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Manage Nonprofit Programs with Salesforce

Learning Objectives

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

  • Describe how organizations use Salesforce to manage and optimize program delivery.
  • Explain how Program Management Module (PMM) helps nonprofits measure and manage their programs more effectively.


This module jumps right in with Program Management. If you haven’t already completed the Nonprofit Cloud Basics module, we recommend you go there first.

Mission: The Center of Your Organization

Programs are the core of every mission-driven organization. They’re the how that answers why your nonprofit exists.

Program and service delivery depends on the ingenuity, dedication, and energy of your entire program team. It requires an ability to translate a mission into real-world action, identify the right population for service, vet and retain volunteers, find affordable and functional resources, and collect and analyze data that demonstrates impact.

And while you may be changing the world and moving mountains—or, if you work for an environmental group, keeping those mountains right where they are (thank you!)—that doesn’t mean that managing your programs has to be grueling. You make progress on your mission when you spend your time on fulfilling your goals, not sifting through spreadsheets.

Enter Salesforce.

NMH staff help clients at the food pantry.

Many Goals, Many Paths

Every organization is different, and the way you use Salesforce is likely going to be different, as well. There’s no one, correct answer.

The recommended path for nonprofits that want to manage their programs in Salesforce is to start with Program Management Module (PMM), then add additional apps created by Salesforce or one of our partners, or create custom solutions specifically tailored to a nonprofit’s mission. A combination of these three options give a nonprofit the tools it needs to run its programs with Salesforce.

Let’s take a look at these options.

Using Program Management Module (PMM) gives you a simple, open-source Salesforce app and data structure that comes with the objects that you need to manage your programs and services. PMM is the foundation on which you build all of your program data and processes in Salesforce. PMM also comes with a few example reports and dashboards that you can use out-of-the-box and quickly apply to your mission. (More on that later in this module. Stick around!)

Installing an app from the AppExchange, our marketplace of solutions from Salesforce and our partners, bundles together custom Salesforce fields, objects, and more to fill a specific function or need. After you install PMM, you could add AppExchange apps to add surveys, integrated forms, petition management, ticket sales, and much more to your programs in Salesforce. You can browse the AppExchange by clicking the link in the Resources section below.



One app to consider is Nonprofit Cloud Case Management, a Salesforce app built on PMM that helps case managers and their organizations streamline workflows and keep client needs front and center. Check out the module linked in the Resources section below to learn more.

Customizing Salesforce is a good way to get everything just the way you want it. This is your next step after installing PMM and looking for ready-made solutions in AppExchange. What you create will be perfectly tailored for your programs, your staff, and—most importantly—your mission. And, just like an expertly tailored garment, this will take time and skills from someone with experience—like a great Salesforce Admin or partner—and a bit of maintenance to keep it looking sharp.

If you’re working with a consulting partner or a skilled internal team, they will guide you to the right combination of these options for your specific needs. While any combination of these options might be right for your nonprofit, PMM is designed as the foundation for managing programs in the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP).

Program Management Module Basics

So, why start with PMM?

PMM gives you a baseline to get your programs up and running in Salesforce more quickly. It can be adapted to fit the needs of different nonprofits, so instead of customizing your existing Salesforce org from scratch, you get a head start on tracking your work. It allows you to define your organization’s programs and services, connect clients to those mission areas, and use out-of-the-box reports that can help you with your everyday work—from when it’s time to evaluate performance to report to a donor, and everything in between.

PMM is designed to work in any Salesforce environment and uses standard objects like accounts and contacts, but it works best with the NPSP. Using PMM with NPSP enables you to record data for program management, such as tracking households and client relationships with each other.

PMM is also a foundational element for other program management tools, such as the Nonprofit Cloud Case Management app. What’s more, adding PMM to your org will give you access to the latest features as they come out, because we’re always innovating and adding new functionality to help program managers.

The PMM homepage

The Building Blocks of PMM: Programs, Services, and More

PMM gives you five new custom objects to drive your mission. Let’s look at these objects and what they record.

What it does
Programs are the highest-level objects in PMM, usually focused on a thematic area like workforce development or housing. Programs are the objects that tie everything else in PMM together.
Program Engagements
Program engagements track the relationships between programs and clients. That client could be a person, a place, an account, or a thing (hooray, nouns!)—really who or whatever you serve. Each engagement collects services and details about a connection to a program over time.
Program Cohorts
Program cohorts allow you to track a group of program engagements, which may be helpful when looking at clients who start a class at the same time or grouping different engagements that happen at the same location.
Services are the activities that make up your programs and how you measure what you do. A service could be teaching a class, delivering meals, organizing neighborhood meetings, or whatever your nonprofit does to serve your mission. There can be, and usually are, several services in the same program. Each service has to have a unit of measurement, like hours of instruction or items distributed.
Service Deliveries
Service deliveries record a single instance of a service, including when and how much of a service was given. For example, 30 minutes of coaching or 15 items from a food pantry. This information is key for reporting.

How do all of these objects fit together? Check out the diagram below.

The data structure for PMM

If an example of PMM in action at a nonprofit is more your thing than a data diagram, keep reading. There’s one more core concept to cover, and then we’ll show you how it all comes together with an example in Unit 2.

Securing—and Sharing—Program Data

One of the benefits of using Salesforce for tracking program data is the security it provides, but you have a role to play, too. It’s important to make sure that you protect your data—and your clients and organization—by following a few proven steps to secure it. No matter your cause, make sure that your data is only accessible to the right people inside your organization to keep the trust of the people you serve and your donors.

Gia and Gordon near a safe, arms crossed

First, make sure everyone using Salesforce at your organization has their own unique login and that you aren’t sharing accounts. Your admin should also control access to data through roles, profiles, and permission sets to make sure only the right people on your team have access only to the data they need.

PMM can help with three new permission sets right out-of-the-box to help you keep your data secure.

Who it’s for
Program managers and directors who need to set up programs and services, plus create program engagements, program cohorts, and service deliveries. This level is for anyone setting the direction of your programs or overseeing day-to-day work.
Front-line service providers and case managers who work hands-on with your programs. This level lets users see programs, program cohorts, and services, but not modify them. These users can create and modify the program engagements and service deliveries as they need to in their everyday work.
Executive staff or others who need visibility into program performance and client services but aren’t engaged in delivering your services in any way. This is only to view, but not modify or create, any data. Still, it’s a good idea to give this level of access to only the people who really need it to keep your data secure, especially if you are working with sensitive client information.

Working with really sensitive information? In addition to the security tools we’ve already discussed, your admin can also use field-level security or sharing rules for even more granular control. And if you serve clients who wish (or need) to remain anonymous, you can track that using a generic contact record and household. Head over to the Program Management Module group in the Power of Us Hub for discussions on this topic (linked in the Resources section below).

Now that you understand the basics of PMM and how you can use it to manage your programs and services, let’s see how it all comes together. Let’s visit our fictional nonprofit, No More Homelessness (NMH), to learn how their team uses PMM to manage programs and services.