nonprofits

A Single Merge to Rule Them All

A Single Merge to Rule Them All

It’s often a thankless task, but sending out Thank You letters is an important part of the development process. These letters give nonprofits yet another way to engage supporters so it’s important to personalize their message whenever practical.

Enter Apsona and Apsona Document and Email Merge. Nonprofits can leverage these powerful, but inexpensive utilities to produce custom acknowledgment letters for print or email and do so with only single generation of merged letters.

Let’s use a real-life example to demonstrate what we mean.

Let’s say a nonprofit receives 200 donations one week and they break down as such:

  • 100 received with no indication of what campaign generated the donation
  • 50 received at a dinner gala to support a specific program
  • 25 received because of an end of year campaign
  • 25 received in advance of a summer fun run

In the above situation a nonprofit has a couple options:

  1. Send 200 acknowledgments with a generic thank you and no mention of what prompted the gift
  2. Send custom acknowledgments with a message specific to the encounter that generated the donation.

The first option above is typically the fastest, but also the least satisfying.  The second option is best, but often requires generating multiple document merges, one for each campaign, and that can become time-consuming for staff. Utilizing a little trick we developed, a nonprofit can get the best of both options: efficiency and greater customization.

An Overview of the Solution

The solution relies upon each active Campaign having an Acknowledgement Letter field containing the main body of an acknowledgment letter. In addition, each Donation record should identify the relevant Campaign above via the Primary Campaign Source field.  If the relevant Campaign isn’t known then utilize a default or placeholder Campaign.

Utilizing an Apsona report and merge action, these fields link each Donation to the appropriate acknowledgment Campaign for purposes of merging the relevant text into an Acknowledgement letter.

Configuring the Acknowledgement Solution

The configuration isn’t horribly difficult; however, it requires a familiarity with creating and editing Salesforce fields, updating page layouts, creating Apsona reports and merge actions, and creating a MS Word document with appropriate merge fields.  Below is a high-level overview of the configuration.

Step 1 - Fields

There are four Salesforce fields required:

  • Acknowledgment Letter - Create a long text field on the Campaign object and set the number of lines to at least 20. The field should be added to all relevant Campaign page layouts.

For each active Campaign that may generate donations, be sure to populate this field with the body of a corresponding Acknowledgement letter. The body should consist of all text beginning after “Dear …” and should include a sign-off such as “Sincerely, Executive Director.”

  • Primary Campaign Source - This is a standard Salesforce Donation field that already exists although it should be made required to ensure all future donations have a Campaign value.  This field will identify what Campaign for the proper acknowledgment letter. Alternatively, if there is concern about using this standard field, then consider a custom Donation field that looks up to a Campaign record.
  • Acknowledgment Status - The Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) includes this field. Creating the following picklist values if they do not already exists and ensure the field has been added to all relevant Donation page layouts:
    • To Be Acknowledged (set this as the default value for the picklist)
    • Do Not Acknowledge
    • Acknowledged
  • Acknowledgment Date - The NPSP also includes this field so ensure it is visible on all relevant Donation page layouts.

Step 2 - Merge File

There are two key elements to remember.

First, you’ll need to create an Apsona-friendly MS Word template. For more about how to create a merge template.

Second, you’ll need to upload the template to Salesforce Documents so that it is available to Apsona. This document should include a merge field that will be a placeholder for the Acknowledgement Letter text. To see a simplified merge document.

Step 3 - Apsona Single-Step Report

Create an Apsona Donation report. This report should include any relevant Donation, Account, and Contact fields, as well as the fields indicated above. This ensures the text of the Acknowledgement letter is available for merging and for updating of the Acknowledgement Status and Date fields. For more about creating Apsona reports.

Step 4 - Apsona Merge Action

Finally, you’ll want to create an Apsona Merge Action to complement the report above. For more about creating Apsona Merge Actions. This action should do each of the following:

  • Identify the Salesforce Document above for merging
  • Map the merge fields, including the Acknowledgement Letter field
  • Set the Acknowledgement Status to Acknowledged
  • Set the Acknowledgement Date
  • Generate a single MS Word document for printing
  • If desired, create an Activity entry for each Donation acknowledged

Solution Variations

The approach outlined above is simply one approach. There are a number of ways it can be adjusted to meet your nonprofit's needs. For example, some nonprofits will prefer to email these acknowledgments while others might prefer a different set of actions upon creation of a merge document.

