How can Not-For-Profits benefit from the Salesforce.com platform?

Salesforce.com is the platform powering some of the most advanced and innovative businesses on the planet today – Facebook, Google, Coca-Cola. You may be surprised to know that Salesforce.com Not-for-Profits platform brings the same technology behind these multi-million dollar enterprises entirely within the scope of a charity budget.

That’s because as a charity you can have Salesforce.com for free.

Your organisation is entitled to 10 free licences, for ever (no fear of suddenly being hit by a nasty surprise invoice in year two) and you will have access to exactly the same technology infrastructure that plays host to the world’s most powerful organisations.

You may well also be thinking that bringing in a state-of-the-art technology platform on which to run your organisation is probably overkill – particularly if your model is fairly straightforward. Again there’s more good news: The Salesforce platform can be as complex or as simple as you want to make it, so if you don’t fancy managing something with all the bells and whistles, then you don’t have to. The Salesforce Not-For-Profit Starter Pack has been designed with the most common NFP requirements in mind and you while there is no such thing really, as an ‘out of the box’ Salesforce implementation, this could well come quite close.

That’s the message that we hoped we delivered at our Forcewest business breakfast on the Glass Boat this morning. We had some great Bristol-based charities that joined us for the event, some of whom up were already up and running on Salesforce, and some at the point of evaluating their next steps.

Here are some of the questions and answers that came up

How do I get access to my 10 free licenses?

Go to Salesforce.org and click on the free trial button. On the next screen click on the ‘TRY IT NOT FOR PROFIT (30 days free)’ free button. You can access your entitlement to your 10 free licenses as soon as you would like, and will need to provide your registered charity number.

How do I get setup in Salesforce initially once I have my licences?

Although the Not For Profit starter pack will walk you through a simple implementation, the ideal way to get started on the platform is with a ‘Quick Start’ program. Take a look at this example of the program we run for clients (not specifically for NFPs), to get an idea of what happens during this process, timings and typical costs.

Most Salesforce consulting partners will run an implementation service of this type and you can find a list of registered consulting partners via the Salesforce AppExchange. There will be a charge for this service although most consultancies do offer a discounted NFP rate.

There are also many Salesforce consultants out there in the community who will take on charities and help them on a pro bono basis, as part of their commitment to the Salesforce 1-1-1 model.  You can post on your local Salesforce User Group community page (here is a link to Bristol) and ask if there is anyone who is looking to help a charity in this way. The Salesforce community is an amazing resource and news travels fast…

What free training resources are available?

Of course becoming proficient at managing your own Salesforce instance would be a huge advantage, and Salesforce have a very effective training tool called Trailhead. All learning is broken down into manageable chunks, with a Q&A recap section at the end. There are trails specifically for NFPs e.g. managing your volunteers.

What would a support package look like?

Ideally you would set up a support package with a registered Salesforce partner. Typically you would pay a monthly fee, and that would entitle you to set number of hours that you could call in whenever you need them. In this way you know that you can pick up the phone and speak to someone, rather than staying stuck on a problem. Support packages can range in price, typically from a £100 per hour timebank style solution (the equivalent of pay as you go), to an unlimited annual package which could be around £12k per annum. Different consultancies have different price points for support and it’s a good idea to shop around – again use the AppExchange to help you in your research.

Where can I get more information and help working on the Salesforce.com platform?

Local user groups are a great way to meet others working on the platform, and keep up to date with platform announcements. There are user groups specifically for NFPS too, take a look here for a list of all UK groups. Even if you can’t attend a group, can you always post specific questions to the Salesforce Success Community and expect detailed answers.

Of course, you can always Google solutions to problems  – the answer will be out there!  

What are the best email tools to integrate with Salesforce.com for NFPs?

There are many different email tools on the market. The best one for you really depends on your requirements. MailChimp does integrate with Salesforce, but we often recommend Campaign Monitor as a very reasonably priced, well designed tool that integrates well with Salesforce. You can also use this app for some fairly simple triggered campaign (marketing automation). The next step up from there would be Dotmailer – more expensive but more functionality (this is the one we use at Desynit). After that there are some incredibly advanced Marketing Automation tools on the market e.g ExactTarget, HubSpot, if you have more complex communication and automation requirements. Again take a look on the Salesforce AppExchange.

Which financial packages would you recommend to work with Salesforce?

Xero and QuickBooks both integrate with Salesforce using the Breadwinner integration tool set. Integrating from Sage however could be an expensive endeavour at present. Salesforce are working on a deal with Sage though and watch this space, as there are signs that a these two platforms are set to become much more tightly integrated as standard, straight out of the box. If you can live with a bit of manual processing for the moment, simply download your transactions from Sage as a CSV file and upload to Salesforce.

Are there any other free technology resources I can access as a NFP?

Take a look at Technology Trust. There are a number of tools here and free licences that you will be able to access for free as a charity.


If you have more questions on getting started on Salesforce, please do leave us a comment on this blog post and we’ll get back to you with an answer. The main challenge of running an effective Not-For-Profits organisation should not be related to the platform it runs on. Adopting Salesforce means that any charity can have good systems that work properly and help them deliver their mission, and that’s a message we are keen to share.

Salesforce for Not-For-Profts
By Amy Grenham
23 May 2017
ForcewestThe Good Systems Blog

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