This is a cross post from www.cloud4good.com

 

Nearly 30,000 attendees from across the globe joined the cloud at the biggest and best Dreamforce yet! This was also one of the largest nonprofit technology conferences with hundreds of nonprofit attendees and dozens of nonprofit-themed sessions.

 

Salesforce.com made some major announcements, including expanding their goal of enterprise-wide collaboration, spinning off of the database layer and acquiring an open-sourced, development platform company.

For those of you who could not make it to San Francisco this year, I wanted to recap some of the top announcements from the conference.  Here are my top 4:

 

1. Free Chatter – With Chatter Free, administrators can permit existing salesforce.com users to invite others within their organizations to utilize Chatter, in the same way Facebook users can invite friends to join their social networks.  Chatter Free provides enterprise-wide social collaboration capabilities, including:

  • Profiles
  • Status Updates
  • Real-Time Feeds
  • File Sharing
  • Groups
  • Filters
  • Invitations
  • Chatter Mobile
  • Chatter Desktop

This means that your ENTIRE CAMPUS can be on Chatter, not to mention volunteers and board members.

 

 

2. Database.com – Salesforce.com has unbundled the database layer of the Force.com platform to create a new standalone system that offers a point of entry to Salesforce.com’s Platform as a Service environment.  The standalone Database.com capabilities are being offered to respond to the changing way in which applications and databases are being architected in a more pluralistic fashion in the Cloud.  Marc Benihoff, Salesforce.com’s CEO, said that their goal is to democraticize database development and give their customers and partners another reason to expand their use of the Force.com platform.

 

 

What is the difference between Force.com and database.com?

Force.com is an application development platform. Database.com provides database services only. All access to the database is programmed through Salesforce.com APIs. Database.com does not include the Force.com development platform so there is no point-and-click application development, no home page, no chatter UI, no reports/dashboard, workflow, etc. All user interfaces must be built by a developer using their development platform of choice.

Learn more here: http://www.database.com/

 

3. Siteforce – A revolutionary way to build pixel perfect websites without code on Salesforce Sites.

Building websites today is slow and painful, with continual requests for new landing pages, new products and new campaigns.

Siteforce makes it easy to create new pages, manage content, and reuse pre-built components, all in real-time. And, websites built on Siteforce benefit from running on Salesforce.com’s trusted global infrastructure. Siteforce will be available in spring 2011.

 

4. Heroku Acquisition –  Heroku is the fastest-growing Internet-based system for applications written in the Ruby programming language. The Heroku acquisition and Database.com are both geared to the new world of social, mobile apps and help will give Salesforce.com customers extreme agility in developing new types of custom applications.

Learn more here: http://heroku.com/

Heroku

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Choosing the right Salesforce administrator for your organization is critical because the administrator is the most important role in making your CRM implementation a success.

admin

From our experience the role of the administrator for a small organization is not necessarily a full-time position. In the initial stages of the implementation, the role will require more concentrated time (about 50 percent of a full time position). After going live, managing Salesforce CRM day to day will require much less time (about 10-25 percent).

Here are some qualities to look for in an administrator:

 

It doesn’t need to be an “IT person”

Software as a service (SaaS) makes system administration much easier than it was with traditional software. Setting up, customizing the application, maintaining it, training users, and “turning on” the new features that become available with each release—all are just a few clicks away.

Although your administrator does not need have programming skills, but it could be an advantage, s/he should have:

  • A solid understanding of your business processes
  • Knowledge of the organizational structure and culture to help build relationships with key groups
  • Excellent communication, motivational, and presentation skills
  • The desire to be the voice of the user in communicating with management
  • Analytical skills to respond to requested changes and identify customizations
  • Outstanding project management skills

 

Training and Certification

It is always good to have proven professionals on staff. A certified administrator will mean a faster implementation and better use of Salesforce. If you cannot find a certified administrator or if you have a potential administrator for your organization that does not have any formal training, invest in him/her!

Training and certification will insure that your administrator has the knowledge and confidence to take full advantage of Salesforce. Find the right person for the job and continue to invest in that person’s professional development.

Salesforce certified administrator

What should an administrator do?

Here is just a sample of relevant duties:

1. Administration

  • Continuing customization and development
  • User maintenance
  • Database de-duping and cleanup
  • Development of reports and dashboards
  • Ongoing documentation
2. Training
  • Develop and implement training for users
  • Keep materials up-to-date
  • Communicate future Salesforce releases and enhancements

3. Grow

  • Design and manage ongoing development of the system to meet the organization’s mission.