We Can Help

Of course, every Salesforce instance and every nonprofit’s needs will vary and that’s why Now IT Matter’s is here to help. In addition to configuring solutions such as this, we also help clients think about how to streamline and enhance current processes so they aren’t stuck with a one-size-fits-all solution. If you think this solution might be for you then give us a call so we can talk more about your nonprofit’s needs.

A Little Hope Goes A Long Way

A Little Hope Goes A Long Way

 

Chronic depression has been a shadow of mine since high school, and while I’ve learned to live and deal with it, life events sometimes darken the world for me; so to say that 2016 wasn’t great for me is an understatement. From a bitter election to my dad’s cancer diagnosis, it felt like the year ground humanity down; Carrie Fisher was the last straw. I was reminded last week that hope is the best defense against despair. When it comes to hope a little can go a long way. So I want to start 2017 with a few Bozeman nonprofit organizations and Salesforce heroes that gave me hope in a hard year.

 

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First up is Bridget Wilkinson from Bozeman Area Community Foundation on the day that the online giving platform, Kimbia, went down for the local Give Big day that she spent a year organizing. Over 130 local nonprofits had spent months working on social media, local businesses had volunteered their locations as donor lounges; thousands of hours went into preparing for a day of giving only to have the online platform stall out at 9:30 in the morning. I had talked Bridget into letting me play tech support for the day, and by 10 am the writing was on the wall, Kimbia wasn’t functional. At 10:30 four of us put our heads together and came up with a plan. Katie worked media communication with Bridget, a board member set up a phone bank with a local business ( Foundant), and I set up a google spreadsheet to hand enter donations. Yes, a google spreadsheet. Our goal for the day was $300,000 in donations. When the dust settled (two weeks later) we had raised over $430,000. 19 volunteers hand entered over 2,000 donations recorded on printouts of the google sheet. Bridget has entered legendary status (which she deserves) among Montana nonprofits (I heard at a conference that Bridget had another backup plan in case the first backup plan failed). It reminded me that technology, while important, is never a replacement for relationships; people give to people.

familypromiselogoLate in 2015 I met Christine Armstrong the Volunteer & Outreach Manager at Family Promise of Gallatin Valley at her office after hearing that she needed some help with Salesforce. The vision of Family Promise is near to my heart, and I wanted to help. Her salesforce instance was overwhelming her and an hour with me didn’t do much to help. In fact, I left feeling that I had made things worse and that she was going to avoid the system and just work in excel as much as possible. I could not have been more mistaken. She was at the first User Group meeting and started using two hours a week to focus on learning Salesforce. She presented on custom fields at a future user group meeting and by mid-summer, she was working with a Salesforce tech from the National office of Family Promise to get her instance upgraded. She came to nearly every Summer School user group session where she used what she had learned to help other users with their Salesforce issues. Her grit and perseverance inspired and helped me to believe in the resilience of awesome admins.

mccWendy Wigert, Director of Operations with Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) is a force to be reckoned with. She is friendly and personable, but when it comes to Salesforce and data she is also on the ball, in control, and comes to a discussion with strong opinions and unapologetic (and reasonable) expectations. It doesn’t work for every personality, but Wendy pulls it off with style and as a result, MCC continues to grow as it provides Montana with valuable services and develops the leaders of tomorrow. It seems like every third person I meet in Montana has served with MCC. NiM migrated two Access databases for MCC last year and provided initial training for their staff. Wendy had her team in Trailhead getting badges and learning Salesforce before the first Access database was even exported. She doesn’t just talk about Salesforce with her staff, she learns it and creates the space for her staff to learn it as well. And while that might be rare, it’s best practice and what we hope for; it meets our expectations for a good admin and project champion. However, she was a first on two things in consulting. First, she created the time and space for her staff to correct all data errors that they could find; by hand one record at a time; this included several thousand duplicate records. When I told her about a dedupe tool she pointed out that she and her staff would know the data much better by looking at each record and that at the end of it would be sure that the data was pristine. I had my doubts that the work would get done, but she hired a temp, created time for her staff, and they had it knocked out within a few weeks. She also instituted a bi-weekly learning meeting (called Brain Trust) where her staff show up and answer questions and solve issues together. There is a strong economic argument that the best expense an organization can make is increasing knowledge of internal processes, and MC is proving this to be true. Wendy has transformed their data footprint with a smile on her face; encouraging words to her staff to level up with Salesforce, and personally demonstrates to me what can be done with focus and commitment.

