How to Handle Memberships in the Salesforce Nonprofit Starter Pack

By September 12, 2013CRM & Salesforce

NPSP_Logo_SmallMembership is one of those features of the Nonprofit Starter Pack that seems to be shrouded in mystery. Sure, you’ve read the getting started guide and you have all the fields on your screens, but how do you actually manage your membership lifecycle using the NPSP?

The key is understanding that the NPSP is relatively passive out of the box – when you create a new membership donation, and enter dates in the Membership Start and Membership End date fields and choose a Membership Level and Membership Origin, those dates and selections will get copied up to the contact’s record.  But they won’t get carried over into next year’s membership update automatically.

Give it a try:

  • Add a new membership donation, set the end date to 1/1/2013. Make sure the amount is more than $0, and the stage is Posted (or an equivalent Closed/Won stage in your system).
  • Go take a look at the contact who got the new membership. Their start date should be today, and their end date should be 1/1/2013.
  • Now click “New Contact Donation” from your contact screen.
  • Select your Membership record type to add another membership donation for this member.
  • Now set the end date to 1/1/2014. Make sure the amount is more than $0 and the stage is Posted.
  • Take a look at your contact record again – the start date should not have changed, but the end date will be set to 1/1/2014.

Well that’s great, but what about next year when the member renews? Out of the box, you will need to copy down the end date from your contact screen, create a new donation, and manually add a year (or whatever your membership term is) to the End Date on the donation. Not as useful as we might want.

What most organizations want the Membership module to do is automatically take the start and end date (and maybe the membership level too) from the Contact record, and have Salesforce do the thinking about whether this is a new or renewal membership, decide whether there’s a gap between the end date and today, and automatically populate the new Membership donation with the right information.

The good news is you can do that, and customize it to your organization’s rules around Membership management!

Did you know you can create your own custom buttons in Salesforce? They are really useful if you want to automatically populate a new record with data, but they can be a little intimidating to set up if you’re not a tech geek. Take a look at our Create New Membership Button Technical Brief  for a step-by-step recipe, and don’t be nervous. If you can follow a recipe, you can create a button using the Tech Brief, and you can always ask us if you get stuck.

Adding this button is Admin Ninja Level: medium.  Set aside some focus time to do this if you’ve never set up a Salesforce button before, or if you aren’t familiar with digging into HTML source.

Why spend the time?

  • Instead of having to write down all the stuff that’s kept on the Contact record and make sure you get all the new dates and levels right when you create the new donation, the button just does it for you.
  • You only have to set up the button once, but you save time on every membership you enter.
  • Using a button ensures data integrity!  And when your data is clean, you can trust it enough to set up an automated Email Notification so that you don’t waste precious staff time sending out membership reminder emails – the system will do it for you.

The button will let you manage memberships through manual data input, but what do you do when you have online donations? We’re working on a step-by-step guide for Click & Pledge users, but we’d love to hear your solutions too.

Allan Huntley

Author Allan Huntley

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