Pro Bono Salesforce Resources
Pro Bono Salesforce Resources

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?

Editors Note : We wrote this post in 2018 and while much of it has stood the test of time, a lot changed too in 2020 when in person events everywhere were cancelled or moved online. As of 2021, we're looking ahead and have updated this with current resources. 

Salesforce Innovation on a Limited Budget

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 in your Org or a full migration from a legacy point solution like Raiser’s Edge or Luminate possible. When you hear about the donation program and free consulting 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 and nonprofit relationship is that it’s like getting a free puppy. It’s free and can be awesome, but there are costs involved if you want yours to be Ok. Even the simplest Salesforce setups require the help of an admin at some point to keep them running in top gear and the formal Salesforce 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 spend time one-on-one with our team. As of early 2021, our last in person Pro Bono Day was held at the Salesforce Tower in New York City. Throughout the rest of 2020 we moved our events online and opened registration to any nonprofit employee in North America. Check out our events page for info about what is coming up next for Arkus Pro Bono Days.

Prior to 2020, Salesforce’s Pro Bono Week also happened each year, with free events for nonprofits across the country. While these in person events are paused, you can now register to meet for Pro Bono help online in one of their monthly Pro Bono Quick Connect Sessions. 

Pre-2020, almost-free NPSP days and Salesforce World Tours also popped up around the country and may return in the future. Salesforce community groups for admins and developers frequently hosted regular meetups that helped pair nonprofits with professional support, such as the Dallas-Fort Worth community that organized a Summer of Salesforce program. We suggest checking out the Power of Us Hub to see what is currently happening virtually or planned to be in person. You can also ask questions for free and get community help via posts in the Power of Us Hub and Power of Us Live Roundtables.

Trailhead is another place where you can get support for just the cost of your time. Check out one of our all-time top Arkus posts, "Where to Go For Help When the System Administrator is You" for a roundup of places to get other kinds of Salesforce help and the different online communities.

What Can Pro Bono Help Help Us Do?

At a 2018 Arkus Pro Bono Day, Jess Lopez, Salesforce technical architect, stopped by to give us a look at not-yet-released features coming for NPSP, and Arkus project manager Sam Safin shared best practices for Campaign Management in her presentation on The Humble Salesforce Campaign. Questions were answered over breakfast, hands-on help was given between and during sessions, and more questions were answered over lunch. Our event, and other similar community events, combine workshops, presenations, and individual time to talk about individual Org related questions. 

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.

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 risk accepting assistance from a well-meaning but uninformed source.

Just as you wouldn’t hand your car keys to just anyone, you shouldn’t turn admin privileges over to just anyone either. The go-to place to help you check out a 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 may also be an opportunity to meet a potential consulting partner in person and see if there is match. 

Meeting with a consultant in a free Pro Bono event, such as an Arkus Pro Bono Day, can also be a chance to have an expert review your preparations before submitting an application for the formal Salesforce Pro Bono support program.

“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 absolutely are opportunities out there that can help you make big things happen for your organization with a small budget.

What’s Next?

With many successful Salesforce Pro Bono Weeks and past Arkus Pro Bono Days now behind us, the plans ahead for virtual vs in person events are still somewhat uncertain. Check out the official Salesforce Pro Bono Program page, their group in the Hub (this group includes a number of links and resources) for the latest on what is happening with their events, and follow their twitter feed

Stay up to date on Arkus upcoming events by following us @Arkus, Inc. on Twitter, visiting our events page, and subscribing to our Arkus newsletter. As of June 2021 our next event is coming up on Wednesday, June 16th. Registration is open and free to any nonprofit employee. Register here. We hope to see you at this or a next Pro Bono Day.

What Pro Bono resources have you made use of? Is there anything you would add to this list? Let us know in the Trailblazer Community, or tweet at me directly @ktatwd.