The Top 5 Salesforce Features for Non-Profits


The Top 5 Salesforce Features for Nonprofits

By: Doug Campbell | September 15th, 2020

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With over 150,000 companies leveraging its technology, Salesforce is  the most widely used cloud-based CRM platforms in the world. It’s also one of the most successful companies - as the software company recently debuted on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) listed as the index’s third largest holding.

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Salesforce and isn’t just for the small business and the corporate crowd. Salesforce solutions are utilized by over 47,000 Nonprofit organizations globally with free and reduced licensing costs making it accessible to every size organization.

Salesforce is huge and may seem complex, but Salesforce for Nonprofits doesn’t have to be overwhelming. As a former Nonprofit leader and Salesforce user, I will share my Top 5 Salesforce Nonprofit Features that are essential to building a rock solid Salesforce Org foundation for your Nonprofit. Just like building blocks, each feature provides a solid footing for the next to support three of the most important elements in running a successful Nonprofit:

  • Providing the highest quality care and services to the communities and people you serve 
  • Being ready to answer a donor or investor when asked “Why should I donate?”
  • Backing it up with proven data!

As a Nonprofit CEO, Board Member or Program Manager, you have control how you roll out Salesforce, and what specific solution features can make the most impact for your organization.

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The Top 5 Salesforce Features for Nonprofits

Case Management

Providing the highest quality care and services to your community and clients is the reason your Nonprofit exists. And it’s the most important feature of Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud to get right. Everything, from quality of service, volunteer training, capacity building, data tracking, and fundraising starts with understanding how well your staff and volunteers deliver value and results to your clients. Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud Case Management provides real time insights to where a client is in their journey and feedback to case managers to effectively manage caseloads ensuring no one slips through the cracks.

Here are some specific features where Nonprofit Cloud Case Management can improve your organization:

Simplify your Intake and Referrals

Reduce the time and steps needed to enroll a client into a program and start delivering services or refer them to another organization with Client Intake and Client Referrals.

Personalized Case Plans

Client focused case plans help your staff or service providers keep clients on track. With a few clicks in the case management tool, service providers can select from commonly used goals and action items or create custom ones unique to clients’ needs. In a single view, providers can track and understand clients’ progress and what is outstanding.

Visualize your client’s progress

With the assessments feature, service providers can determine their client’ s baseline status when they enter the program and visualize how their circumstances change over time.

Salesforce Non-Profit UI

The Salesforce UI, shown here configured for a nonprofit - showcases all of these key features.

Program Management

The Salesforce Program Management solution for Nonprofits builds off the data, intake, and case workflow processes set up in Case Management. Program Management provides a higher vantage point for Program Directors to measure and manage all their programs within single platform without the hassle of pulling information from spreadsheets and paper documents. In addition, service providers, volunteers, and leadership can collaborate and review data on which programs need improvement, and quickly adapt to better serve their clients’ needs.

Here are a few specific features in the Program Management solution that I have found useful:

Program Manager Home Page

From the moment you login, you can see if your team is on track and identify high-level program trends. Also, take advantage of the upcoming tasks component to plan out your day.

Program Engagements Tracking

Connect clients to the programs they are engaged with. See all ofall the interactions a participant has had with the program so you or your team can view it in one place.

Reporting and Dashboards

Pre-built reports and dashboards give you a unified view across all of your programs and lays the groundwork for layering on more advanced impact measurement tools.

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Reporting and Dashboards

With all the data you’re compiling in Salesforce about your programs and clients (not to mention any apps or integrations you’ve paired with your CRM), you’ll need a way to make all this information meaningful and useful. Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud has a wide range of built-in reporting tools to help make sense of various data sets, enabling you to create custom reports unique to your organization. Then, you can display those reports visually using dashboards.

