Five things to consider when switching to Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud

About a year ago, Salesforce introduced a major new product in their lineup for the philanthropy market. Previously, nonprofits had been serviced through a separate group that had stewarded the community and developed NonProfit Starter Pack (eventually the Success Pack or NPSP) and its related add-ons, such as GrantMaking, Accounting SubLedger, Outbound Funds, Volunteer Management, Batch Gift Entry and others. This had served the community well since 2009 but Salesforce felt now, with the acquisition of Vlocity and the formalization of the Industry Clouds, was the time to bring nonprofits back into the mothership as a first class industry supported by Salesforce. Hence, we saw the creation of Nonprofit Cloud, an all-new industry specific offering taking the best capabilities (but not all) of the previous products and reimplementing them using the Industry Cloud Common Components. This has meant several key breaking changes in the foundational concepts we are all used to.

While there are many considerations with moving to Nonprofit Cloud, several that we highlight are: moving to Person Accounts, new options for mass market gifts, relationship tracking, options for grant making, and ecosystem integrations.

Person Accounts

One of the larger shifts that you will need to undertake is a move from Contacts and Household Accounts or 1:1 Accounts to Person Accounts and the Party Group Model. Every individual you interact with will now be a Person Account (a combination of an Account and a Contact). This is inherited from the work that Salesforce has done for the past few years through multiple public sector implementations. These Person Accounts can be grouped together in many ways described below. While this pattern has become well established, it was formed to support relationships with individuals within the original strong B2B corporate sales model. Person Accounts align much more with the strong concept of Individuals that has been refined through both Health and Public Sector implementations.

Migrating your data requires several steps of exporting, transforming and importing your data. Some changes are needed to use different objects or to migrate custom fields to formulas or other objects as well. As this is key data rich with value, the field mappings between systems will be extensive.


Another significant change for organizations switching to Nonprofit Cloud will be that not every gift is treated as an Opportunity. Salesforce has now split an Opportunity from a Gift Transaction. This change aligns with a now clearer distinction between Mass Market Fundraising and High Touch Fundraising. So for a Mass Market scenario,we now have a Gift Transaction (similar to a Payment) but which can be standalone. The Opportunity remains for High Touch scenarios to track the stewardship of a grant, major gift or pledge with the associated activities and deliverables leading to a Gift Commitment, Schedule, Transactions, Designations, and Soft Credits. Much of the same functionality has been refined and upgraded to better meet the specific needs of different development teams rather than the one size fits all model of NPSP.

Moving to this will likely require mainly process changes along with some data transformation. Solicitors or gift administrators will make some changes in how they start an opportunity or record a gift. And some of the workarounds that were needed for NPSP may no longer be needed, leading to a simpler process.

Relationships & Affiliations

Tracking the connections between donors, their families, and their organizations has always been key for fundraising. There are many ways to do this in NPSP and many “tips” people have collected, but it has been a challenge. Nonprofit Cloud brings the experience that was gained from NPSP and from the Public Sector Industry to this challenge. A lot of functionality gets a new name but stays the same, and some functionality gets added. With the above move to Person Accounts, Households are no longer needed for all individuals. One-time donors or mass market donors may not need the overhead of establishing a family group. But for donors where households and connections are important, we now have Account Contact Relationships (Affiliations), Contact Contact Relationships (Relationships) and being added is Party Relationship Groups to model both household and non-household groups, like clubs or activities. All of this new structure does support a great new feature: the Actionable Relationship Center which allows you to view the relationships in a graph view across Contacts, Accounts, and Opportunities and be able to take action on related records all from one screen.

After the initial setup of these objects and the various picklists available, migrating to this structure is pretty straightforward with existing data. As mentioned, the structure is almost the same but with different names. And then all the new functionality is available to build on with your team and your constituents.

Grant making options

In addition to fundraising, Salesforce supports grant making through Nonprofit Cloud as well. There have been several tools available since foundationConnect was acquired in 2019, including Outbound Funds and NPSP GrantMaking. While these tools were great (foundationConnect is being retired), they were limited by some of the foundations of NPSP (and its initial orientation to fundraising) and by being community supported and outside official support. Salesforce has now launched a brand-new Nonprofit Cloud for Grantmaking. This includes new functionality for tracking programs and budgets along with new Customer Community support. The most exciting improvement with the addition of OmniStudio is a new framework for building forms, specifically grant applications. While many hours have been spent on this and many have turned to external form building tools, this new Application Framework provides a great opportunity to bring that into the core customer experience and provide a more seamless engagement while collecting the various structured and unstructured data that organizations want when evaluating a potential grant recipient.

This one will take some time to develop the skills and for the product to mature as Salesforce gets more feedback. In the meantime, external form builders are still supported and can still be integrated into Salesforce with the appropriate changes to any data model and field mappings needed. But the increased opportunity and flexibility that this tool provides is worth considering with a small form or a beta group as your familiarity is established.

Guidestar and NCOA Support

One of the most frequently used features of NPSP was its easy integration with both Guidestar and the National Change of Address (NCOA) systems for verifying tax status, retrieving IRS Form 990 information, and correcting addresses to properly formatted and up to date. At the initial release of Nonprofit Cloud, both of these features were not present and not on the roadmap. No fear; there are great partners in the ecosystem that provide integrations to these services and more, but it was nice to have them pre-packaged. Salesforce heard this and support for multiple addresses and seasonal address management appears to be returning along with an option for quickly integrating with Guidestar.

The action here is one of evaluating all of your integrations and surround systems for compatibility and functionality. The NPSP ecosystem is broad and deep and well established. Many of the major partners have already updated their tools to take advantage of this new platform, but some smaller outfits may decide not to make their tools available because of the technical changes or because of the direction that Salesforce is taking the platform.

Next steps

After all this, you want to know “Is this the right move?” It depends. You should consider both why to move and how to move.

NPSP is heavily embedded in many of your organizations and it and your processes have become intertwined. Support for NPSP continues and the product is not disappearing yet. Salesforce continues to shift their attention to Nonprofit Cloud, but the strong community that has always supported nonprofits continues. Anybody currently using NPSP can continue and plan a future at their own speed. Salesforce will be providing over the next several quarters more guidance on the specific steps in a migration process. Currently, switching to Nonprofit Cloud is only available by purchasing a new instance of Salesforce and migrating all of your data and processes into that new instance. This is a multi-step process of moderate complexity that will take a time commitment. There may be a potential for an in-place migration, with some caveats, in the future.

Switching to the new platform brings lots of enhancements (only some of which are mentioned above) and substantial plans for future growth. Already there is a large degree of parity between the platforms and many items on the roadmap along with the Vlocity tools such as Rollup Engine, Form Builder, and Document Generation providing even more new avenues for great functionality to be added.

How to get started? Reach out to DCS and we can discuss an assessment of your existing platform and processes in NPSP, why you might want to take advantage of some of the new tools in Nonproft Cloud and what it might take to make that move.