Explore NPSP Advanced Mapping

Learning Objectives

In this project, you’ll:

  • Learn how to extend NPSP Data Importer by using Advanced Mapping features.
  • Map standard fields and objects to the NPSP Data Import object.
  • Create custom fields and objects and map them to the NPSP Data Import object.
  • Modify the NPSP Data Import template to support additional fields and objects.
  • Complete two test imports.

Before You Start

There is one must-have before you take the challenges in this project: Make sure you complete the Install Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) into a Trailhead Playground project. The work you’ll do here builds on the activities you did in that project and will use the same Trailhead Playground. We recommend you use a new Trailhead Playground, or one recently created, for this project.

As a “nice to have,” we highly recommend you also complete the Import Your Data Using NPSP Data Importer project prior to starting here. The Import Your Data project teaches you the basics of how NPSP Data Importer works in preparation for the more complex data imports in this project. Plus, if you've completed the project recently, you can use the same Trailhead Playground for both projects because 1) you need NPSP installed in both cases, and 2) the steps in the two projects are compatible and will not interfere with each other.

Ready to try out the steps in this project? Open your Trailhead Playground from the Install NPSP project now by scrolling down to the hands-on challenge and clicking Launch to follow along with the instructions. You’ll also use the Trailhead Playground when it's time to complete the hands-on challenges in this project.

Beyond Standard Fields and Objects

As you know from the Import Your Data project, NPSP Data Importer works on many NPSP objects and fields without any additional configuration and comes with a handy import template to support that data. But what do you do if NPSP Data Importer doesn’t include the fields and objects your organization needs by default?

That’s the question the staff at the (fictional) nonprofit No More Homelessness (NMH) has been asking lately.

NMH has made steady progress toward their goal of getting all important data into Salesforce. They prioritized importing donor contact and past donation data from their legacy fundraising system, and now the next phase is donor and volunteer data from other systems and spreadsheets. Specifically, they would like to import:

  • Donors’ and volunteers’ preferred languages to contact records.
  • Email preferences to contact records.
  • Details about donor survey answers, completions, and acknowledgements.

Having this data in Salesforce will help NMH better communicate with their donors, stay compliant with email marketing laws, and manage donor surveys more efficiently. Fortunately, these needs can be met with Advanced Mapping.

In this project you’ll follow along with NMH’s heroic Salesforce Administrator, Gorav Patel, as he imports additional data into Salesforce.

NMH admin Gorav Patel in front of a flowchart

A Few Words About Data Safety

We’ll dive right into this project in our Trailhead Playgrounds, but you won’t want to do that in the real world.

Before you start any import, it’s important to make sure you protect the valuable operational data your organization stores in Salesforce. That’s why it’s always a good idea to follow these best practices:

  • Test your import in a sandbox first. Check out the sandbox documentation in Resources for more information.
  • Make sure you save an unedited version of the data. Always work from a copy while you format it in the NPSP Data Import template or another tool so you can reference the original source.
  • Back up your data before any major import and make sure you set up regularly scheduled backup exports of your data. (See the Export Backup Data from Salesforce link in Resources.)
  • When it’s time to start the import in production, start first with a single record before loading the full dataset to make sure everything works as expected.

Map Toward Your Goal

While the default settings for NPSP Data Importer work on many of the fields and objects you may have to import (see the full list at the Standard NPSP Data Import Fields link in Resources), they probably don’t cover every situation.

In those cases you'll use Advanced Mapping to create a connection between the fields on the NPSP Data Import staging object and the target fields on the objects where the data will be stored, such as contacts or opportunities. Those target fields can be standard Salesforce, part of NPSP, included in another managed package, or your own custom creations. The only requirement is that the target fields are directly related to accounts, contacts, or opportunities.

Generally, you’ll follow this process:

  1. Create the fields where you would like the data to be stored. We call those the target fields in this project.
  2. Create the corresponding fields on the NPSP Data Import object, which serve as staging fields to check your data before importing it to the target fields.
  3. Connect the NPSP Data Import staging fields and target fields with Advanced Mapping.
  4. Add the new fields to your import template and format your data for import. (You can start with the NPSP Data Import template.)
  5. Import the data to the NPSP Data Import object (the staging fields) using the Data Import Wizard or another tool.
  6. Check the import on the NPSP Data Import records by performing an optional import dry run.
  7. Import your data from the NPSP Data Import staging records to the target fields.

A process map showing the steps listed above

This process will stay the same in most situations, whether you are importing data to custom or standard fields on custom or standard objects. 

We’ll cover some example situations in this project, and you can find instructions in the NPSP Import documentation linked in Resources below for using Advanced Mapping in other situations.


NPSP Data Importer is a powerful tool on its own, but it’s also the engine behind processing records in Gift Entry. Advanced Mapping is how you can add objects and fields for that tool, as well. Check out the Configure Gift Entry link in Resources to learn more.

Take the Next Step

You’ll need NPSP installed in your Trailhead Playground for this project. If you’ve already completed the Install Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) into a Trailhead Playground project, select the Trailhead Playground you used for that project below and click Verify to check that NPSP is installed. If you haven’t, STOP and complete that project now, because you need those elements to move on.

In the next step, we’ll dive into mapping standard and custom fields on a standard object to NPSP Data Importer.


If you have questions about NPSP Data Importer after you complete this project, you can always turn to the community for help. If you work at a nonprofit or educational institution, check out the Data Import discussion topic in the Power of Us Hub. If you're a volunteer or looking to work more with nonprofits and educational institutions, check out the Nonprofits Using Salesforce group in the Trailblazer Community. Both are linked in the Resources section.


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