Here are a few examples of how Salesforce reports can help you communicate data:

Grant Reporting

A large portion of your operating capital may come from foundations and state/federal grant programs. requiring you to submit quarterly, semi-annual or annual grant reports based on metric objectives outlined in your funding request. You can create specific reports and dashboards that track data through-out the funding period and generate reports automatically.

Donor Acquisition

Measure how many new donors you engaged during your last fundraising campaign or at your last event by running reports on new leads generated or contacts added during a set time frame. You can even automate these to run on a schedule that keeps you updated regularly with no extra effort.

Fundraising Progress 

Discover how your organization is tracking against your goals by building a dashboard to show a real-time picture of the revenue you’ve earned toward your end goal. Don’t forget to display this dashboard on your Salesforce home page so it’s always front of mind!

Salesforce Non-Profit UI

Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Whether you’re getting the word out about new program to serve your community or inspiring supporters to donate, your marketing and communications initiatives can have a huge impact on your organization’s growth strategies. However, with so many channels through which you can communicate, it’s difficult to nail down how you’ll connect with your supporters and how you’ll track those efforts within your CRM.

Within Salesforce Marketing Cloud, your nonprofit can manage marketing and communications in a comprehensive way, taking advantage of the most relevant, engaging channels, such as:

Email Marketing

Perhaps the most universal communication channel around, email can be your go-to for newsletters, donation solicitation, acknowledgments, event marketing, and virtually anything else. Design branded email templates and build out custom automatons based on content or recipient list.

Social Media

Whether your supporters are using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or all of the above, your nonprofit’s web presence relies on active social media profiles. Store your constituents’ profile information within your CRM so you can keep track of their interactions and manage your own posts effectively.

marketing meeting

Fundraising & Donation Management

To keep your organization’s mission moving forward, you need to find creative ways to bring in operating capital. Those efforts typically combine different fundraising techniques and strategies, from hosting fundraising events to cultivating long-term major donor relationships to simply setting up an online donation form. Thankfully, your Salesforce CRM can help you balance all your fundraising efforts in a way that drives your campaigns forward.

By using Salesforce’s features and a few well-placed integrations, you can manage a multitude of fundraising tactics, such as:

Online Fundraising

Being able to accept gifts on your website is essential! You can customize your web-to-lead capture so that online donation form data appropriately transfers to any field in your database, or work with an online giving tool that offers a custom Salesforce integration.

Matching Gifts

A vital part of many nonprofits’ fundraising strategies, matching gifts can have a place in your Salesforce system, too! You can manually track employer information on your donor profiles, but for best results, you’ll likely need to implement a custom integration.

Peer-to-peer Fundraising

By integrating a peer-to-peer fundraising platform with your CRM, you’ll be able to seamlessly transfer  fundraiser and donor information into Salesforce. Because peer-to-peer fundraising is so unique, it’s important to find an app that can map your data to Salesforce in a streamlined way.

You’ll be able to track these campaigns within Salesforce providing you a real-time snapshot of who is donating, how you’re collecting donations, and how you’re measuring up to your short- and long-term fundraising goals.

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Choose the Right Implementation Partners

For over 23 years, fivestar* has helped organizations navigate the complexity of implementing new technology.  To help nonprofits seamlessly and cost-effectively implement Salesforce solutions, we have partnered with Extentia – a Salesforce Gold Consulting partner and one of only a select few PDO-Specialist Navigators in the world. Extentia has worked on over 250 salesforce projects over the last 10 years, across industries ranging from logistics and manufacturing to healthcare.


About the Author: Doug Campbell

Doug brings over 20 years of experience to fivestar*, spending 10+ years as a Nonprofit CEO of a business accelerator building relationships and connecting entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations to more than $20M in funding and capital investments. During that time, Doug helped his clients launch more than 30 companies and accumulated over 10,000 hours of consulting experience in Salesforce, manufacturing, software and product development, economic development, universities, nonprofit management and fundraising.

Looking to solve a challenge for your nonprofit?

fivestar* can help.