thrive-logoThen there’s Thrive. They have been making families stronger and supporting kids for over 30 years. When my son was struggling with reading we met with teachers and guess who showed up… yep, someone from Thrive. When my daughter started having lunch with a college-aged mentor once a week guess who set it up; also, Thrive. The best teacher I have ever experienced, quit construction in his 40’s and got a teaching degree because of his volunteer work with Thrive. Vanessa Skelton helped implement Salesforce a few years ago and now co-leads the Bozeman Salesforce User Group with me. Last year I had the privilege to share office space at Thrive. I witnessed first hand the passion their staff holds for the children they serve when one staff member was brought to tears when she received bad news about a mentee. I’m not totally comfortable with the fact that her sobs brought me hope, but as someone who uses cynicism as a shield, the raw grief and vulnerability of that moment motivated me to embrace the sad instead of pretending it away.

rogue-oneI saw Rogue One the day that Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) passed away. Maybe I was more reflective than I should have been, however, the movie left me pondering the relationship between Hope and Sacrifice; that rebellions and nonprofits are built on them. Thank you to all of you who stand for a better world against all odds and give of yourself personally each day to our community; you are being watched and you are making a difference! I would love to hear where you found hope in 2016 and your aspirations for 2017.

Is it time to #LevelUp your Fundraising!?!

Justin Barss, NiM Director of Sales, spoke today at Dreamforce on using forecasting in Salesforce to #levelup your fundraising! Click here to learn how to #levelup fundraising for your nonprofit organization!

Now IT Matters is here to help your organization #LevelUp, reach out and we will get you in touch with Justin, (415) 690-8567. You may also want to set up forecasting for your nonprofit on your own by following the steps Justin outlined in his presentation. The presentation slides are available for download here. Full content courtesy of Tim Lockie.

#LevelUp for Success with NPSP Engagement Plans and Levels

#LevelUp for Success with NPSP Engagement Plans and Levels

The new Nonprofit Success Pack takes moves management to the next level (pun totally intended!) with native tools including Engagement Plans and Levels.

These amazing new tools provide development staff with great efficiency in managing cultivation efforts and planning for the next “ask.” Engagement Plans leverage the power of both Activities and Tasks (including Reminders and Recurring Tasks) which allow staff to easily spin up and follow a plan for cultivation without needing to install another app.

Staff can start with an Engagement Plan template - based on tested and proven paths - and then tailor Engagement Plans to align with a donor’s interests. Gone are the days of missing important steps in a cultivation process because you failed to create a Task!

My personal favorite new feature is NPSP Levels.

Being able to track giving levels, plus have future gifts automatically adjust a donor’s giving level, and then segment Contacts or Households for targeted marketing according to giving level have long been popular requests from our clients. We achieved this through a combination of tools including reports, roll-up summaries, custom fields, and Process Builder, but took several “extra” steps for something so fundamental to moves management.

Now, with NPSP Levels, development staff can easily set up Levels based on Minimum or Maximum Amounts for a variety of fields (see below) on the Account, Contact, or custom objects.

levels

And, as for the requirement that Levels update dynamically; now Levels are automatically updated nightly when batches run. If that’s too long to wait, then you can also push an update through the NPSP Settings “Run Batch” utility.

Add an Engagement Plan to the Level to launch a series of cultivation efforts when someone hits a specific Level, and then you have one efficient moves management machine!

I’m thrilled to introduce these new features to our clients and watch them #LevelUp for Success with the new Nonprofit Success Pack! I’d love to hear about how these new features impact your development team, so please send in your stories via Twitter: respond via Twitter!

PS –NPSP Product Managers: Over time, we’ve added handy dandy badges representing the different giving levels by using image formula fields. With the badges, development staff and volunteers have a simple visual cue to inform their real-time engagement with the client. Sounds like an idea for a future release to me!

The Tipping Point for Nonprofits Utilizing Salesforce

 

The Tipping Point for Nonprofits Utilizing Salesforce

The past three years have been incredibly exciting for nonprofits who utilize Salesforce to #LevelUp their development, volunteer, and programmatic operations.

tippingpoint1 In fact, the pace and breadth of change have been so spectacular that we are truly witnessing a Tipping Point in the evolution of Salesforce.org that will be felt for years.