4. Manage Vendors

  • Managed outsourced Salesforce implementation partners and ongoing relationships with Salesforce employees.

 

Cannot find the right person?

Cloud for Good can help you with your remote administration program. Contact us today to talk about the advantages of outsourcing your Salesforce administration to Cloud for Good.

 

 

Well… it depends.  

It depends on your needs, the complexity of your business process, your data, the number of staff to be trained etc. We receive a number of inquiries every week for Salesforce and Google Apps implementations; many of them do not contain enough information for us to respond.  

To expedite the process of finding your ideal technology partner and to receive an accurate proposal you should create a request for proposal (RFP). This comprehensive document should contain all the project’s requirements. There is no standardized or absolute format for an RFP; however, it should be structured in a manner that best conveys all aspects of your project to potential vendors.  

RFP 

I would like to share a few tips with you that, from our experience, will help improve the response rates to your RFP:  

1. Do your homework  

You might never be able to debate the merits of Apex code (the programming language that executes on the Force.com platform) and that’s Okay. However, before you write the RFP, figure out what you want and what is possible; reach out to other nonprofits in your sector, consult with volunteers and board members, and read related publications.  

2. Introduce your organization   

Include a brief introduction of your organization’s mission, and detailed information about the programs/constituents/organizations you need to track and manage.  

3. What is the nature of your project? What are your needs? What are the expected outcomes?   

While you answer these questions in your RFP, make sure to also include the project goals, including your current pain points. Remember, each department might have different goals and pain points. For example: “Difficulties tracking programs’ graduates” or “Unable to track volunteer’s registration”.  

Additionally, state where you want to be as a result of the project, for example: “Build and maintain long-term relationships with valuable donors by creating personalized experiences across all touch-points and by anticipating donor needs and providing customized offers.”   

4. Yes, we need to know your budget  

Always include your budget. You may be thinking that you should not disclose your budget because it does not leave a place for price negotiations, I disagree. A budget estimate would allow me, as a technology provider, to evaluate if we are a good fit. Furthermore, it will show me that you are serious about the project, aware of its complexity (you did your homework!), and that you have the budget to execute it.  Here is what you should not do: don’t create your project’s budget based on the proposals you received.  

 5. You should have a timeline  

“We would like to have this project done as soon as possible” – this is the second most common answer I receive when I ask a client “what is your timeline for the project?” The most common answer is “two years ago”.  A lack of timeline indicates to us that the potential client did not do any preparation and/or that the organization does not have a budget approved for the implementation.   

Your timeline should indicate at least the deadline for choosing the vendor, a date for the beginning of the discovery, and the date you would like to have the solution fully implemented.  

6. Distinguish between need and want  

Indicate what your most urgent needs are, what is important to have, and what would be nice to have in a world with no budgetary restrictions.  

For example: 
  • Must to have: Know why key donations are lost
  • Important: Accomplish administrative tasks more easily
  • Nice to have: Capture donations from the website

  

7. Additional helpful information: 
  • Define key aspects of your processes and diagram the process flow.
  • Identify some fields associated with your processes.
  • Decide which reports you need.
  • What database(s) do you currently use?  How long have you been using it? How many records do you have? Is your data accurate? Is it clean?
  • How many people will use the new system? How many are using it now? Will other people need access to information (board members, volunteers, students…)?

    

Ready? Contact us to schedule a time to talk about your needs.   

Building and cultivating relationships with donors, volunteers, or students is a critical task for nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions.  Email is (still) one of the most common communication vehicles for marketing and development departments. It can help your organization communicate with current and prospective constituents and in a highly personalized and cost-effective manner.

I often have conversations with our Salesforce clients about the best way to send email blasts. Should they use the native Salesforce CRM capabilities or a specialized email marketing application from the AppExchange?

