Pro Bono Salesforce Resources

10/22/2018 by Katharine Atwood
What free consulting resources are available to help your organization get the most out of Salesforce?

Have you been told that your nonprofit can have Salesforce for free? It’s a tempting offer and it might sound too good to be true. It is and it isn’t. Salesforce donates ten licenses to nonprofits and heavily discounts additional ones for those who apply and qualify. Salesforce also gives their staff time for pro bono consulting projects with nonprofits as part of their Pledge 1-1-1 model of philanthropy. There are a number of organizations who offer Pro Bono help for nonprofits on specific days or through specific programs too.

Can We Do it For Free?

If you’re overseeing your nonprofit’s attempt to scale within the constraints of a tight or almost nonexistent budget, free help can make an upgrade to Lightning experience or a full migration from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce possible. When you hear about all of the above free resources it may sound like you could go all in with Salesforce for no cost.

The reality is a bit more nuanced. There are free apps and Salesforce may be almost free for you, but what about the help you need to get your org setup and evaluate if a free app will work with your data model? An often used cliche to describe the Salesforce - nonprofit relationship is that it’s like getting a free puppy. It’s free, but there are costs to train your new sidekick and keep them in optimal health. Even the simplest Salesforce setups require an admin’s help at some point to keep them running in top gear and Salesforce’s formal Pro Bono assistance program does have limitations. 

What Pro Bono Resources Are There?

Twice a year Arkus hosts two days of Pro Bono consulting services as part of our own Pledge 1%. We invite any employee at a nonprofit to join us for presentations and to spend time one-on-one with our team. While we set aside almost an entire day for help, we’re not the only ones offering some kind of assistance to nonprofits for free. Salesforce’s Pro Bono Week kicks off October 22nd and there will be free events for nonprofits across the country.

Similar things happen at the almost-free NPSP days and Salesforce World Tours. Bigger nonprofit conferences take place throughout the year too. Talks, sessions, and roundtables offer a chance to connect directly with admins and experts. Salesforce community groups for both nonprofit, admins, and developers also host regular meetups and help pair nonprofits with professional support such as the Dallas-Fort Worth community that organizes a Summer of Salesforce program. There’s also the virtual support resources in the Trailblazer Community including regular MVP Office Hours in the US, EMEA, APAC and Português, the Power of Us Hub and Power of Us Live Roundtables, and of course the fun place to learn Salesforce, Trailhead, to get support for just the cost of your time.

What Can Pro Bono Help Help Us Do?

At our last Pro Bono Day, Jess Lopez, Salesforce technical architect, stopped by to give us a look at not-yet-released features coming for NPSP. Arkus project manager Sam Safin shared best practices for Campaign Management in her presentation on The Humble Salesforce Campaign. There was time to talk one-on-one over free breakfast, questions were answered, hands-on help was given between and during sessions, and more questions were answered over lunch. 

Salesforce’s Pro Bono Program can also serve as another great resource for cost-free Salesforce support. These Pro Bono engagements are designed to be short-term projects (~10 - 20 hours) that connect nonprofits with Salesforce employees who are willing to volunteer their time and expertise to support an organization they care about. While this is a great resource, this program is not designed to facilitate a full implementation or address time-sensitive or business-critical needs.

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How Do We Make the Most of It?

Any of the help offered at one of our Pro Bono Days, in the virtual office hours, or Trailblazer community group can give you the chance to clarify next steps. The key here is to use this help wisely. When you go to the Trailblazer Community or a roundtable at a conference for answers, you do risk accepting assistance from a well-meaning but uninformed source. You wouldn’t hand your car keys to just anyone and you shouldn’t turn admin privileges over to just anyone either. The go-to place to help you judge the partner or app you are evaluating is the Salesforce AppExchange. The App Advice and Consumer Reports group is another great place to get feedback on free apps. A Pro Bono Day or meetup can also be an opportunity to meet a potential consulting partner in person. 

A best case scenario is to get clear on your goals and plans in advance of connecting with anyone offering free Salesforce help. Pro Bono assistance can also be an opportunity to do this if you find a consultant you trust. It can be a chance to have an expert review your preparations before submitting an application for the Salesforce Pro Bono support. “You get what you pay for” doesn’t always apply if you educate yourself enough to engage with free resources with confidence. Make sure you remain in control of your org and properly assess the quality of the specific resources in advance. There are absolutely opportunities out there that can help you make big things happen for your organization with a small budget.

What’s Next?

Salesforce Pro Bono Week kicks off today, October 22nd. There's still space in a few of their lightning clinics happening around the country. Take a look and clear your schedule for tomorrow or Wednesday if you can. You can also check out ways to volunteer for future events and follow their twitter feed for info. 

The next Arkus Pro Bono Day happens December 12th and you can register here. If you’re local to the NYC area we’d love to see you there. 

If you’re anywhere else in the world, check out the Trailblazer Community and MVP hours above. Have you been to an Arkus Pro Bono Day before? Are you planning on going to any of the Pro Bono Week events? Write us a comment below, in the Trailblazer Community, tweet at @arkusinc or tweet at me directly @ktatwd.