Three distinct developments have contributed to this unique moment in time:

First, the Power of Us Hub launched in 2013.  This user-friendly online community quickly became the go-to resource for nonprofits utilizing Salesforce.  Did we mention it is 100% free!

Second, there was the revolutionary release of Cumulus (aka NPSP v.3) in 2014.  This upgrade re-aligned the architecture of the Nonprofit Starter Pack so that nonprofits could benefit more readily from the same features enjoyed by Fortune 500 companies.

In addition, the upgrade included goodies such as improved management of households, donations, and addresses as well as a centralized location for all NPSP settings and trigger management for the geeks out there.

Third, is the surprise release this week of the Nonprofit Success Pack, the successor to the original Nonprofit Starter Pack and first major upgrade of 2014’s Cumulus release.

According to Salesforce.org the Nonprofit Success Pack includes these new features to help nonprofits #LevelUp:

  • Campaign Advancements: Nonprofits can create personalized engagement plans that track the steps needed to engage with different types of donors and volunteers to improve fundraising and volunteerism. In addition, nonprofits can merge campaigns and reports to generate new groups that can be targeted with integrated marketing campaigns, helping nonprofits to engage more deeply with constituents.
  • Donor Management Advancements: New innovations that track employer matching programs, manage memorial gifts, and in-kind gifts so nonprofits can better manage their all of their donor relationships.
  • Constituent Levels: Nonprofits can create different levels of contact classification based on any number of variables (donations, volunteer hours, etc.) so that engagements can be tailored to many different kinds of supporters.
  • Lightning Ready: NPSP is built on Salesforce Lightning, providing a modern and intelligent user experience on any device, enabling nonprofits to work faster and smarter.
  • New Languages: NPSP is now available in three additional languages, Spanish, German and Japanese.

Source: http://www.salesforce.org/introducing-salesforce-nonprofit-success-pack

This is only the beginning according to Kevin Bromer, VP of Product Delivery at Salesforce.org, “We release a new version of the Nonprofit Starter Pack every two weeks and that’s a real part of our commitment to keep the product on the cutting edge.”

Of course, with so much positive change coming so quickly it can be tough to keep up and ensure your nonprofit is getting the most out of its investment.tippingpoint2

As always, we encourage nonprofits to stay on top of new developments through participation in the Power of Us Hub; however, if your nonprofit needs a little – or a lot – of extra help Now IT Matters will be here to assist.

 

 

Excuse me while I go full nerd.

Noob Over the coming weeks, some exciting news will be coming from Salesforce.org (shhh...it’s still a secret). In anticipation, those of us at Now IT Matters started talking about “Leveling Up.” Instantly, I recalled my younger years of playing video games and how I would “ Level Up.”

rightarrowWhen I was just a young Salesforce Noob (this is gamerspeak for “Newbie”), you could think of me as this guy: new to the game, zero skills and no idea where to go.

Things started to change when I was introduced to some tools for my quest: the Power of Us Hub, the Salesforce Success Community, and the myriad of bloggers, tweeters and podcasters among cyberspace2.  

leftarrowPretty soon, I leveled up and got my Administrator Certification.  

And then, I felt more like this guy.

As I discovered more about the amazing ways to configure Salesforce I  trained myself on a little quest with the support of my coworkers and the Salesforce community. With each new skill,  release under my belt or Salesforce certification, I leveled up even more. levelup

Sure, I’ve have much to learn and have a long way to go, but I don’t see this Salesforce quest as ever being “Game Over.” Why? Because Salesforce is constantly innovating by adding so many different products and platforms and I know I have more time to #LevelUp.

And so do you.  

Now, I know sometimes it can be daunting. You’re running from a special event to a board meeting, then to a crisis with a client and back again. It probably feels as if  you barely have time to complete your day to day work, not to mention the new responsibilities received from your last meeting. It seems honing your Salesforce skills is not a priority.

However, think about this: if you could save just one hour a week by automating some arduous or tedious task using Salesforce would you do it? If so, that’s 52 hours a year you could be doing the parts of your job which you love the most. Would it be worth calling another donor to tell him about the work that your nonprofit is doing? Would it benefit you to spend more time with the client who is demanding face-to-face attention? Of course it would.

