Let me explain right away: This article is not about how to use Salesforce to sell anything. Sounds kind of like those telemarketers, doesn't it? "I'm not trying to sell you anything, I'm just taking a survey." Right. Salesforce, like Google Apps, is available to non-profits for free, so I truly am not selling anything. I am writing this article to tell you about how I've set up Salesforce for our church to track membership and our offerings. This is part two of a two part series on Salesforce. To read part I, click here.
A Little More Detail
I think Salesforce is kind of amazing. It is incredibly simple to customize, yet the logic isn't broken. Upgrades, or improvements, are continuous. Every quarter Salesforce rolls out new features. How fun is it that you just wake up one day and you've got a bunch of cool new stuff in your program? Being in "the cloud" or accessed via the web gives it the same advantages as Google Apps and other cloud computing programs -- no hardware, no software, no upgrades, no backups. And, of course, being free is no small advantage!
Salesforce gives 10 free licenses to non-profits, and what they call the "Education" version of the program. Their pricing structure is based on a per user license. In our case 10 users is plenty, at least for now. The deacons use one login to enter the contributions from our offerings, the pastor has a login, myself and the other office administrator. As with other databases, we can all log in at once and, since it's in the cloud, we can log in from any computer.
You can do complex customizations with programming, but you can accomplish nearly anything you want to do by simply pointing and clicking. Salesforce comes with standard fields on each object. With most of those standard fields you can decide whether you want to use them or not, but there are some that you must use. I figure this is necessary in order to keep the integrity of the database logic. Still, you can do a lot of customization. You can add or take away fields, change the layout of the object (where the fields appear on the "form"), add rules to ensure data accuracy, make reports, email templates, mass mailings, the list goes on.
Here's a little more detail on the customizations I did in order to make Salesforce work for my church.
1. Account Object - First, I renamed the account object to "Household". This means that the tab you click on that used to say "Accounts" now says "Households." There already were fields for the kind of information you'd want for a household, such as address, phone, the name of the household (I standardized on Last Name, Husband First Name + " & " + Wife First Name, or if it's a single person household, that person's first name).
One of the standard fields on the account object is "Type". It is a "picklist" field, and I made the list: Member-Attender, Guest, Denominational Organization, Non-CRC Organization, Vendor and Other. I'm still figuring out whether these are the best choices but they're working so far. There are several standard fields like this, where you can decide what choices to put in the list.
I added an "Archive" checkbox field that can be checked if the household is no longer attending or active. I don't like to delete much in databases. You never know when you might want the history. This way I can keep the old information available but filter out the archived households in all the lists and views that I'm using.
2. Contact Object - I renamed this object to "Person" with the plural of "People". It's kind of cool the way Salesforce asks you to write the plural version of the name you choose, and it even asks whether it starts with a vowel or not. That way when it's referring to the renamed field it can correctly say "a" or "an" if applicable.
As you can see in the screenshot of the Household object above, it contains the household's name, address and phone. The person object contains the information for each member of this household, as in the screenshot below.
3. Opportunity Object - I renamed the Opportunity object "Contribution." As the deacons fill in this object, they select the household name of the family/household who made the contribution, enter the date of the contribution, the amount and select the fund name for which the contribution was designated.
The field "Stage" doesn't really apply for my purposes but it's one of the rare fields that Salesforce does not let you delete. I've told the deacons to always select "Accepted" as the stage, which they can do by just hitting the "A" key.
4. Fund Object - This is a custom object, one that I made, which did not come with Salesforce "out of the box." Right now the only value I actually have filled in for each fund record is the name of the fund. But I added fields to enter the fund organization's address, email, website, phone number and even the "blurb" used to explain the fund when I announce it in the bulletin. I just haven't gotten around yet to entering all that information. :) As I create each Fund (or as the Deacons do), it becomes available as a choice when filling in the Contribution object.
You can go to www.salesforce.com and start a 30 day trial period whenever you're ready to test it out. Salesforce offers a lot of training material - online courses, webinars, videos, and very thorough help documentation. Their tech support is excellent, too. You submit a tech support ticket and get an email reply, plus a phone call, by the next day. When I started, I attended an introductory webinar, started my trial and looked up help documentation as I went along, and watched several videos. When you sign up, you start getting email newsletters from Salesforce and there are frequent offers of free training courses in those. They also offer paid training and have a huge users conference each year.
You apply for the 10 free licenses here. In the application process it talks about sending your organization's 501c form as proof that you are a non-profit. I had no idea where that form for our church might be but that was not an issue. There was a place to indicate I did not have the form and then I was assigned a specific person to contact to complete the process. After a few emails and a phone call, I received my confirmation of the 10 free licenses and I was on my way.
The first thing I did was bring in data from our previous database, which was a Filemaker Pro database. I exported the data into Excel, converted them to .csv (Comma Separated Value) files and imported the information in with a wizard that is part of the program. It went pretty easily but now I've found out that there is a "data loader" program which could have made the process a whole lot easier.
If you have any interest in a tool like this for your church, I encourage you to check out Salesforce!