Find What You Need

Learning Objectives 

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

  • Use global search effectively. 
  • Find recent items quickly in instant results.
  • Filter search results to find the right record.

Welcome! This module is chock full of pro tips for productivity in Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), and we’re delighted to share them with you. You’ll see the power of global search at work in some common scenarios to help you find what you need quickly. You’ll also learn some clever ways to use the Salesforce platform to enhance your efficiency with NPSP. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Being efficient is important when you want to maximize your nonprofit organization’s impact. 

That’s certainly true for Sofia Rivera, a Development Associate at the (fictional) nonprofit No More Homelessness (NMH). She’s a key part of the small-but-mighty team at the growing organization and responsible for interacting with donors and keeping data in Salesforce accurate and up to date. Sofia is pulled in a lot of different directions each day, so she wants to get each job done quickly so she can move on to the next task in service of the mission. (Maybe you can relate.)

One of the best tools in your Salesforce instance is global search. Knowing how to use this tool effectively will save you time and headaches—and it will help keep your Salesforce data clean! 

Global search on an NPSP homepage

Give Me the Latest

Sometimes, you just need to get back to what you were working on last. Global search has you covered!

When you start any search by clicking the global search bar at the top of the page, a dropdown of your five most recent items appears. This list of instant results includes any records that you’ve recently visited and gives you a shortcut to get back to them quickly.  

A list of recently visited records appears when the cursor is in the global search bar.

The colorful icons to the left of each record in the list indicate what kind of object each item is. As you start typing in the search bar, possible matches appear based on your input. At NMH, Sofia is looking for a donation made by Robert Bullard—and results start populating before Sofia’s even finished typing Robert’s name. (That’s the instant in instant results!)

Search instant results for Robert Bullard with only “Robert Bu” entered in the search bar

If you know the type of object you’re looking for—like a contact, an opportunity, or an account—you can use the dropdown menu on the left to limit your search to a specific object type.

The global search filter menu



Need a refresher on objects in Salesforce and NPSP? Check out the unit on organizing your data in the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) Basics module linked in the Resources below.

For now, Sofia keeps All selected so she can search across all objects and see what the results return for Robert Bullard. After entering Robert Bullard’s name and pressing Enter, the results page looks something like this.

The full search results page, with filters on the left side and grouped results on the right

The Search Results panel on the left shows how many records returned with the information you entered, organized by object. The most frequently visited items are at the top in Top Results (1). Details about these records appear in the main window. If you want to zoom in on a specific object, like Contacts or Campaigns, you can click that object’s name (2). Within the search results table, you can click a column header to sort (3), adjust column widths and clip or wrap text, and select any result to jump right to that record (4).

It’s important to note that the information displayed here can be customized by your admin, such as the fields that appear in each object’s section in the main window. (Just another reason to become good friends with your admin!)

Let’s Get Specific

Sofia is interested in another donor now—Candace Evans—and the gifts she’s given recently. One quick way to do that would be to select Opportunities from the global search filter and search for her name and any other information you have about the donations, such as the date the donation was made or the amount.

A list of recently visited opportunity records showing donations made by Candace Evans

But say you can’t quite remember when she made the donation or how much she gave. In this case enter her name and tap Return or Enter on your keyboard.

Search results page narrowed down by opportunity

Then, on the search results page click Opportunities (1) on the left side. This takes you straight to all of the donations made by Candace.

Now that we’re zeroing in on the opportunity object, filters appear on the left under Refine By (2). These filters allow you to further refine your search.

There are different filters for different objects. On the opportunity object you can refine your search by name, minimum and maximum amounts, stage, closed date, and record type. Cool, right?

You might be wondering, “What happens if I misspell a word in search?” or “What if I’m not sure how to spell a name?” Salesforce has enabled search features like spelling correction so that the search returns results for similar or related terms. (This depends on the object you’re searching, so check out Why Do I See Unexpected Search Results for Similar Terms? in the Resources below for the full story.)

Get in the habit of using global search all the time! You’ll find existing records faster, and you’ll also help keep your data squeaky clean. It’s important to search before you create a new record as this helps reduce the chance of creating a duplicate. Duplicate records are confusing and lead to inaccuracies, so it’s best to avoid them before any are ever created. 


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