Connect Contacts with Organizations Using Affiliations

Learning Objectives

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

  • Define organization accounts and know when to use them.
  • Connect contacts to organizations using affiliations.
  • Describe the difference between relationships and affiliations in NPSP.

Understanding your constituents means knowing who they are and who they’re connected to. When it comes to personal connections, you can use the relationship viewer to see how one contact relates to others. But what about the connections people have to an entity, like a workplace, club, or faith community? You can represent these and other groups in Nonprofit Success Pack using organization accounts. 

Organization Accounts in NPSP

Organization accounts let you group individual contacts together to represent an agency, company, team, institution, division, cadre, crew, squad, and any other collection of people. (Except a household. There are household accounts for that.) As a nonprofit, you might want to create an organization account for a foundation that supports your nonprofit, partner agencies, groups that donate in-kind gifts, or companies that organize employee volunteer groups. The more you know about where your constituents work or the community groups they belong to, the more successful your strategies to engage and serve your constituents become. 

The associations a constituent has with organizations can give you a picture of the whole person, so you can better speak to their interests, concerns, and needs. Employer information is particularly valuable for soliciting sponsorships or building partner relations.

Create an Organization Account

No More Homelessness (NMH) recently established a relationship with a corporate philanthropy team at Cloud Kicks, a sneaker company that designs personalized sneakers for its customers. The philanthropy team is interested in partnering with NMH to start a donation program, and employees at the regional office are also interested in volunteering together at NMH.

Anthony, the Program Manager at NMH, has an upcoming volunteering opportunity perfect for the Cloud Kicks team but before they can sign up for the event, Anthony wants to make sure there’s an organization account for the company. That way, when each person registers online to volunteer, they can all be associated with the Cloud Kicks account in the NMH database.  

Anthony is going to create an organization account in Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), but remember that like nearly everything in Salesforce, organization accounts are flexible, so the amazing Salesforce admin on your team can customize them to meet your specific needs. You might not see exactly what Anthony sees.

To create an organization account in NPSP:

1. Click the arrow in the Accounts tab from the navigation bar. 

The Accounts tab dropdown arrow and menu in the navigation bar.

2. Click +New Account.

3. Select Organization as the record type.

The New Account creation form, with an option to select an organization or household account.

4. Click Next.

5. Enter the organization’s name and details.

6. Click Save.

Now that Cloud Kicks exists in the NMH Salesforce system, Anthony (or anyone at NMH) has just one place to go for information on all the individuals associated with that company. 

A new account record for Cloud Kicks.

But there’s more: Anthony is going to connect existing individual contacts to the Cloud Kicks account. Connect, associate...you might even say...affiliate.

Contacts + Organizations = Affiliations

An affiliation is a Salesforce object that links contacts with organizations. It’s similar to Salesforce relationships, the difference being that a relationship is formed between two contacts and an affiliation is formed between a contact and an organization.

In NPSP, a contact can have multiple affiliations but can only have one primary affiliation (and it’s not required to have any). Although a contact can have only one primary affiliation, an organization can be the primary affiliation for many contacts. Many nonprofits use the primary affiliation for employer/employee connections, but it could be used for any important association between a contact and an organization. 

Here’s an example of how affiliations work for NMH: Erica Douglass is an employee at Cloud Kicks who volunteers at NMH and as a literacy tutor at the local library, because public libraries are awesome and Erica is awesome. Anthony wants to capture on the contact record Erica’s connections to both organizations, but also make sure that Cloud Kicks is the primary affiliation as her employer. 

Erica Douglass is a superstar.

Create Affiliations

So what about creating that affiliation? No problem. As the Program Director at NMH, Gordon Chu has been managing the relationship with Erica, so he’s going to take care of creating the affiliation. He can do it from an account or contact record. Whichever place he goes to create an affiliation, the object fields are the same and should be intuitive, but he needs to be careful with one field in particular: the primary affiliation checkbox. Each contact can only have one primary affiliation (though it’s not required to have any), so he needs to make sure he’s selecting the right organization as he creates the primary affiliation.

This is how to create an affiliation if you’re already logged in to NPSP (or another app):

1. Click the Contacts tab from the navigation bar, search for an existing contact, and select their contact record. Gordon is working from Erica Douglass’s contact record.

2. On the contact record, click Related.

3. In the Organization Affiliations, click New.

4. Fill out the New Affiliation form. The Organization field is required, but fill in everything you can.

The New Affiliation creation form.

5. (Optional) Check Primary.

6. Click Save.

A list of Erica Douglass’s affiliation records, including Cloud Kicks and the Sweetwater Library.

You can see affiliations in several places, the most common being a contact record and an organization account record.

Gordon created an affiliation between an existing contact and organization. There are other ways to manage this. You can also create an affiliation while creating a new contact or organization (which we demonstrated in a previous unit) by filling in the Primary Affiliation lookup field on the record. The process is similar to what Gordon did, but has a few extra steps. Follow the prompts in the flow and you’ll be guided through the process, step by step. 

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