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What is the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) from

By Melissa Hill Dees

The Nonprofit Success Pack was specifically designed to meet the “unique” needs of Nonprofits, aka NGOs or charities, to aid them in being successful with their mission. There is a lot to unpack just in the name itself! It’s a “Pack” because it consists of several puzzle pieces to meet those needs, sitting on top of Sales Cloud. Let’s start at the beginning and answer the following questions:

  • Are nonprofits and businesses so different?
  • How did the NPSP start?
  • Where is it today?
  • A deeper dive into some of its features
  • How to get started

Are nonprofits and businesses different?

The first question that may come to mind, if you’re not working at a nonprofit, is “are nonprofits and businesses really that different?” The short answer is “no.” However, the way they do business can sometimes be quite different.

Although a business can be either B2B or B2C, the “C” in this case is still probably one group of people: customers.

Nonprofits on the other hand, may deal with people in a variety of groups: donors, volunteers, clients, sponsors, board members, and advocates, just to name a few. Some people connected to a nonprofit may fall into more than one of those categories. So you want to be able to associate a person with both the company they work for and where they have great influence to get funds donated, as well as the household where someone else may be a great advocate of your work (e.g. the person who donates the funds, may not be the same as the person with whom you regularly contact).

With all this in mind, you can begin to glimpse the various considerations to be explored.

Add in the fact that Salesforce was designed to deal with business (Accounts), and it creates a great case for an out-of-the-box solution (the NPSP) to help adapt Salesforce for nonprofit needs, meeting many of the most common scenarios.

Here’s a good point to mention that Person Accounts usually aren’t suitable for nonprofits, because you lose a lot of the value of the NPSP, and it causes real problems for nonprofits installing the NPSP later. It’s a one way process so think very carefully before installing Person Accounts. Most experienced nonprofit practitioners go nowhere near them!

A brief history of the Nonprofit Success Pack started out as the Salesforce Foundation. They handled the donation of ten Salesforce Enterprise licenses for any qualifying nonprofit organization as part of Salesforce’s original Pledge 1% model. It didn’t take long to realize that nonprofits needed more than just a Salesforce instance; they needed it configured to better meet their needs.

What was then known as the Nonprofit Success Pack was conceived and created as an open source application on Salesforce. It was created by volunteers and community members anxious to help nonprofits succeed with Salesforce. It went through a couple of iterations before it became the Nonprofit Success Pack, now maintained by, with minor bug fix releases every other week as well as the three major releases per year – not bad for a free product!

Just to make things more fun, in 2019, was absorbed into, so when we refer to, it’s really just a team within, with the NPSP still being free.

Where is it today?

The ten donated Enterprise licenses are, of course, still very much up and running formerly known as the Power of Us but now on the Trailblazer Community.

Pro tip: recommends you go through a readiness survey and plenty more, as they’ve learned the hard way, what happens when nonprofits that skip those steps!

The NPSP now occupies a curious, and unique, hybrid position in the Salesforce ecosystem. delivers upgrades directly, but updates and add-ons are also envisioned at the wildly popular SFDO (Salesforce Dot Org) Sprints held three times per year by’s Customer Centric Engineering team. Some might describe the Sprint as a hackathon but it is so much more. Consultants, AppExchange partners, nonprofit and higher ed customers, Salesforce engineers and developers, all come together to make enhancements and improvements to the product. Outbound Funds Management is a great example of the amazing things that can happen at an SFDO Sprint.

You also can get support via the usual Help channel, even logging a ticket with a support agent. There’s the active and highly tailored Trailblazer Community (formerly Power of Us Hub), and of course there are many other local nonprofit Trailblazer Community Groups.

Finally, there’s the Nonprofit Cloud and the Nonprofit Cloud Consultant exam. The Nonprofit Cloud is more of a marketing term encompassing various options (including NPSP), rather than one specific item. The exam is useful as it covers many of the technical and business analysis skills you should have to successfully setup and configure NPSP for nonprofits.

