Play in the Sandbox for (Salesforce) Safety

USE A SANDBOX TO AVOID COSTLY MISTAKES Did you ever have one of those moments where you wished that your life had an “Undo” button?  Of course you did! Maybe it was when you did something stupid, or when you crumpled a fender trying to squeeze into a parking place. Clients often assume that Salesforce has one too, and they blunder ahead without fear. The bad news is that Salesforce does NOT have an Undo button. Why not? As an online platform, it really can’t: once a command is sent to the server in Seattle or Atlanta or Kuala Lumpur, one cannot retrieve it. However, Salesforce does have something that’s just as good as an Undo button: it’s called a Sandbox. A Sandbox allows you to test out changes to your Salesforce without affecting your data. Once you get the Sandbox working, you can reproduce it in your organization’s Salesforce account (called Production) and Voila! You’ve created your own Salesforce Undo button. Types of Sandboxes When you create a Salesforce account, your organization automatically receives a certain number of Sandboxes. If you have created a Salesforce instance recently, you will be able to set up the following four types of Sandboxes as part of your instance (three of which are free of charge): Developer (30 available): This type of Sandbox is adequate for most purposes. It is an empty version of your Production Salesforce; it contains all the objects and fields but none of the data.   Developer Pro (1 available): Developer Pro includes customizations like dashboards and report types that you have created in Production, which is not...

Think Like Einstein: Unlock Salesforce’s Capacity

When I was a kid, one of the scientific-sounding myths that stuck with me was that the average human “only” employs 10% of their brain, while geniuses like Albert Einstein utilize up to 20%. If your organization is using Salesforce only as a development tool, you are only tapping into a very small percentage – perhaps only 10% – of your Salesforce capacity. It is easy to forget that Salesforce is primarily a CRM (Constituent Relationship Manager). So many nonprofit users focus exclusively on its formidable suite of tools for tracking all types of financial transactions. Use Salesforce to Synchronize Data Across the Entire Organization When used correctly, Salesforce synchronizes all your agency’s departments. Best of all, it streamlines the process of mass uploading data to Salesforce from other databases. Just about every product on the market can produce your current data into CSV (Comma Separated Value) format, which is the data type that Salesforce reads. In our work, we’ve found that most development contacts are not cross-referenced across the organization. For every Annual Gala or fundraising event, there are donors who not only give but volunteer, too. To pull up a list of those who do both can be time-consuming and inefficient if you are using two different data systems. Five Minutes of Effort = Your Customized Report In a conventional development arrangement, you’d first go to the Development Director to get a list of everyone who donated, and then go to the Volunteer Director for his or her volunteer list. Someone would then have to manually cross-reference the lists. (We are already feeling your pain.) If you...

Starting from the Finish Line: Structuring Your Salesforce Instance

Using Salesforce successfully and efficiently long term depends on starting with a sturdy and adaptable structure. By strategically basing your Salesforce on your business processes, you can ensure proper and reliable data reporting and open a window into a high-level understanding of nonprofit organizational program outcomes, trends, financial benchmarks, and more. Building your Salesforce correctly requires capturing data with an eye to reporting on it, helping you achieve your nonprofit organization’s service and fundraising goals, and offering insights for organizational planning. At 501Partners, we approach our clients’ Salesforce structure with the mantra, “Plan the beginning with the end in mind.” We are sharing five of our “pro tips” to structure your instance correctly at the beginning, so you spend less time adjusting your reports, and get what is most valuable out of it in the end.  1, Understanding Reports and Objects: Make Sure Salesforce Knows What You Want Reporting is an essential part of your nonprofit’s success, and if used correctly, Salesforce can make what would normally be an exhausting process into just a few clicks of your mouse. Before you start reporting, however, be sure that you are asking for the right kinds of information and that you’re inputting and using the selected information correctly. All data in Salesforce is stored in separate “objects” (“tables” for people more familiar with conventional databases), and you use these objects to create reports. The objects that are most commonly used on the non-profit sector are Contacts (People), Accounts (Organizations), Opportunities (Donations) and Campaigns (Events).  When you create a report, make sure that you use the appropriate reporting template for what you...