Native Salesforce Mass Emails

  • Cost: Salesforce allows you to send a mass email message to a recipient list that consists of contacts, leads, person accounts, or users you can view in Salesforce at no additional cost.
  • Volume: Enterprise edition users (all nonprofit organizations who received the product donation) can send a maximum of 500 external email addresses per day at no additional cost.
  • Recipients:  You can mass email both Leads and Contacts, however, you will need to use separate blasts.
  • Email Sender:  The “from” email field is automatically generated with the sending user’s email address. It is not possible to manipulate this address or change it (you cannot send it on behalf of your CEO without workarounds).
  • Templates: You can create three types of email templates in Salesforce: text, HTML (with and without letterhead), and Visualforce. Text and HTML with letterheads templates are very easy to create, but have a very limited design capability. Visualforce email templates allow for advanced merging with a recipient’s data, where the content of a template can contain information from multiple records in Salesforce; this is a very powerful tool.
  • Tracking: It is possible to track an HTML email sent from Salesforce. You can only track the date it was first opened, the number of times it was opened, and the date it was most recently opened.
  • Whitelist: This might be the last item on this list; however, it might be the most important one. Salesforce mass emails are not whitelisted. This means that your email might end up in the recipient’s spam folder.

 

AppExchnage Email Marketing Solutions

 

If your needs are more complex than the native mass email capabilities, the AppExchange is the place for you. The AppExchange is a collection of cloud computing applications, all of which are pre-integrated with Salesforce.  Many of the mass email applications will allow you to build segmented lists, create and distribute customized email templates, and track post-drop activity, all from within Salesforce.

While deciding which application is right for your organization, we recommend considering the following:

  • Volume:  You need to consider how many contacts and leads are in your list. How many email blasts will you have every month?
  • Opt-in/out Management: A good application will have the ability for users to opt-out from a specific list or from your entire mailing list.
  • Reporting and Tracking:  Includes tools to evaluate campaign success with key results in real-time. Many applications include custom Salesforce reports and dashboards.
  • Social Media: Instantly share your email message on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • Templates: Ability to simply create template-based emails with an easy to use wizard.
  • Pricing: Every provider has their own pricing system which makes it very difficult to compare between vendors. Some base their prices on volume, the amount of emails that you send, and some offer bulk discounts. While you should always do your own analysis of price, here is an alphabetized short list of vendors with discounted prices for nonprofit organizations and at list a decent Salesforce integration:

 

ExactTarget LogoNonprofit organizations receive a 50% discount, each email costs 15 cents. It is not easy to get a price quote from them; it took us 4 days to find the relevant person because they don’t publish this information on their website. Let us know if you are interested and we will make the introduction for you. For more information check out their AppExchange Listing and a short demo.

iContact Logo Eligible nonprofit organizations can receive a 20% discount. Click here for complete price details. For more information check out their AppExchange Listing and a short demo.

Vertical Response - LogoNonprofit organizations are eligible for 10,000 free email sends per month and additional email credits at a 15% discount. Click here for complete price details. For more information check out their AppExchange Listing and a short demo.

Conclusion

I recommend using the AppExchnage solutions for regular email blasts such as e-newsletters. The Salesforce Mass Email feature can be used for emails like donor recognition, membership reminders, and acceptance/rejection letters.

Still not sure? Comment to ask questions.

The Salesforce Foundation is offering nonprofit organization and benefit corporations 10 donated licenses of the Salesforce Enterprise edition. You can choose from two different configurations of their product donation – Salesforce CRM or Salesforce CRM + Nonprofit Starter Pack. What is the difference? Which version is right for your organization?

The stand alone Salesforce CRM is the “out of the box” edition that is generally geared towards the business world. With that being said, Salesforce is an extremely flexible platform and it can be customized to meet your nonprofit’s       mission and needs. The “generic” Salesforce CRM configuration provides your organization with full control over your database; however, it might take more time (and money) to tailor it to support your operations.

What is the Nonprofit Starter Pack?

The Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP) was created to help nonprofit organizations use Salesforce. It was built to extend the functionalities of the standard Salesforce CRM to nonprofits in addition to supporting common business processes across social change organizations. It currently includes five managed packages. Each package consists of custom fields, custom objects, reports, workflows, page layouts, Force.com Code (Apex) and VisualForce pages.

So what are the different packages?

  1. Contacts and Organizations Package – manage relationships with organizations and individuals (contact-to-contact). For example, with participants, students, or volunteers.
  2. Household Package – group people who live in the same household.
  3. Recurring Donations Package – track donations pledged over time.
  4. Relationship Package – manage key relationships (family, friend, acquaintance, co-worker) between individuals.
  5. Affiliations Package – track individual’s affiliations to organizations. For example, John Smith can be an employee of ACME Corporation and a board member at Save the Whale.

