You want to be careful with using affiliations to record everything that relates a contact and an organization. While having structured relational data has powerful potential, it can create complexity you don’t need. In some cases, relationships would be better handled by a field update or even a note.
Examples where affiliations may be overdoing it:
- You only participate in grassroots fundraising and the employers of your funders is unimportant or too much data to be worth managing
- Your program is not centered around individuals, where they work or a need to leverage those extra accounts
- There are a very limited number of possibilities for account relationships
- A picklist of 4 possible unions is quicker and easier to manage
- You only care about the level of degree achieved not the actual volume of graduates from a particular school
- Managing account data, especially duplicate accounts is too risky at this time
- You want to be very careful about how much data storage you are using, you may already use the org to contact model rather than the household model for this reason
Assuming you’ve thought about all that and you feel it’s important to record at least some of the information using affiliations, decide on a design for customizing the affiliation record. Salesforce and NPSP offer a lot of power and customization, but always make sure your focused on what’s critical to your outcomes vs what looks like a cool design or covers every odd scenario.
It’s always best to diagram your model out and share it with your business teams. Be sure you and each business team are challenging each other to capture critical information in a structured (report-able) way while balancing the capacity for data entry and system training.
Here are some suggestions:
- Type: If you’re categorizing affiliations broadly, employment, education, volunteering, decide if a type field would suffice or a record type.
- Type – a required field that simply splits out the object into broad categories.
- Record Type – a required field that forces you to manage a whole new set of permissions, page layouts. It also changes the available picklist values. It’s strongly recommended you start with a simple type and move to a record type only when you absolutely need it. Read more Record Type Steps
- Role – NPSP comes with this text field. Decide if this text field is useful at all, it’s quite up to you how to use it.
- Title: If you plan on recording a job title, you can use the Role field, but be mindful you should hide the Title field on the contact or use a solution to populate or calculate (LINK) it.
- Other custom affiliation fields that could be useful.
- If you’re training people on the job, you may want to relate your training (custom solution) to the job (affiliation)
- The manager, program director or some other contact that influences this affiliation
- A reason the affiliation ended
- Examples of validations to ensure important data is entered
- Type and starting grade level are required when linking to school accounts only
- Job role/title and job level is required when entering employment type affiliations
- A start date is required for programmatic affiliations
- The start date should never come after the end date
Cookbook – Strengthen NPSP affiliations management