionals (literally)  swear by!

I guess Salesforce is like the Regina George of CRMs: pretty, popular and highly effective.

As an admin, I agree that it’s a fantastic tool. But that doesn’t make it the right tool for everyone. While there are many great things to Salesforce, you shouldn’t look at those features in a vacuum.

To determine if this is a fit, you really need to consider Salesforce’s capabilities in relation to your org’s capacity. Are the circumstances right for this, right now? 

Let’s find out! If these 10 points ring true, then your org may just be ready to join the ohana

*P.S This is not a sponsored post (psh, I wish!). Keep an eye out for my list of reasons why NOT to go with Salesforce next week.*

10 Signs You’re Ready to Implement Salesforce

Salesforce implementation nonprofit

1. Your org is ready to streamline constituent data in one, central place.

To get the most from Salesforce, your departments should be on the same data page. While it’s great if Development logs donor activities in Salesforce, that effort amplifies when Marketing and Volunteer Management also operate from the same place.

If your teams are serious about centralizing, then it’s time to do your happy dance. 

2. You need a system that can be tailored to meet very specific needs.

This is what sets Salesforce apart. The customization possibilities are darn near endless, so it’s entirely possible to design an instance that is close to perfect for your org! 

3. You’ve looked into other systems, and nothing else fits the bill.

Salesforce is a lot, sometimes too much. If you’ve clearly defined your needs, shopped around and landed with Salesforce as the best option, then you’re in great company.

4. The higher-ups have your back.

Any successful implementation needs the backing of your leadership team. This sends a clear message about priorities and sets the tone for your staff’s cooperation. You’ll definitely need the latter; org-wide change is never easy!

5. You have the resources to assemble your dream team.

Even if it’s just you and one consultant, or you have the green light to bring on an admin 😮, you’ll need people and funds for this to work. Don’t be jaded by the free-for-nonprofits schtick. Yes, some licenses may come at no cost….but nothing useful (or transformative) in Salesforce was ever built for free!

6. Your org’s data is in decent shape.

Maybe you have spreadsheets up the wazoo, or you’re migrating over from a legacy system. The transition of that data into Salesforce is going to be your biggest hurdle, so any pre-existing structure is helpful.,

7. You’re ready to make terms like workflow rules, permission sets, and lightning record pages a normal part of everyday life.

Whoever owns this project needs to be ready to dive in. This is one beast of an implementation, and even then, a responsible instance will evolve as new features release (and as your org changes over time). For Salesforce to last, someone on staff needs to understand 1) how it generally works and 2) how it specifically works within your org.

8. You’ve used Salesforce in the past. Even if you hated it.

Having to use Salesforce for an old job, and designing an instance for the first time, are two totally different things. Even if you didn’t like using it before – maybe it was clunky, inaccurate or just plain difficult – this is your chance to right that wrong! There’s so much flexibility these days in the design of Salesforce (thank youuu, Lightning), which will lend to building a more thoughtful user experience.

9. You’re open to the career trajectory that Salesforce can inspire.

Prepare to step into a different world of work. Salesforce has created thousands of jobs, and consequently, a robust professional community of admins, developers, tech leads, project managers, and more. And surprise: many of us got our start the same way you are! So if you’re even the tiiiiiniest bit curious about alternative career paths or getting more technical with your role, this is a great way to get your feet wet.

10. This isn’t the first time your org has considered Salesforce.

If this has already been a topic of conversation, then it probably just wasn’t right before. But if you find the conversation going deeper and you have everything else above, then this may be your moment.

*BONUS:* On the Salesforce side of things, this is a great time to move over. They’ve resolved many of the kinks in their Lightning user interface, plus their PD offerings and online community have made learning (and troubleshooting) Salesforce the easiest it has EVER been.

Oh! And the cost of maintaining those certifications, should you pursue them, is now free. Say whaaaaaat.


Be on the lookout for next week’s post, exploring the reasons why your org might want to hold off on Salesforce. (Won’t remember to come back? Subscribe here.)

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