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Create and Manage Engagement Plans

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Define the difference between an engagement plan and an engagement plan template.
  • Work with your admin to create engagement plan templates.
  • Manage engagement plan tasks.

NMH Training Is on a Roll

No More Homelessness (NMH), a (fictional) nonprofit dedicated to addressing issues of homelessness, has been hosting advocacy training workshops in the community, and their events have been going well. Attendance has been higher than the team anticipated, and most participants committed to hosting at least one outreach event in their own neighborhoods. And, at the end of the most recent workshop, several people even requested additional training.

To keep this momentum going, Michael Aviran, NMH’s Communications Intern, and Aniyah Thompson, NMH's Director of Development, along with the rest of the NMH team, want to make sure they parlay this excitement into ongoing engagement, encouraging volunteers, and using this initiative to nurture and grow their fundraising efforts. Through the moves management process, Aniyah has learned that many of NMH’s dedicated volunteers also become dedicated donors, making it important to keep people’s spirits (and energy) up when they leave the workshop. The problem is, many volunteers seem to lose momentum after hosting a few events, subsequently affecting NMH’s volunteer engagement and fundraising.

But wait, before we get into how Aniyah and Michael are going to keep the momentum flowing with volunteers and prospective donors, let’s take a minute to cover (or maybe it’s a review for you) what exactly moves management is. In nonprofit fundraising, “moves management” refers to the actions that an organization takes to move someone to deeper levels of engagement.  While this process looks different for every nonprofit, it is generally organized into the stages of identification, qualification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship. “Moves” are all the activities that move a prospect through those stages to more meaningful engagement with an organization’s mission.

NMH constituents in different stages of engagement.

The moves management process is pretty nifty, right? And Michael and Aniyah want to engage in it to help keep community advocates on track so that NMH can connect more deeply with volunteers, moving them into deeper levels of engagement with NMH. Let’s follow along as Aniyah and Michael develop a plan to enhance constituent engagement. 

Consistency and Personalization

Aniyah and Michael both agree that consistent, personalized communication will be one of the keys to enhancing constituent engagement. All volunteer advocates should get messages tailored to them sent intermittently, so NMH can cut through the noise of today’s email reality, offering support at critical moments and deepening relationships with its constituents. It’d also be great if a variety of staff members, beyond Aniyah and Michael, reached out to the volunteer advocates, allowing everyone to ask questions and address concerns personally.

Both Michael and Aniyah have used tasks in Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) to manually assign one-off actions to staff, like sending follow-up emails and scheduling meetings. Tasks seem like they would work well for handling this type of communication plan, but that would require an awful lot of clicking. Someone would need to manually set up the same series of tasks for every workshop participant. Sounds tedious, and anything manual leaves too much room for human error. And what happens if someone else needs to take over when Michael or Aniyah aren’t around? 

There must be a way to assign tasks more efficiently and consistently in Salesforce, and Michael and Aniyah know just who to ask—Gorav, the awesome Salesforce admin at NMH. Great news: Gorav thinks this sounds like a perfect use for engagement plans (go Gorav!). 

Let’s follow along as Gorav, Michael, and Aniyah work together to set up engagement plans that can standardize and automate the process of creating tasks. 

Assign Tasks Automatically with Engagement Plans

Engagement plans are an NPSP feature that automate creating and assigning Salesforce tasks, so your staff has a clear list of what to do and when. Depending on the situation, you can create a series of independent or dependent tasks, so they can be completed in any order or following a specific sequence. 

Engagement plans are great for standardizing repetitive tasks or well-defined moves management processes, like sending welcome messages and scheduling introductory meetings. Combine the right messages, meetings, and events all together in an engagement plan, and you’ve got a great way to cultivate major donors. They’re also great for ushering someone through the stages of a training program. 

Like most things in Salesforce (and in life), an engagement plan is only as good as the preparation you put into it. Before setting up an engagement plan, you should first clearly identify what it’s for, define the set (or series) of tasks to assign, to whom, and when. Ask yourself (and remember to answer) questions like:

  • What’s the list of tasks that need to get done?
  • Do the tasks need to be completed in a specific order? If yes, what is the correct sequence?
  • Who’s responsible for each task?
  • How much time should pass between each task?

Setting up engagement plans requires teamwork between you and the Salesforce admin at your organization. You know the details of the tasks you need to accomplish, and your admin manages the set up and customization. Out-of-the box, your admin can create engagement plans that work with contacts, accounts, opportunities, and campaign records. With a little customization, they can also set up engagement plans for other objects, too.

