Why we’re focusing on NPSP – Non-Profit Success Pack and not other NGO-centered Salesforce based packages

A question I hear a lot from organizations not yet using Salesforce, and unfortunately ones that already are involves the difference between NPSP and other packages that support non-profits specifically.  The difference is very important as in most cases it goes down to an organization making a decision that they want to choose a tool that’s built on the Salesforce platform vs a tool that simply adds in a few specific general tools to Salesforce that non-profits may or may not want to use.

When we think of Salesforce many users are sold on the limitless customization possible with minimal expensive custom development.  NPSP embraces this notion by not offering a full blown solution but instead some basic common features that you will need to customize on your own.  With this power comes great responsibility.  Other solutions are focused on you getting the most out of their enhancements usually at the cost of the overall flexibility benefits out of box Salesforce provides.

Let’s start with features that exist across all Salesforce-based solutions with exceptions for very specific needs.

  1. You will not have to install or maintain specialized hardware.
  2. You will not have to invest in extra security hardware/software.
  3. You will be able to access the system from any internet connection.
  4. You will be able to access the system from any modern internet browser and device.
  5. You will be able to know more about your constituents from a single place.
  6. You will have more automated processes than before
  7. You will have more and more powerful options for communicating with constituents.
  8. You will have better collaboration tools for your staff to focus on external relations.
  9. System downtime will be minimal.
  10. The platform will be enhanced 3x per year.

When choosing an All-In-One Solution:

  1. You cannot assume any feature not listed in the solution providers website will be possible.
    • Many packaged solutions heavily customize the standard objects in Salesforce, and it becomes hard to add more customization on top of the installed product.  You could also violate agreements with the provider and the support package they offer if you try
    • Integrating multiple systems is usually far more costly than maintaining a single system
  2. A feature may initially meet your needs, but it’s not guaranteed to work when your expectations change.
    • An all-in-one solution will come with supported upgrades that look more like traditional software roll-outs
    • Many providers offer customization paths at extra fees
  3. The dollars spent on support of the system could be more fixed and manageable especially if what it’s use has limited scope.
    • For example, some of the solutions are geared towards very specific fundraising scenarios that do not change often.  Overall value is realized by paying for external implementation and support of a stable product in this case.

Overall if what is sold closely matches your need it could reduce labor costs and system problems in the long run.  For example, if you decided on  NGOConnect or FoundationConnect to manage events and online giving or grant management at a traditional org, resources that would have been otherwise used for system maintenance could be directed towards better solutions and staff to manage data reporting and analysis. Something Salesforce will never be best at with any level of customization.

When choosing a more open and customizable solution like NPSP:

  1. You will need to decide on how you implement the initial solution and what resources you will commit to maintaining and enhancing the system year over year.
  2. A single wrong decision on #1 could have very high costs:
    • Experienced Salesforce administrators are hard to come by if you plan on making significant additions to functionality year over year
    • An implementation too highly customized will require expensive developer time year over year just to keep the system maintained
    • It is rarely in the interest of an outside consultant to implement and never return for more service fees
    • Admin security and data governance can quickly go awry if staff roles and responsibilities are unclear
    • User experience can easily suffer under an administrator who is not capable or not dedicated to that function
    • Outside support may come from many different places with contradictory advice and non-overlapping fees
  3. You have true ownership over your system and the data in it.
    • Many packaged solutions will make it challenging and expensive to uninstall and switch to a different solution.
  4. You will be responsible for maintaining system updates for anything you’ve rolled out.
    • Likely problem if you’ve customized using code.  That said, platform features come and go so you would need to be prepared to keep the lights on if a security patch or add-on needs reconfiguration or replacement.

If your needs are small or you don’t know what they are overall, you may find more success in hiring staff dedicated to administering the system or just living with a very minimal setup for now that measures and manages basic needs.

In either case, it’s a tough decision, and you should first ask if Salesforce or any CRM is right for you at all.  If you currently operate on four spreadsheets with two staff members Salesforce can quickly become more of a burden than a tool.  Donated does not equal free.  $30,000 worth of technology is worthless if it does nothing but take up your precious time.

NPSP is community driven, and there is no set profitability assigned to the product other than making the world a better place.  Hopefully, some of the content on this site will also help those using large packages, just want to make sure no one is counting on that.

Use Chrome Extensions to speed up your Salesforce Admin-ing

As a Salesforce Admin, you’re always looking for ways to save your users a few clicks.  Do you do this for yourself as well?

Here are some handy Chrome Add-Ons that can get you through the day with fewer clicks and fewer open tabs.



You need to download your 34 backup files one at a time every week.

You need to open 12 records in a list view.

Traditional Procedure: (Number of links equal # of clicks)

Move mouse Ctrl-Click to open new tab, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat…

How LinkClump Transforms your Process & Saves you Time:

With Linkclump – Just right click and drag your links

and it opens new tabs instantly.


Scenario: You need to open 12 records from a report as new tabs. (1 click , 1 drag)

See above! GTD!

Note:  I’ve noticed LinkClump sometimes interferes with web apps specifically ones that allow you to right-click to export using a custom embedded web-app menu.  All Chrome Apps come with a couple of gotchas here and there.

Quick Login As


You need to masquerade as several users to do some testing.

Traditional Procedure: (10 clicks)

Search for the user, navigate to the user record, select user detail, select login, find the tab you had open and refresh it for the user.

How Quick Login Transforms your Process & Saves you Time: (4 clicks)

With Quick Login As – click the app icon. selectuser1

Use an existing list view or search for user.

Login As

Select Login.

Salesforce API Fieldnames


You’re on a detail record and quickly need the API name of a field for a formula or other code.

Traditional Procedure: (20 to 60 clicks)

Navigate to the force.com admin side panel.

Select view fields.

Search for the field.

Copy the API name.

How Salesforce API Fieldnames Transforms your Process & Saves you Time: (1 click)

Click the API Fieldnames app icon. quickapi1

Field labels on the page transform to API names.

Copy the name right off the page layout.
SF API Fieldnames.2

Salesforce.com Id Clipper


You need the 18-digit record ID for a record in a list view, report, search results page, or on the record detail page.

Traditional Scenario: (A whole lot of clicks, pain relievers on hand)

Modify a report to include the 15-digit record ID or change a page layout to include the ID, then convert the ID into an 18-digit record ID using a third party website or excel plugin.

How the ID Clipper Transforms your Process and Saves you Time: (2-3 clicks)

On a record detail page, click the scissors oncescissors to copy the 15-digit ID to your clipboard, twice to copy the 18-digit ID, and three times to copy the entire URL.

We’d love to hear from you: what are your favorite extensions that save you time? Share with us in the comments below!


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