Salesforce NPSP Data Integration: Three Considerations before Implementation

Apr 10, 2023

Salesforce NPSP: A Powerful Solution for Modern Nonprofits

Amidst increased competition and evolving supporter expectations, modern nonprofits must operate much like their for-profit counterparts. Organizations are challenged to increase efficiency and streamline operations, while also offering diverse fundraising activities and implementing marketing tactics to attract and retain supporters. With some of these efforts seemingly at odds with each other, organizations are seeking new technology solutions to help.

It’s no surprise that more nonprofits are turning to a solution with roots in the for-profit world – Salesforce. Combining Salesforce’s extensive customer relationship management (CRM) expertise with powerful fundraising, program management, and marketing features tailored to nonprofits, Salesforce.org’s Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) supports over 47,000 organizations around the world.

Chanler Cox, nonprofit technology expert and Omatic’s Director of Enterprise Sales, recently explained one of the reasons he’s seeing organizations implement Salesforce:

Nonprofit organizations are using more technology and tools than ever before to keep up. But as they add to their technology stacks, many have lost control of their data. We talk to a lot of organizations that have implemented Salesforce with the goal of consolidating constituent data, as most third-party apps and technologies tout Salesforce integration. Unfortunately, integration doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, and organizations often run into unexpected challenges.

Keep reading to explore the top three things organizations wish they knew before implementing Salesforce.

#1: Start with a data management strategy.

A nonprofit organization’s data is one of the most valuable assets it has. Data represents important information about an organization’s constituents and activities, playing a vital role in strategic decision-making. However, organizations acquire, store, manage, and use data in different ways. Consider, for example, how the needs of a museum, a church, and a cause and cure organization might vary.

Salesforce is a complex solution with considerable options for customization based on an organization’s specific needs. Customizability can be very powerful; however, to harness that power, an organization must have a solid understanding of its requirements. With multiple systems feeding data into Salesforce, organizations need to understand best practices for where data will be stored and the workflows for how it will be transferred:

  • How will the data be mapped from each system into the appropriate fields within Salesforce?
  • Can I pull in data the same way for each system that I use, and how can I standardize the way data is transformed and presented once it’s in Salesforce?
  • How can I preserve data integrity and ensure data will not be overwritten or duplicated?

It’s critical for organizations to determine how the data will be accessed, determine how the data will be accessed and used. For nonprofits to maximize their Salesforce investment, all these requirements should be gathered and understood prior to implementation.

#2: Native integrations aren’t always best for data visibility and cleanliness.

Salesforce’s open application programming interface (API) library allows third-party application providers to connect their systems with the CRM. However, as noted previously, data integration doesn’t mean the same thing to all these providers. While many third-party applications advertise their ability to integrate with Salesforce, native integrations are often limited in terms of features, such as duplicate criteria and flexible field mapping. Many native integrations provide limited control to organizations over the automated transfer of data, sometimes leading to unintentional overwriting of data. As a result, these limitations can actually introduce, rather than resolve, duplicate records and other data errors.

In addition, complete integration requires that data flows in both directions – from third-party systems into Salesforce, and from Salesforce back to those systems. This bi-directional flow of data is essential to creating a complete picture of supporter activity, but many native integrations only support a one-way flow of data from the application into Salesforce.

Although native integrations are often popular due to the low cost and ease of implementation, organizations should explore the functionality of these integrations to avoid confusion and negative downstream data impacts.

#3: Custom integrations can be time-consuming and expensive.

Open APIs also allow organizations to have custom integrations built. In theory, this means an organization could integrate data from any source with Salesforce. However, custom integrations are extremely resource-intensive and expensive to build. For organizations without a robust IT or Technology team, this can mean engaging in an extensive project with an agency or developer.

Further, custom integrations are at risk of breaking frequently, (for example, as new Salesforce releases are launched). Teams then waste even more time and resources attempting to resolve issues when custom integrations break, and during this time, teams no longer have access to the most up-to-date and accurate data. Custom integrations a huge investment in time and resources, and the required ongoing maintenance makes this approach unsustainable for many organizations in the long-term.

Conclusion

While Salesforce is a robust and powerful solution for nonprofits, organizations need to do their due diligence before implementation to map out their requirements and understand what exactly they can (and can’t) accomplish through native and custom integrations.

In cases where an organization’s data visibility and cleanliness needs cannot be achieved through these integrations alone, Omatic Cloud is here to help. Built on over 20 years of experience with nonprofit data import and integration experience, Omatic Cloud is an intelligent data integration platform that supports all file types and formats, corrects data while en route, prevents duplicates, and frees up hours of time.

If you’d like to learn more, sign up for a demo below! Or, for additional resources on integrating nonprofit applications with Salesforce, check out our and Salesforce Integration Gamechangers blog.

Omatic Software
Omatic Software is dedicated to integrating disparate systems and democratizing data access for today’s nonprofits. Founded in 2002, Omatic has worked with thousands of nonprofits globally to remove their data barriers by integrating systems and enabling nonprofit teams to leverage their donor data rather than be burdened by it. The Omatic team has one goal – unleashing the power of data to show a complete view of your donor, enabling data-driven decision making and opportunity creation for your organization.

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