Table of Contents
Nonprofit Cloud Consultant Certification Introduction
The Nonprofit Cloud Consultant Certification has been created for consultants (and in my opinion administrators) who have experience, or wish to gain experience, in implementing the Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud solutions. Much of the content is related to consulting and understanding concepts as opposed to the administration of the platform, however, a key grasp on differences between Sales Cloud and the Not-for-Profit Success Pack (NPSP) as well as additional products like Volunteers for Salesforce (V4S) are key to supporting any Not-for-Profit org, and therefore an important part of the certification.
The exam will test your knowledge on:
- NPSP Settings and Administration
- Nonprofit Cloud Data Management
- Nonprofit Cloud Analytics
- Domain Expertise
- Nonprofit Cloud Solution Design
- Nonprofit Implementation Strategies and Best Practices
Who's the Ideal Candidate?
I would recommend that any Salesforce Administrator or Consultant who is working with, or may have the opportunity to work with, a not-for-profit takes this certification. Although the exam guide expects you to have experience in implementing the solution, provided you have a good grasp of Salesforce (i.e. 1-2 years as an admin), and put in the time and effort to learning about the world of not-for-profits, rather than just the setup of the org, this will put you in a good place to ensure you “do no harm” should you have the opportunity to work with a not-for-profit client.
The exam (as of January 2021) has 60 multiple choice questions, over 90 minutes. The passing score is 63%, requiring a candidate to be successful in 38 out of 60 questions. The exam is made up of 6 topics with various weightings as detailed below.
1. Nonprofit Cloud Product Configuration: 22%
This topic is all about the settings and administration of NPSP, so this is where you want to go through the Power of Us Hub NPSP Production Documentation (which is available for you once you have NPSP login. You can get a login with a free org – see tips). The Power of Us Hub was created as a one-stop nonprofit resource center, hosted by Salesforce.org, built with heavy input from the nonprofit/higher education community.
You need to understand the additional custom objects that NPSP provides (such as affiliations and recurring donations) – reviewing the NPSP Entity Relationship Diagram will definitely help.
It is important to understand the out-of-the box settings that NPSP includes, for example, customizing household name formats, relationship settings and the address management functionality. The capabilities of Customizable rollups, and their benefits over the standard DLRS rollups, are also key concepts to grasp.
You will need to understand how the NPSP release schedule and Salesforce release schedule differ and how to prepare for those.
2. Integration and Data Management: 15%
This topic can be split into two, the first being data transfer. Similar to the Salesforce Administrator certification, this section requires knowledge of when to use Salesforce Data Loader or the Salesforce Import Wizard – or the NPSP Data Importer. Also, the need to understand what duplicate management tools Salesforce uses, and how these can be compatible with NPSP; for example, the consideration of household accounts.
The second element of this topic is more NPSP specific, understanding the different NPSP household setups and the relationships between Accounts, Contacts and Affiliations. There may also be NPSP specific questions around the process of refreshing opportunities, for example: whether this can be done at individual level or with a mass refresh of records. Salesforce will also want you to fully understand how Approval Processes work, and based on a scenario, troubleshoot why one might be behaving a certain way.
3. Analytics 5%
There will likely only be a couple of questions on the exam for this topic but you are guaranteed a question on LYBNTY/SYBNTY reports. You’ll need an understanding of the Household Mailing List actions and reports for direct mail campaigns, as well as a decent knowledge of reporting snapshots and standard reports and dashboards functionality.
4. Domain Expertise 20%
For this section, ensure you know what TDTM is, at least at a high level. Again this is a guaranteed question, and knowing that it allows you to disable specific pieces of code, add your own custom code, and for that to work with NPSP is really key.
You will need to understand the correct solutions for various not-for-profit requirements. For example, volunteer management (maybe Volunteers for Salesforce?), marketing and engagement (a high level knowledge of Marketing Cloud vs Pardot would be useful), fundraising and donor management (soft credits, hard credits, recurring donations etc.), program management (Project Management Module (PMM) may be suitable).
Seek out and understand what resources are available to customers, for example the Power of Us Hub, Trailhead and of course, the AppExchange.
5. Solution Design 20%
Much of this section is similar to the Salesforce Administrator Certification. You will need to know about security and sharing rules, have a high-level understanding of the different Salesforce products on offer, for example Service Cloud, and understand the various not-for-profit solutions available. Having a good high-level understanding of the products will allow you to make the right recommendations to the client, which is what is being tested here.
Dive a little deeper into NPSP to understand the various fundraising solutions, such as integrated payment services, and know what to suggest as a solution as well as the most suitable entry method. For example, the NPSP Dataloader or batch gift entry.
6. Implementation Strategies and Best Practices: 18%
Here, we return to the familiarity of Salesforce Administration basics and Salesforce Consulting basics, so if you already have the Sales Cloud Consultant certification, this will help here. (Not to say that you need to do the consulting exam before attempting the NPSP exam, just useful to know and may help in your preparation either way.) For example, understanding how to gather user requirements and create user stories. Understanding application lifecycle management is also super helpful, as is how to work with sandboxes and the best approach to take with deployments. A good grasp of the Salesforce approach to managing technology projects and teams will be beneficial, so I recommend completing or reviewing the Governance Basics Trailhead badge to help you.
Once again, you need to have a good grasp of those household models, knowing that person accounts are not compatible with NPSP, and generally have a good overview of the NPSP product, which is where testing out scenarios in a trial org will definitely help.
There is a lot of content to cover, with a lot of specific not-for-profit concepts, along with a whole new app (NPSP). There’s also other great not-for-profit functionalities like V4S and PMM, for which you will need to understand the general use cases of. Unlike other core certifications, you will struggle to find exam guides and practice papers, however there are some good blog articles from Salesforce professionals out there, such as:
- My article(!): Achieving my 5th Salesforce Certification – the Nonprofit Cloud Consultant Cert – Top Tips!
- Gemma Blezard: Salesforce Certified Non-Profit Cloud Consultant Exam Tips
- Maciej Jozwiak: How to Prepare For and Pass NonProfit Cloud Consultant Exam
Download the Trailhead Exam Guide and use this as your master revision list. I would strongly urge you to use the Trailhead “Nonprofit Cloud Consultants for Partners” Trailmix as a guide, but don’t just complete the badges, use a NPSP trial to follow along and use it in conjunction with the Power of Us Hub.
Visit the Nonprofit Cloud Academy site which provides Video Replays to watch at a time that suits you – the resources are also free. These videos cover much of the exam guide content with some fantastic pointers – John Richter is a great teacher!
The exam strategy is very similar to that of any Salesforce Certification. You need to use the process of elimination to take out those answers you know are incorrect – and watch out for questions where
Salesforce is really trying to test your knowledge. For example, person accounts do not work with NPSP and I can guarantee they will want to test that you know that!
Make sure you use the “mark for review” option for questions where you feel unsure so you know to revisit them later (particularly early on in the exam). One tip I have is that if you really have no idea, just go with the most likely answer, and move on. If you don’t know, and have no idea, there is little point “marking for review” when you aren’t likely to know in 30 minutes’ time either!
Whether you review every question at the end is a personal choice. Personally, I wouldn’t do this as I would start to doubt answers and make changes to questions I was previously confident on, however others find this a great way to spot mistakes.
The Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud Consultant Certification is a must for Salesforce professionals in the not-for-profit space. This is especially true if you are working with NPSP and have a corporate background. You really do need to understand how NPSP works, and how best to support the not-for-profit you are working with. This will definitely help you stand out when looking for a new role in this vertical, showing that you have the knowledge needed to support the org.
Now, get studying and ace that exam!