  • Households. What are households? Households are really just a type of Account. Since every contact MUST have an account, Households provide that personal account where a group of people that live at the same address can be assembled.
  • Contacts. Whether you’re looking at gender, at the idea that some members of the household will have different term time and vacation addresses, or that others have multiple email addresses (work v. home), all this has been thought out for you, so you have a single source of truth with no duplicate entries.
  • Engagement Plans let you create a series of tasks to help you engage with your “constituents” (donors, volunteers, other stakeholders). Conceptually, they are similar to Service Cloud macros.
  • Fundraising is where NPSP got its start and you can manage all donations in one place, in real-time, related to the contacts who are giving:
    • Gift entry
    • General Accounting Units (where donations have to be allocated for specific purposes)
    • Pledges
    • Recurring donations
  • Grant Management manages the deliverables to meet the funding organization’s application and reporting requirements, as well as keeping track of payments.
  • Levels is used to create groups that correspond to any number field, on any object, and allow tracking over time. You can use levels to represent donor type (e.g. major donor, mid donor, donor), engagement (volunteer hours, years of giving) and even direct mail segmentation (recency, frequency, monetary are industry standards).
  • Outbound Funds gives organisations who disburse awards and grants an easy way to track, manage, and deliver funding.
  • Program Management tracks many different types of programs and services, and how they relate to your contacts. For example, you may have a program that does wildfire relief, environmental cleanup, or patient support and those programs provide several related services (or activities). For a wildfire relief program the services might include clean water distribution and providing emergency shelter.
  • Volunteers for Salesforce is a very developed product for volunteer tracking and scheduling; some use cases for this require you to use Partner community licenses (rather than the cheapest Community licenses). Workarounds such as hiding it behind a login screen (such as available on WordPress) also exist.
  • NPSP Data Importer allows for import into multiple objects (Account, Contact, Opportunities) from a single file.
  • And, don’t forget that NPSP comes with over 60 out-of-the-box reports and dashboards to understand and share the impact of all that data, and works with most AppExchange packages. now also have some paid-for add-ons:

  • Accounting Subledger, which is brand new as of late 2020, and helps translate fundraising information to accounting data.
  • Elevate (currently only in the US), which integrates payment services, giving pages, and gift entry.
  • Case Management is configured specifically for human services management and simplifies intake and referrals, personalization of case plans, and helps track client’s progress.

Getting started with the Nonprofit Success Pack

The Nonprofit Success Pack comes pre-installed for new customers, but you can also install it at any time into any other Salesforce instance, in around ten minutes (you don’t even have to be a customer/nonprofit). Then you “just” need to apply your business practices via guided NPSP settings, from how Households are created to naming conventions, and aspects of donations.


If you’re ready to dive in and learn how to put the Nonprofit Success Pack to work for you, check out the Learn NPSP Trailmix that I’ve created for you, containing best practices, readiness checks and how-to guides for all the major settings. There is extensive documentation on NPSP and the Trailblazer Community (formerly Power of Us Hub) is a great resource to ask questions and get answers from your peers. Want to speak to someone instead? There are monthly live “Ask The Community” Zoom-based sessions where you can ask a panel of customers and consultants for their real-world advice.

So, set up your sandbox, go to the NPSP Install page, and give it a whirl! Also, look out for next week’s article on NPSP: The Top 10 Tips.

With thanks to Paul Ginsberg, Ronak Mehta and Trish Perkins for their help in the preparation of this article.

Working at, or helping a Nonprofit? Check out Nonprofit Dreamin on 28th and 29th January 2021. This event is organised by the nonprofit community, for the nonprofit community and tickets have now been released!

The Author

Melissa Hill Dees

Founding Partner HandsOn Connect Cloud Solutions | #domoregood #WiT #EqualityForAll | 5X Salesforce certified | #DF Speaker #SFDOSprinter | CoFounder Nonprofit Dreamin #foodforce

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