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Insights on Integrating Nonprofit Technology from a Salesforce.org Leader

Introduction – Integrating Nonprofit Technology

Over the past 20 years, Omatic Software has partnered with thousands of nonprofits to support their data integration needs – and help them drive mission impact through accurate and complete data.  

In that time, technological innovation has flourished, accompanied by significant transformation in consumer expectations and business operations. Amidst these changes, we’ve seen nonprofits adopt more and more technology to fulfill their needs and engage supporters.  

In fact, our latest white paper, Opportunity and Obstacles: Integrating Best-in-Class Nonprofit Technology, discusses the benefits and challenges associated with this approach. As we researched the white paper, we interviewed experts across the industry, and wanted to share some additional perspective from our conversation with Dustin Pitts, Senior Manager of Solution Engineering at Salesforce.org.  

Dustin has worked in the nonprofit technology space for the past 17 years, holding roles in customer support, data modeling, implementation consulting, and project management. He currently leads a team of solution engineers that demonstrate how nonprofits can use Salesforce to power their missions. Keep reading for his expert insights on nonprofit technology!  

Question and Answer – Insights from a Salesforce.org Leader 

Q: Over the last few decades, evolving technology has changed consumer behavior and expectations. What do you see as the biggest implications for nonprofits? 

A: Digital transformation related to the donor experience is the key theme of almost every conversation I have with a nonprofit. Donors expect their experience with nonprofits to be like the experiences they have with for-profit companies.  

The nonprofit knowing donors and their preferences has become table stakes. And the days of batch and blast emails and generic direct mail are gone. Savvy nonprofits have modified their communication practices to speak to a donor’s preferences at the right time and in the right way. 

Donors also want to interact with the nonprofit in a way that works best for them. This applies to simple things like donating via mobile or more complex use cases, such as donor portals or SMS text support. Providing these types of tools to constituents is quickly moving from nice-to-have to mandatory. 

Finally, donors want to donate in the most up-to-date and new mediums. We are seeing huge growth in social fundraising (for example, Facebook, GoFundMe, etc.), online gaming, and events. Bringing all the data from these tools together is the biggest challenge for most of the customers I work with. From a data standpoint, I highly suggest selecting a CRM that allows data to be easily imported from the “next new thing.” 

Q: When shopping for best-in-class technology, what recommendations do you have for organizations? What are the most important things nonprofits should look for during an evaluation process for new technology? 

The biggest piece of advice I have is to define up front the scope of your IT projects. With best-in-class platforms, there are so many options for implementations. Knowing that, it is important to define up front what you are trying to do at this current phase. Once you have the scope defined, then it is simple to build out what you want. You will have the option to expand the scope in additional phases. 

Also, select a platform that will enable your organization to grow and adapt in changing times. Nonprofits operate in dynamic conditions. Technology should enable your organization to pivot and scale operations to address the needs of your stakeholders. 

Q: As a follow-up, could you talk a little more about how technology enables an organization to respond to changes in the cultural or economic landscape, such as a pandemic or recession? 

I see technology as a tool in a nonprofit’s toolbox. When faced with changes in cultural or economic landscapes, nonprofits have a choice in tools they use to adapt. The organizations that successfully adapt are those who quickly use technology to stand up new programs or fundraising avenues.  

Technology can be extremely helpful or hampering with these quick pivots. If an organization has antiquated tools, it’s unlikely they will quickly pivot. Those on modern, open platforms can do so easily. I feel this is one of the top reasons we now have more than 40,000 organizations using the Salesforce platform. 

Q: When integrating ancillary technologies with Salesforce, what should organizations consider? For example, what best practices would you recommend, or are there any pitfalls that can be avoided? 

I would focus on how you will be using the data you are integrating. Prioritize the data that help you to make business decisions or data that helps make your constituents’ lives easier.  

Regarding pitfalls, duplicates are a risk when talking about integrations. Be sure that your integrations are designed in a way that ensures duplicate checks are in place.  

Q: Understanding that organizations are likely at different places in their technology journey, do you have any advice for nonprofits that are (1) veterans and have used multiple technologies to power their operations and fundraising efforts for many years, or (2) new and looking to bring in new technology? 

My advice is actually quite similar for both groups. For veterans, think about your donor experience and define areas that need work. Focus on those first; then revisit the others later. 

For organizations that are shopping for new technology, like veterans, the primary focus should be your donor experience. Do not force donors to suffer because of your internal processes. Change your processes to meet the needs of your donors. 

Key Takeaway – Focus on Donor Experience

This conversation with Dustin was so packed with great insights and advice, it’s hard to choose one or two key takeaways, but I’d like to end where he began:  

“Donors expect their experience with nonprofits to be like the experiences they have with for-profit companies…Savvy nonprofits have modified their communication practices to speak to a donor’s preferences at the right time and in the right way.” And as he highlights again at the end of our interview: “The primary focus should be your donor experience.” 

The personalized relationship donors expect requires data. And, increasingly, that data is housed in multiple technologies. For nonprofits to achieve the complete and accurate picture of supporters needed to personalize engagement, they need to integrate their best-in-class technologies and CRM.   

A special thanks to Dustin for a great interview. If you’d like to connect with him, you can find Dustin on LinkedIn

Take a look at our Checklist for Integrating Best-in-Class Nonprofit Technology with Salesforce to learn more about integrating your nonprofit data, or sign-up for a demo below. (Tip: Be sure to check out how we handle duplicates!)

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