Which Stakeholders Should Be Involved in Your Nonprofit’s Salesforce Project?

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If your nonprofit is investigating options for a new constituent relationship management (CRM) system to scale up your fundraising, marketing, and donor stewardship efforts, you’ve almost certainly come across Salesforce’s Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP).

Since Salesforce created the NPSP configuration of its core Sales Cloud, the solution has become a leading CRM system in the nonprofit landscape. Perhaps you’ve already compared your options (likely choosing between Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge NXT and Salesforce’s NPSP), and you’ve decided to work with Salesforce. Next up is the implementation process.

Implementation is an extensive, time-consuming (usually year-long or longer) process, and its success depends on having the right team involved. In this guide, we’re going to discuss the following team members to bring into the process:

  • Nonprofit Leadership
  • Project Manager
  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Salesforce Administrator
  • Nonprofit Technology Consultant

Your CRM touches every part of your nonprofit’s operations, so the implementation of your new system must run smoothly. With the right team, you’ll be off to a great start. Let’s dive in!

Nonprofit Stakeholders in the Leadership Team

First and foremost, your nonprofit’s leadership — including executive leaders and your nonprofit’s board — needs to be involved in your Salesforce NPSP implementation from the start.

You need to obtain buy-in from leadership before conducting any large procedural changes (like implementing a new CRM) and they’ll need to approve any major spending associated with these changes. These costs include:

  • Purchasing the core Nonprofit Cloud and any additional user licenses needed beyond the initial 10 free licenses.
  • Hiring a consultant to configure the system and train your team.
  • Creating new internal roles, such as the Salesforce Administrator role.

It’s also important to consider any costs associated with time lost. As team members transition to the new system, they may temporarily have less time to work on other projects related to your nonprofit’s mission. Leadership will have a comprehensive picture of the overall workload across your nonprofit and provide valuable insight into how to recoup any time lost.

Project Manager

The project manager is the team member who oversees your Salesforce implementation from start to finish. This graphic, pulled from DNL OmniMedia’s Salesforce for Nonprofits implementation guide, shows that you can likely expect a 5-step implementation process that involves both internal and external stakeholders:

Each step is dependent on the successful completion of the prior step. For example, you can’t begin building out integrations in step two (which can take anywhere from 12-18 weeks) without completing the 4-8 week discovery process in which key guidelines and goals for the project are established.

The project manager will manage expectations across your team, communication between stakeholders, and all project activities to ensure team members complete all tasks within the time period allotted. This process can take anywhere from a year to a year and a half, so it must proceed according to schedule.

Subject Matter Experts

Subject matter experts are those within your nonprofit that have expert knowledge of a specific area of operations, whether it’s event planning, social fundraising, or even major gifts management.

Let’s consider the final example, major gift management. Your development director likely has extensive knowledge of the moves management process and the various steps that need to be tracked within it, such as key touchpoints with major gift prospects, reminders of upcoming deadlines, and even prospect research data.

This professional should be looped into your Salesforce implementation to ensure your solution is sustainable for major gifts acquisition (which accounts for over 80% of most organizations’ total revenue).

Subject matter experts from every major facet of your nonprofit’s organization should be involved in your Salesforce implementation to ensure that the core building blocks of your day-to-day efforts are accounted for accurately in the new solution.

Salesforce Administrator

A Salesforce admin is a specific team member within your organization who specializes in the system. Their entire role consists of managing the day-to-day operations of your Salesforce NPSP instance, ensuring challenges are quickly addressed and improving the solution with features as needed.

This administrator will manage your Salesforce NPSP instance after it’s implemented. While this position can be promoted internally, it’s highly recommended that your Salesforce admin has gone through the process of being certified. This is because your admin will be making technical changes to your Salesforce solution, and they need to be highly effective to prevent your system from hindering your organization’s work.

Nonprofit Technology Consultants

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to work with a nonprofit technology consultant to implement your Salesforce NPSP instance. Without strategic implementation and training, your new CRM could end up wasting resources and actively hindering your operations.

Here are the areas where a consultant can assist in your efforts:

  • Implementing the solution. This includes procuring and registering your licenses, setting up the system, and handling the data migration process.
  • Configuring your Salesforce toolkit. This includes developing platform integrations with your existing solutions and implementing any additional Salesforce Apps needed to meet your fundraising and marketing needs.
  • Training your team. This includes training your team to ensure they know how to navigate the system and documenting the process to ensure any work completed by the consultant and training can be replicated in the future.

Choosing the right consultant can make or break your project, so you’ll want to choose carefully. Here are 26 questions to help you discover the right partner for your team.


Implementing Salesforce’s NPSP as your organization’s CRM involves managing many moving parts — including the multiple stakeholders involved in the process.

We recommend including these five stakeholders in your Salesforce implementation to ensure the process runs smoothly from beginning to end. Good luck!

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