Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP)  -  Love it or Leave It
Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP) - Love it or Leave It

Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP) - Love it or Leave It

11/21/2012 by Staci Rice
The Nonprofit Starter Pack - known as NPSP in the Salesforce community - is a set of packages installed in a Salesforce environment to transform the “Sales Cloud” into a “Fundraising Cloud”. The packages have some great features... and some not so great features. Here are my thoughts on what I would "take" or "leave".

What is the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP)

Through the Power of Us program the Salesforce Foundation will donate 10 enterprise licenses (free!) and heavily discount any additional licenses you may need. When you apply for the Power of Us grant you’ll be asked whether you’d prefer to install the NPSP (“Pre-Configured for Donor Management”) or “Clean” Slate. This often throws people off - “Which one should I choose”? Before I launch into my favorite and least favorite NPSP features, I want to briefly explain the different between these two options. The only difference is that one comes with the NPSP packages installed. The platform, the features, the tools, etc. are otherwise exactly the same. Keep in mind, regardless of which you option you choose, the platform will need additional setup. So find a good implementation partner who knows the nonprofit business model and have them configure Salesforce for your unique business process.

Leave It

Out of all of the NPSP packages Recurring Donations is my least favorite. In fact, before I configure a single field or page layout I uninstall this application. There’s nothing more exciting to a nonprofit than a recurring, unrestricted donation, however, I don’t think this is the solution. I prefer using the “Payments” object that comes with the NPSP to manage recurring, or “scheduled’ payments.

There are typically two types of recurring donations: 1) the “pledge”, and 2) the “open ended”. With the “Pledge” your donor commits $X dollars paid over some period of time (i.e., $120 over the next 12 months). Most nonprofits consider this one donation of $120 with scheduled payments of $10 a month. The way the Recurring Package would respond to this would be to create 12 separate donations. This is often very confusing to a nonprofit and much harder to manage.

The second type - the “open ended” - is a nice problem to have. It means your donor has committed $X dollars a month with no specified end date. These “open ended” donations are happening more and more through online contributions where people provide their credit cards and they are automatically charged. I have not found an online payment processor (i.e., Click and Pledge) that plays nicely with Recurring Donations. If you have, let me know.

Take it or Leave It

This next package can ignite a flurry of conversation (and often disagreement) amongst the Salesforce community. Even at Arkus we have rather heated discussions around whether to use the NPSP Household package or not. So when people ask me whether they should use ‘householding’ or a custom solution (i.e., using “Organizations” as “Households”). I would say it depends on how many “households” you’re dealing with. If you are a nonprofit that works with entire families (i.e., you interact with parents and children) and you do a lot of direct mail, then the household package is a good way to go. It has a pretty slick household naming feature and a new drag and drop user interface (which you can override if you don’t dig it). My major complaint with this option is that it doesn’t allow you to associate the Household with the Donation, only the household members. This doesn’t work for most nonprofits dealing with a lot of household gifts.

If there are only a handful of instances where you interact with more than one person from the household, then I recommend creating an Organization (type = household) and creating the household members as contacts. You’ll have to update the formal and information greeting manually (or write some custom code), but if you only have a handful of these, that isn’t an issue.

Love It

The relatively new Payment object is pretty awesome. I mentioned it briefly during my recurring donations rant, but it’s worth mentioning again. Of all the NPSP releases, this feature has been my hand down favorite. Many of you might not know or remember - the painful days of manually creating payments for a multi-year grant or a pledge. If you haven’t upgraded or started using this package because you don’t want to migrate your historical data I would say, “bite the bullet and do it”, - or call me and I’ll do it for you. This feature is worth it. Given that most nonprofits - especially the larger ones - want to track revenue (i.e., commitments) vs. cash (payments received), this feature was a no-brainer.

Need It

You know what else seems like a no-brainer? Allocations. Kevin Bromer (NPSP Solutions Architect), if you’re out there, please rollout an Allocations object that would work like the Payments object so we can save ourselves the time and frustration of manually creating allocations for every dollar that comes in. We would all love you even more for it!

I would love to hear your ‘love it’ or ‘leave it’ NPSP packages. Which of these do you agree or disagree with? Feel free to share them in the comments below in Discuss, on our Facebook page, or tweet them to me @StaciRiceNYC.