The Cloud Doesn’t Always Have Your Back: Backing Up Your Salesforce Instance

Effective Salesforce use is often as much about habits as it is about technology. Here’s a habit every time-strapped, cash-conservative nonprofit organization should develop sooner rather than later: backing up your work. True story: when I was in graduate school, I had a big paper due to the end of the semester. Like most students, I waited untill the night before it was due. For hours, I sat typing away. As I  reached the final page, the lights in my apartment flickered. Power outage. The lights came back on, but you can guess what happened to my paper. I hadn’t saved any part of it along the way, so I paid the price of of re-typing the whole thing. “But wait a minute,” I hear you say. “Isn’t Salesforce in the cloud? Doesn’t my account get backed up on servers from Kansas City to Kuala Lampur? Why would I have to back it up manually?” True, Salesforce is in the cloud. True, it’s backed up automatically to different servers. But this is also true: when you make large changes to your Salesforce data, you’re stuck with the “last, best” version of your data. Even when it isn’t doing what you need it to do and you want to go back to the data set before that “last, best” version.  If that large change doesn’t turn out as envisioned, you’ll want to have your very “last, best” version of your data to fall back on when those large batch changes don’t quite work out. To be assured that you always have that version, always backup your data before loading a...

Spring Cleaning for Your Salesforce Instance with the FieldTrip App

Spring cleaning doesn’t just mean rearranging your storage closet anymore – it means cleaning out your work life too.  Emptying your inbox, reinvigorating your website, and yes– decluttering your Salesforce instance– are all part of your spring cleaning routine. Streamlining your instance is easy and mess-free with the Field Trip app, free on the app exchange. Field Trip is an easy to install, easy to use app that allows you to run reports of your records, effectively cleaning out unused fields. The FieldTrip analyses measure which fields your organization fills out consistently, and which ones are usually left blank. Armed with this valuable information, you can delete any field that goes unused from your objects, or focus on  filling them out. How to Use Field Trip After you’ve downloaded Field Trip, you can begin a new report by going to your new Field Trip tab. Click “New Field Trip,” then give your report a name. Finally, select which API you want to analyze.   Once you’ve completed these actions,  click “Save and Analyze.” This may take some time depending on how many records you have. You do not need to keep this screen open while the report processes. When Field Trip is done processing, you may view the results through a regular report. Go to your reports tab and create a new report. The report type is called “Field Trip with Field Analysis.” Click “Run Report.” Understanding at Your Field Trip Analysis Your Field Trip report will display  two columns, “Populated on” and “Populated on %.” The data within each column represent the hard numbers and the percent of...

MapAnything: Using Geo-Analytics to Boost Your Donations

MapAnything is an incredibly powerful and robust geo-analytics tool available to Salesforce users. It’s a visual tool that is ideal for marketing and development, with clear applications for team and business management. While MapAnything wasn’t specifically designed for nonprofits, it’s a very translatable utility. We’re big fans, and we want to tell you why. The number one reason we love this app is because you can pair geographic mapping tools with your Salesforce data and create a map of where your constituents and organizations are, and where your donations are coming from. It will help you identify clusters of large gift prospects (or donors, even better!), or look at where the highest concentration of donors live. You can capitalize on this data by holding an appreciation or fundraising event in that area. MapAnything can also streamline marketing efforts with targeted communication filters, or guide your event planning by considering prospect saturation. Outside of the office, MapAnything might assist you with planning a  route to your business meetings, while view real time traffic patterns to maximize your travel time. Typical questions that MapAnything is able to answer, simply, by connecting with your Salesforce instance: Our Executive Director is going to be in Los Angeles for 3 days. Who are our donors in that area that she could possibly meet with? We want to invite every constituent  within a 50-mile radius of Boston to our special event. How many people are we inviting and who are they? Where would a central location be to hold a conference for our constituents? If we were to target 3 cities to visit, which ones...