Use Your Salesforce Skills for Good in the Nonprofit Sector
It may surprise you to know that over 54,000 nonprofits use Salesforce. This presents a huge amount of opportunity for people with Salesforce skills who want to put them to use for good causes.
In this article, we’ll cover four ways you can use your Salesforce skills for good in the nonprofit sector.
When you think about volunteering for a nonprofit, you may think of serving meals in a soup kitchen, removing trash from a river, or tutoring kids. But if you have Salesforce skills, you should also think about volunteering to build automations, clean up data, and teach users to build reports.
Nonprofits that use Salesforce have these needs but often don’t have the internal resources or time to maintain and enhance their orgs. Your ability to provide these services may be of a higher value to the organization than the other ways in which you can help.
How can you find these volunteer opportunities?
- If you are already engaged with a nonprofit in your community, simply ask if they use Salesforce and let them know about your willingness to help.
- If there is a particular cause you care about, do a web search for “organization name” + Salesforce. This will often reveal whether or not the organization is making use of Salesforce in some way. Look for the “Volunteer” or “Contact Us” pages on their site to inquire whether they are interested in pro-bono Salesforce services.
- Search sites like Catchafire, Taproot Foundation, and Points of Light Engage that aggregate opportunities for pro bono professional services, including Salesforce-related work.
Tip: If you have never done Salesforce work for a nonprofit, see the advice at the end of this article. Here are three additional resources to get you started:
- Salesforce Ben: What is the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) from Salesforce.org
- Salesforce Ben: How to Volunteer in the Salesforce Ecosystem – 5 Top Tips
- Trailhead: pro bono basics for Salesforce professionals
2. Work for a Nonprofit
Based on my analysis of information published by Salesforce, the number of nonprofits using Salesforce has been growing at an average of 11 percent per year over the past five years. This translates into thousands of new organizations each year, all of whom need some level of in-house Salesforce talent.
How can you find these job opportunities?
- As with finding volunteer opportunities, if you have in mind an organization you would like to work for, search for “organization name” + Salesforce to find out whether and how they may be using Salesforce. This will often reveal case studies, LinkedIn profiles of existing Salesforce professionals at the organization, and current or previous job postings.
- Visit the Nonprofit and Education Jobs group on the Salesforce Success Community. This is a great place to start to get a feel for the types of roles available for Salesforce professionals at nonprofit organizations.
- Search the major online job sites, including Salesforce Ben Jobs. There are also sites specific to job openings in the nonprofit sector – Foundation List has compiled 24 different sites.
Tip: Many nonprofit Salesforce jobs are in the area of “development”. In the nonprofit world, development means fundraising, not solution or product development. It is often used interchangeably with “advancement” and “philanthropy”.
3. Work for a Nonprofit-Focused Consultancy
According to the AppExchange, there are over 2,000 official Salesforce consultancies, also known as consulting partners or SIs (system integrators). How can you find the ones that focus on the nonprofit sector?
- Visit Salesforce.org’s (SFDO) list of North American and international partners. SFDO is the business unit within Salesforce that focuses on the nonprofit and education sectors, and it has its own network of SIs. There are currently 116 of these firms in North America and another 138 internationally, ranging from one person shops to global corporations.
- Search the Consultant directory on the AppExchange, filtered by Salesforce Expertise for “Nonprofit Cloud” and/or Industry Expertise for “Salesforce.org Sectors”. From there, check the Expertise tab on a firm’s listing to get a feel for the types and amount of work they have done in the nonprofit sector. You can also see how many Nonprofit Cloud certified consultants they have. For more guidance in using the AppExchange to find a nonprofit-focused consultancy, see this video I created on the topic.
Tip: Prior experience working with nonprofits will give you an advantage when applying for a role with one of these firms. If this is a direction you would like to move in and you don’t yet have that experience, consider volunteer opportunities that will give you that exposure. Also consider preparing for and earning your Nonprofit Cloud consultant certification.
4. Create a Nonprofit-Focused Consultancy
The growth in nonprofits using Salesforce has created commensurate growth in SI firms who serve the sector. Based on analysis in a report I created last year, the number of firms in the SFDO partner network in North America has grown 150 percent over the past five years. This is significantly faster growth than among Salesforce partners as a whole.
Whether you run an existing firm or are interested in starting your own, SFDO has created a pathway to align your firm with serving the nonprofit sector. The minimum qualifications are:
- Enrollment in the larger Salesforce partner program.
- 2 Salesforce consultant certifications, held by one or more people.
- 2 nonprofit-focused Salesforce projects in the past 18 months logged in the Partner Community, with at least 4 out 5 star satisfaction ratings.
You can apply to become an SFDO partner and access the full Salesforce.org partner prospectus which outlines the obligations and benefits of being part of this network.
“By being a Salesforce.org Partner, you will have access to resources that will help you and your firm grow deeper technical expertise, nurture leaders and teamwork within your organizations, drive equality, and reach customers by connecting to what they care about – growing the impact of their mission.” – Salesforce.org Partner Prospectus
Tip: To be competitive, you will especially want to focus on honing your nonprofit credentials and expertise. As my research found, last year 94% of all firms in the SFDO partner network had at least one Nonprofit Cloud certified consultant on their staff, with a median of 3 per firm. Likewise, 52% of firms had achieved at least a Level 1 for one of the Nonprofit Cloud Partner Navigator specialization areas, and 26% of firms had achieved at least Level 1 in all specialization areas.
Putting your skills to use in service of great causes and great missions can be very meaningful and professionally rewarding. No matter which of the above options you explore, keep in mind the following:
- Nonprofit does not mean “easy”: Nonprofits exist to meet various types of human needs and many are trying to solve highly complex societal or global challenges. Don’t assume that whatever nonprofits are trying to do with Salesforce will be easy to do. In fact, the opposite is often the case. Nonprofits can present some of the more complicated use cases to be addressed with Salesforce solutions. Be ready to bring your best thinking to the table.
- Nonprofit does not mean “lack of professionalism”: Just as with any industry, the nonprofit sector has its own operating processes, industry standards, nomenclature, and professional norms. This includes domains that are also found in commercial sectors such as IT, finance, marketing, and human resources, as well as those that are unique to nonprofits such as fundraising, mission programs, volunteer management, and grassroots advocacy. Be prepared to familiarize yourself with these so that your support and guidance is rooted in nonprofit best practices.
- Nonprofit does not mean “build whatever you want”: Over time, many nonprofit-specific Salesforce solutions have been created to address the needs of nonprofits, both by Salesforce itself as well as consulting firms and ISV product companies. Don’t assume that you are limited to the standard Salesforce products used by commercial entities. Be prepared to get acquainted with the wide variety of solution options that already exist. A good place to start is learning about Nonprofit Cloud and nonprofit solutions on the AppExchange.
- Nonprofit means having a great community: The community that SFDO has created among its nonprofit customers, partners, and the larger nonprofit sector is second-to-none. From the Salesforce.org Hub on the Trailblazer Community, to Impact Labs and Open Source Commons for solution collaboration, to Nonprofit User Groups for networking and knowledge sharing, to events like Nonprofit Summit and Nonprofit Dreamin’, there are ample opportunities for anyone interested in using their Salesforce skills for social impact to get connected and get involved.