Manage Donors, Tasks, Events, and Email

Learning Objectives

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

  • View and filter activity history in the Activity Timeline.
  • Create and update Tasks.
  • Work efficiently with Calendar Events and email.

Use the Activity Timeline to Keep Up-To-Date

On the right side of a contact, account, or opportunity record, you'll find a fundraiser's best friend, the Activity Timeline. The Activity Timeline makes it easy to review what’s been going on with a specific prospect, donor, or household even if they have been interacting with various folks throughout your organization.

Activity Timeline detail, showing Next Steps, Past Activities, Expand All, and More Steps

The timeline is divided into Next Steps (1) and Past Activity (2), so you can see what’s planned and what has already happened. If you need details about an activity, click the Expand (3) arrow next to the left of the activity, and click the arrow again to minimize the details when you’re done. You can also click Expand All (4) to see details for all the activities. See more of what’s coming up by clicking More Steps (5). Go further into the past by clicking Load More Past Activities (6) and then View All to see all of this prospect’s history.

Find the Activities that Matter Most

If you’ve been working with a donor (contact or household) or on a specific solicitation (Opportunity) for any length of time, you probably have a mix of activities in the activity timeline. How do you quickly find the details you’re looking for?

Our NMH Director of Development Aniyah wants to find a particular email that another staffer sent to a board member. She can use the filter feature to narrow her search. By filtering on Activity Type and Date Range, she can find the details she needs in no time.

Activity Timeline detail, showing filter options

As you review the list, you can update an Activity. From the Activity row, click the dropdown arrow and editing options appear.

Activity Timeline detail, showing the quick actions menu

Or, as you complete a Task, click the completion checkbox to mark it complete.

Activity Timeline detail, showing completion of a task

Aniyah has been busy updating individual records, but what if she wants to see a complete list of ALL she has to do across her donor and grants portfolio? In fact, she likes to start her day by logging into Salesforce and reviewing her list of things to do.

View and Update Your Task Lists

As mentioned earlier, when you start an Engagement Plan, it automatically creates and assigns a series of tasks to your team members. All the tasks assigned to you are easy to find and manage in Salesforce and NPSP. Just click the Tasks tab or click View All from the My Tasks list on the Lightning Experience Home page to manage all your tasks across various apps, objects, and records.

Tasks list and details

Another great aspect of the Tasks list is that while you see the list on the left, expanded details appear to the right for whichever task you have selected. Just click a task to open it and and see related info lined up on the right. There are several quick actions in the detail view that make it efficient to update tasks — just click the dropdown arrow to see the options. You can Change Status, Change Priority, Edit, and Delete. When a task is done, click Mark Complete to check it off your list and automatically update the Status field. Tasks are also shown in the Activity Timeline for the record you are looking at, and you can edit them there, too.

The menu and options on a task

Create a Calendar Event

Like Tasks, your calendar in NPSP has its own tab, allowing you to get to your schedule quickly.

The calendar view

Use the calendar icon menu to focus on only a Day, Week, or Month, and to see the Table list view of events. To create a new event, click New Event, or click the day and time the event starts and drag the cursor to the time the event ends. The New Event dialog box appears, with the start and end times already filled out. Enter the event details, including information for Repeat or recurring events, and click Save.

New Event creation form, including Subject, Dates, and Description fields

You can share your calendar and view your colleagues’ calendars from your calendar. Shared calendars make it easy to see when events overlap. For example, you can see when a colleague is busy so you can make sure she’s available for that day-long retreat in a windowless room on the nicest day of the year. Kidding! That never happens.

When a colleague views your calendar, the details they can see are determined by the default access level. To show a specific colleague more or fewer details about your schedule, click My Events in your calendar, then select Share Calendar. Keep in mind that your admin can limit the details that can be shared.

My Calendar detail highlighting the Share Calendar menu item

In addition to shared calendars, your admin can also add a customization that allows you to create public calendars. A public calendar can be shared with other individual users, personal or public groups, and specific roles in your organization. They're great for scheduling and managing group activities or shared resources, like events and meeting rooms. Talk to your awesome admin if you'd like to use public calendars.  

If you want to focus on just one calendar, click the colored squares for the other calendars to stop seeing them. Click the square again to make that calendar reappear. The color of each calendar is the color of the object it’s based on. If a custom object has a theme, the theme determines the color of the calendar.

Calendar view, showing only My Events

See Your Data as Events on a Calendar

A handy way to use a calendar in Salesforce is to view your data as events on a calendar. Aniyah, our NMH Director of Development, for example, wants to create a calendar to view upcoming solicitation (opportunity) due dates.

Let’s follow along as Aniyah creates a Calendar to help track this information:

  1. Click New Calendar.

My Calendar detail, highlighting New Calendar button

2. Choose an Object to base the Calendar on. Since Aniyah wants to see the due dates for upcoming grants and other solicitations, she chooses the Opportunity Object.

Create Calendar form with the Opportunity Object selected

3. Complete the form to determine what data the calendar displays.

New Calendar creation form

4. Click Save.

Calendar weekly view with Opportunity Due Dates

With her new calendar, Aniyah now has a bird’s-eye view of what deadlines she has coming up. It looks like she'll have a busy week getting prepared for her upcoming solicitations. Now she can plan accordingly and block out some time to craft the perfect pitch.


Email is still one of the primary ways nonprofits communicate with constituents and often important details or information gets lost in an individual's inbox. Tracking email communications within your CRM allows that information to be accessible to everyone in the organization who needs it.

There are a lot of ways to integrate email with NPSP, including apps for integrating Gmail, Outlook and other tools. Check with your admin to learn more about any integrations you might be using.

Aside from integrating your email, there are also several options for creating and sending email directly from Salesforce and NPSP. The Activity Composer on a record and the Global Actions menu are the options you’ll probably use most.

Activity Compose, highlighting the Email tab

NMH Director of Development, Aniyah, needs to send a reminder email to a donor for an upcoming tour of their new building. Follow along as she sends the email from Salesforce.

Click Email Quick Action to open the email composer (you don’t need to be on a specific record first). Your admin can customize the list of Global Actions you see, so your list might be a little different from the one you see here.

Global Action Menu, highlighting Email

Fill in the details. (1) Complete the 'To' field to be sure it’s going to the right person. After Aniyah sends the email, everyone with access to that contact record will see the email on the recipient’s activity timeline. (2) One of the first things you’ll notice is that you can relate the email to another record, like the opportunity you’re working on. In this case, the email is related to a capital campaign solicitation planned for this donor.

You can do even more than just send messages with the email composer: (3) You can add attachments, insert merge fields, insert or create templates, preview your email before you send it, erase what’s in the email and start over, and expand the email composer for more space.

Email compose detail

Finally, Aniyah clicks Send. Everyone on the Development Team who has access, including her Executive Director, will see the email in context and in the activity timeline when they look at the opportunity.

Opportunity Detail, highlighting Past Activities, including Email

We've followed Aniyah as she set up an Engagement Plan for her capital campaign prospect and spent time managing the myriad tasks and events associated with donor stewardship. She's now at the point in her process where she wants to start planning for the specific ask from this prospect.

Image of Aniyah holding a tablet speaking to a man outside a building which has a

In the next unit, we will take a look at key features in NPSP that can help Aniyah manage the actual solicitation process.