Salesforce can be so much more than just your “database.” It can be the center of collaboration, communication and, ultimately, the reason for your success.  

  • Run your programs directly from Salesforce;
  • Drive program and employee performance through solid metrics in reports and dashboards;
  • Engage with each other over Chatter; or
  • Open up your organization by using Salesforce Communities, then inviting  donors, volunteers or clients to communicate with each other.

The same tools which  helped me #LevelUp are now available to you, too. To take advantage of the toolset you can:

  • Join your local Nonprofit User Group - Connect with other nonprofit Salesforce users and learn from them, the resources they offer and the guest speakers they invite.
  • Complete a Trailhead trail - It’s a fun training program that can teach you Salesforce Basics all the way through Advanced Apex!
  • Get on Twitter - Although it may sound strange some of the most amazing Salesforce users out there are actively engaged on Twitter by sharing best practices, tips and tricks and more.

So, if you’re stuck and not sure what to do, how to do it or even if you should, then give us a call.   

We’ll help your organization to #LevelUp.

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#LevelUp with NiM this Fall!

#LevelUp with NiM this Fall!

Every fall I find myself ready to “level up” - to improve my game in work and life.

Perhaps it’s a byproduct of life being divided into semesters for so many years, but without fail, I’m hit with an infusion of inspiration around the time that school starts.

For many years, I tried to resist starting new endeavors in September.

Couldn’t I tackle my goals and achieve the same success in February?

Turns out the answer is a resounding NO!

With time, I’ve surrendered to, and have come to embrace, this rhythm.

So, when the school supplies start filling the stores and the air turns a tad cooler... I pay attention: it’s prime time for professional growth! 

Recently, I’ve been asking myself:

What personal and professional goals can I jumpstart in the fourth quarter and achieve this coming year?

How can I align my professional goals to benefit #TeamNiM and our clients?

Changes to the Salesforce Ecosystem and the Role of Consultants

Like me, our Executive Team tries to pay attention to patterns and trends, too. We've been discussing NiM’s history and identifying game-changers in the Salesforce ecosystem for nonprofits since our inception. Included in that list are the introduction of the Power of Us Hub, Girlforce, NPSP3, and Trailhead! These are some mighty big changes!

I recall having conversations in 2013 with stakeholders who had never heard of Salesforce. Fast forward to today, when most of our clients have legacy CRM solutions - and are eager for change. For some nonprofits, use of a CRM solution has highlighted the fact that their business processes need adjustment. For others, their business processes are first-rate and they desire a CRM solution that can be customized to better match their needs.

Either way, by the time most new clients approach us now, they’re convinced Salesforce is the solution for them and they’ve already…

  • Initiated a new instance of Salesforce
  • Installed the NPSP
  • Applied for the Power of Us grant
  • Logged in to the Power of Us Hub, and
  • Taken a Trailhead module or two!

Nonprofit Salesforce professionals are equipped with tools and resources unlike any they’ve had before. Exciting enhancements on the horizon point to increased collaboration, community building, and real-time constituent engagement to drive social impact.

Given all of the changes in the ecosystem, has the role of consultants changed, too?

We think the answer is yes, and wonder - 

Instead of needing an expert to do “all the Salesforce things”, do clients need a personal trainer?  

Someone who will:

  • Ask important questions and strategically advance the organization’s mission?
  • Equip Salesforce Admins to accelerate their own learning and realize their full potential?
  • Support and challenge clients as they level up?

Level Up

From day one, our mission has been “to be a sustainable company that makes the world a better place by increasing the capacity of nonprofits through the development of brilliant staff.”

When Tim wrote that mission, he was originally thinking of NiM’s own staff. Equipping NiM staff to level up has always been a core company value. But, our mission and methodology support equipping nonprofits and their Salesforce Admins to level up, too!

The more we’ve considered being a personal trainer who equips nonprofits and nonprofit Admins to level up, the more excited we’ve become.

From now until Dreamforce, #TeamNiM will be sharing what #LevelUp means to them and their goals to #LevelUp. Along the way, I’ll share our plans for NiM to #LevelUp as well.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you:

What is your organization doing to #LevelUp? (Tweet your answer)

What goals do you have as an #AwesomeAdmin? (Tweet your answer)

How should NiM #LevelUp in our role as your #LevelUp Partner? (Tweet your answer)