Pros:

  • Out of the box solution that addresses key nonprofit needs
  • Allows managing relationships with individuals, not only organizations
  • No need to update when code changes or bugs are fixed
  • Can be uninstalled easily

Cons:

  • Every organization is different; it might not fit to your needs
  • It is managed; cretin components are locked and cannot be configurable
  • Individual module (one-to-one) is very limited
  • Does not support Person Account
  • Installation is complex

Salesforce CRM Donation + NPSP

Implementation and Training Costs

Whether you choose the NPSP or standard Salesforce CRM, you will likely require some assistance with customization, data migration, adoption, and training. The actual cost will vary depending on your needs, the number of staff that will be trained, your data, and complexity of business processes.  If the NPSP addresses your core needs it may require less customization than the standard Salesforce solution.

You Can’t Go Wrong

The Foundation enables you to sign up for a 30-day trial before you make a decision. If you are not sure, try both before you apply for the donation. Ready to get your hands on? Click here to sign up.

Please remember that with either template you choose, there may be a number of things to configure, there is no magical solution. Salesforce is one of the most flexible web-based solutions available on the market and it can be customized to meet your needs.

Still not sure? Contact us to consult which template will be right for your organization. We provide one hour of FREE consultation for nonprofit organizations.

Excel is not a database

Before I founded Cloud for Good I worked for a small nonprofit organization that loved to collect information. When I joined the organization, as a director of resource development, I inherited the organization’s most kept treasure. An Excel spreadsheet with all the donors and foundations we contacted in the past six or seven years, their social interests, who contacted them, when, how much money we asked, how much we received etc… This was (by far!) the largest spreadsheet I have ever seen in my life.

Overall, it seems like spreadsheets can be ideal for manage the organization’s knowledge. The Microsoft Office package is installed on most computers. Additionally, it is a very simple to use tool that we are all familiar with – we can easily create new columns and save. However, do not be tempted.  Excel is not a tool to manage and cultivate relationships!

 Excel is great with numbers but it is very limited. As a resource developer I could not efficiently track year to year donations or identify that one of our graduates could have been a potential donor. It was a great tool to analyze quantitative information, but it did not enable me to manage relationships between the information I tracked – it is “flat”.

  • Yes, you can add more columns to manage the information; however, how many columns will you need to track all the phone calls, emails, and meetings with your donor, volunteer, or student? Not to mention tracking all their donations, preferred days and time to volunteer, and program attendance. This is important information – if you wish to form a relationship with the constituent (or the foundation).
  • When your organization collects all the information (just like in my previous organization) the spreadsheet could include thousands of values and become very difficult to manage.
  • Your spreadsheet will not support your business process nor will it include workflows and automatic reminders. For example: Excel will not remind you to send a thank you letter every time you receive a donation.
  • Reporting in Excel can be very challenging. How would you know who gave last year but not this year and attended one of your programs’ graduation ceremonies?
  • And what about security? Everyone who has access to the spreadsheet can make changes and delete anything. You cannot determine who can see all of the information and who can edit specific columns.

 

Your database is one of the most valuable assets for your organization.  A good database is necessary to help you grow and provide better services to the community. It should support the organization’s mission and should be adopted by your entire organization and not only one team. It should be easy to use (you don’t want a system that only one person within your organization can use), flexible (it should evolve with your strategy) and it should support the type of work you do.

Dreamforce
It is the 8th annual salesforce.com user and developer conference! Dreamforce, a four-day conference, is the perfect place to take advantage of hands-on training, learn best practices of successful users, and connect with peers and salesforce.com experts.
Here are just a few things you will find at Dreamforce:
  • 325+ breakout sessions
  • A dedicated nonprofit/education session track
  • Cloud Expo featuring 250+ partner solutions
  • Hands-on training, interactive demos, and more
  • Opportunities to network with other nonprofit/educator attendees
Registration opens today and as a nonprofit client you should have received an email with a registration code. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Salesforce Foundation is offering a heavily subsidized nonprofit/educator rate of $99 USD to the first 400 nonprofit and educator registrants (versus the standard registration rate of $999). Once the $99 rate has sold out, the rate will increase to $199. This special rate is for the sole use of nonprofit and educational institutions.
Salesforce Foundation
To register at the special rate, visit the Dreamforce home page and enter your registration code. Be sure to register soon to ensure your spot at the cloud computing event of the year.

I will be there!