Meet Nonprofit Cloud

Learning Objectives

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

  • Define Constituent Relationship Management (CRM), Salesforce,, and Nonprofit Cloud.
  • List the three components that work together to form Nonprofit Cloud.
  • Name the value that forms the foundation of Salesforce technology.

First, the Basics

You might be thinking, "Nonprofit Cloud? How dreamy! But I thought I was going to learn about Salesforce and databases?” And you will be! Nonprofit Cloud is an end-to-end platform that helps break down silos between your fundraising, program management, marketing and technology teams. It allows you to have a single, shared view of your organization and all those associated with it, and ultimately helps nonprofits fund and run their missions. 

Maybe you’re familiar with Salesforce already or maybe this is the first time you’re hearing about it. Either way, you’re in the right place to learn about Salesforce technology designed specifically for nonprofits. To make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s take a quick look at some of the terms we’ll use to introduce the options for nonprofits:

CRM stands for customer relationship management, but in the case of nonprofit technology, think about it as constituent relationship management. A CRM is any system that keeps all constituent information in one place, giving an organization a single and reliable source for managing interactions and communications with the individuals, groups, and other organizations that are important to the team. 

Salesforce is the first company that took CRM to the cloud, enabling companies to access all of their customer information online, from any device, anywhere in the world. From the earliest beginnings as a young company, Salesforce committed to giving back to the community through technology awards, financial grants, and service projects. From that initial commitment, was born. is a dedicated social impact team within Salesforce that empowers nonprofits, educational institutions, and philanthropic organizations with the best resources to change the world. provides access to powerful technology, strategic community partnerships, and impactful investments that empower changemakers to build a better world. 

Nonprofit Cloud is a set of technologies and solutions that work together to help mission-based organizations connect with donors, track volunteers, manage campaigns, support clients, and manage nearly everything else they need to do to succeed.

Now that you’ve got the lingo down, let’s take a closer look at what it really means. 

Wait, What is Nonprofit Cloud, Exactly?

Nonprofit Cloud includes apps, tools, features, services, and technology that can meet the unique needs of nonprofits. The foundation of Nonprofit Cloud is an app called Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP). If someone says they are using the “nonprofit version” of Salesforce, they’re usually talking about NPSP. 

NPSP is likely the Salesforce technology you’ll interact with most often, but it isn’t the only one. Salesforce offers a suite of technologies that can be used out-of-the-box and that also function as a platform for customizing and building tools. NPSP is actually built on top of and adds functions to core Salesforce technology so it’s tailored to the nonprofit world. An app is a collection of items that work together to serve a particular function. In addition to popular Salesforce apps, an organization can extend the possibilities of the platform by building their own apps or using supplemental apps created by partner organizations. You can find many of these apps on the AppExchange, an open marketplace of vetted partners and tools if you need something in addition to NPSP. Many of the partners that build apps are also available to help with implementation or customization. 

The Nonprofit Cloud platform is composed of three primary components: Salesforce technology, technology, and partner technology.

These three major components of Nonprofit Cloud work together to give you a complete view of all of your data, be it about fundraising and grants, communication and marketing, or client services and community relationships. Connecting all the pieces of important information together and keeping it in one place gives you a holistic view of your organization, so you can better understand not just where you are today but where you can go tomorrow. 

Now that you know a bit more about what Nonprofit Cloud is, let’s take a look at what it can do for your nonprofit. 

Tackle Common Challenges with Nonprofit Cloud

Think about the way your organization works today. There might be a better way to keep track of constituents, appointments, events, resources, and all the other information your organization needs and manages. If any of these challenges sound familiar, your organization might benefit from a CRM: 

Donor or client info is all over the place. There's donor info on sticky notes, in spreadsheets, and in your email marketing system, making it really hard to understand their level of engagement or next steps. Program quality suffers because your team is not prepared for client meetings or able to fully track your services.

Team members operate with different or incomplete information. When constituent data is in different places, or in your staff's heads, important details go missing and collaboration breaks down. Many people operate without all the information they could have, leading to less-than-ideal decisions and interactions. And when someone leaves the organization, so does your data, despite your best efforts to document or transfer knowledge. 

Reporting on your impact feels impossible. You want to analyze your fundraising against your monthly goals, but you have to reference multiple spreadsheets. Or you have questions about how effective your services are, but you don't have the tools to understand their impact. When you're spending almost as much time compiling reports for board meetings or funders as actually delivering your services, it's time for a change.

You’re not sure how to handle growth. What happens when demand for your services surges? Will your current processes scale? If you don't have systems in place that can scale as your organization grows, you may not be able to meet an increasing demand for your services.

Scheduling meetings, appointments, and events is all manual. It's super efficient and fun to write everything on paper and then type it into your database, right? Many constituents expect to be able to schedule themselves online for appointments, consultations, and volunteer events—which saves everyone time and energy. And mobile is a must-have, not a nice-to-have. Organizations need to be able to use mobile devices to collect and manage information wherever they might be.

A harried nonprofit professional

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. These problems are common because nonprofits do demanding, critical work with limited resources. And these challenges are exactly what Nonprofit Cloud was designed to help solve.

A Foundation of Trust

Nonprofit Cloud can improve operational efficiency and strategic efficacy, but it’s not just about apps and tools and data management. Our values guide how we build the technology. 

Everything starts with trust at Salesforce. Whenever you see a Salesforce login page, you know that your data is secure, private, and accessible only to the right people, 24 hours a day. That’s because Salesforce runs on a “trusted multitenant architecture,” which means that all the organizations that use Salesforce run on the same version. Nonprofits run on the same version and get the same level of security and performance as some of the largest companies in the world. On top of this multitenant architecture sits “scalable metadata,” which is what allows flexibility and customization of the technology. 

Here’s an analogy to help explain the technical jargon: think about Salesforce like an apartment building. 

A multi-unit building, where occupants maintain their separate spaces, but enjoy the security of a structural architecture.

The design of the building itself is the architecture, giving tenants their own private space while allowing Salesforce to manage shared services like maintenance, power, and security. Your organization has its own apartment in the building. The building rules, the metadata, allow each apartment dweller to customize their space however they want. You can paint, lay down carpet, upgrade the kitchen—whatever your heart desires!

These concepts are important because it means that your organization can stay focused on the demands of daily life and trust that Salesforce is managing the infrastructure that keeps your system safe, secure, and up-to-date. 

Great Missions Deserve Great Technology is dedicated to putting the world’s best technology in the hands of nonprofits and educational institutions. We believe that technology is the most powerful equalizer of our time, providing access to data, knowledge, and connections. 

Our mandate is to help you meet your mission more effectively. Operating as a dedicated social impact team within Salesforce, we’re dedicated to creating technology specific to nonprofits on top of the world’s #1 CRM platform. Our relationship with Salesforce increases our capacity to innovate, providing nonprofits specialized tools that allows organizations to have a greater impact in the world. 

Through the Power of Us program, eligible nonprofits can receive ten Salesforce CRM licenses at no cost in addition to deep discounts on additional licenses, products, and instructor-led training. Review some of the resources below for more information.  

Technology, when used for good, can change the world, so let’s move on to see how Nonprofit Cloud can help you spend less time on administration and more time on what really matters: delivering on your mission.


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