The NMH Engagement Plan Plan

Being the go-getters they are, Michael and Aniyah have already created separate lists—one for volunteer engagement and one to nurture prospective donors—of all the steps NMH staff members take after a volunteer completes the community advocacy workshop. Constituents can complete the first task at any time, but the other tasks need to be listed in a series on the person’s contact record and completed in order. Let’s take a look at Michael’s list.

  • Goal: Share welcome packets and other helpful resources that entice volunteers to attend the next volunteer mixer.
  1. Day 1 after attending the workshop: Email participants the feedback request and survey.
  2. Day 7: Mail the “host your own community event” resources starter pack.
  3. Day 14: Email encouragement / inspirational message (includes an advocate success story video, tips on invites and RSVPs, and latest news on hostile architecture policies).
  4. Day 30: Follow-up phone call / check in.

And Aniyah’s list looks similar, enticing prospective donors to give by sharing NMH success stories, significant impact figures, and more. These lists are perfect for an engagement plan because they require sending out the same mailings and setting up the same meeting over and over again. The people and times vary, but the content of these messages and invitations are otherwise identical.   

But First: A Template

Time to work some admin magic. Before Michael and Aniyah can assign any tasks, Gorav needs to create their engagement plan templates. And to explain the difference between an engagement plan and an engagement plan template, Gorav starts to eat lunch. No really, he does.

Gorav’s son made cookies the other day–dinosaur-shaped cookies, naturally–and everyone in the family got their own special cookie. They didn’t have a dinosaur shaped cookie cutter, so his son first made his own cookie template from wax paper. 

After rolling out the cookie dough, his son used the template to trace out individual cookies. Everyone in the family got a cookie that was the same dinosaur size and shape, but the cookies were all decorated differently, with their names written in frosting. This way, everyone in the family got their own, personal dinosaur cookie. 

A dinosaur cookie cutter.

An engagement plan template is like the dinosaur cookie template, and an individual constituent’s engagement plan is like each family member’s cookie (though less delicious). The tasks of the engagement plans, like the cookie shape, are all the same, but the individuals that tasks are directed to and all other flourishes are personalized, like the cookie frosting. With the engagement plan templates that Gorav set up, Michael and Aniyah can sink their teeth into the sweet job of using it (yum). 

Assign an Engagement Plan

Turning back to Michael, he’s now ready to find the list of attendees from the most recent training workshop, and apply his engagement plan template to all the appropriate contact records, so everyone gets the right follow-up resources.  

Let’s follow along to see how Michael assigns his engagement plan to a contact: 

1. Log in to Salesforce.

2. Find a contact record. At the top of the workshop attendees list is Lucy Sadeghin. Michael searches for ‘Lucy’ using the global search box and selects her contact record from the results.

3. Click Related.

4. Scroll to the Engagement Plan section. Click New.

The New button, used to create an engagement plan

5. In the Engagement Plan Template field, search for the template you need. Michael selects the “Advocacy Workshop Follow-ups” template, which Gorav had set up for him.

New Engagement Plan form

6. Click Save.

All the tasks that Gorav created in the engagement plan template now apply to Lucy’s contact record and have become her specific engagement plan. 

Manage Assigned Tasks

Michael stays on Lucy’s contact record after assigning the template, so he can see all the tasks associated with this engagement plan...and they’re all assigned to him. Stressful! No, not really. If he’s overloaded, Michael can manually reassign tasks to other staff members. Moving forward, he can also ask Gorav to adjust how the engagement plan templates assign tasks; they can be assigned either to the owner of a record or the person applying the template to the record. 

Let’s take a closer look at how Michael manages his assigned tasks. 

The activity component and a list of Upcoming & Overdue tasks

Thanks to his good planning, the tasks are discrete, concrete, and on a well-defined timeline. Although he’s currently looking only at the tasks related to Lucy’s contact record, Michael can see all of the tasks assigned to him from the Tasks tab on his Home page (though your Homepage might look different, so be sure to ask your admin).  

After Michael sends the survey email to Lucy, the first dependent task on his list, he clicks the box next to the task to mark it done. He could also use the dropdown to change the due date, update the status, add or edit comments, create a follow-up task, and a whole lot more. 

The checkbox to mark that a task has been completed

Michael’s next task isn’t due for another week, so he has time to check in with Gorav: The engagement plan templates are working great, he’s been getting tasks assigned and completed faster than ever. So happy to hear it, Gorav excitedly starts chatting about another feature called levels, which can be combined with engagement plans to make them even more effective. 

Zoinks! Looks like there’s more to learn about engagement plans...let’s dive into the next unit to discover more. 

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