Case study: women's services center switches to NPSP Household model

Profile picture for user Kirsten Kippen
By: Kirsten Kippen | 9.14.16

“NPSP 3 is so much more comprehensive and well thought-out for nonprofits: it really opened the door to getting everything structured properly.”


The mission of Oregon-based Clackamas Women's Services (CWS)  is to foster self-empowerment of women and children so they can establish lives free of domestic and sexual violence. CWS offers education to Clackamas County residents about the issues surrounding domestic and sexual violence while using cutting-edge practices to increase the number of families they can serve and improve their participant's experience. Part of this commitment to cutting-edge practices includes using Salesforce to the fullest of their ability.


CWS had been using Salesforce with the One-to-One Account model in the Nonprofit Starter Pack 2.0 since 2013. They recently came to Idealist Consulting because they were interested in completing an upgrade to the latest version of the Nonprofit Starter Pack and shifting from the One-to-One Account model to the Household model in order to better understand their interactions and engagement with their donors.


Clunky: didn’t make sense for nonprofit process

When Development and Communications Director, Chris Wilhite, joined CWS he quickly realized that their One-to-One and Bucket Account model structures were flawed and would not work in the long run. In 2014 CWS was running a major donor campaign that was awkward and clunky when it came to tracking major donors and household giving. CWS would try to build a report with all giving history by organization, but they couldn’t include households and thus had to use different reports all the time, which was irritating and confusing. He knew there had to be a better way and was confident that Salesforce could help.


More logical, better reporting

With the household model, two different but related individuals might give but the total amount they contribute is credited to the household, similarly to an organization that donates. As Wilhite says, “To me it just makes sense to treat households like a type of organization.”


The main goal CWS was hoping to achieve by upgrading to NPSP 3.0 was cleaner donation reporting. Idealist Consulting helped CWS to identify data that needed to be fixed in the system prior to the update, and then sent CWS a data set that had problems with specific instructions on how to fix it.


“Idealist Consulting was just really clear, quick and efficient, and also very thoughtful about explaining the new features in the Nonprofit Starter Pack.”


CWS has also been impressed with the naming tool which is much easier than having to set up a workflow or trigger. Before, if CWS wanted to rename a bunch of donations based on record type, they would have to export all donations, do complex excel work with formulas and merge fields in order to create new names. This would take several hours. Now with the naming tool, they don’t have to do this every year: they just set the naming once, and it’s done forever. The Household account model makes this much more accessible than past releases.  Another favorite feature is the ability to easily set up different layouts for different objects: having different layouts for household and organization accounts allowed CWS to grow as an organization.  


“NPSP 3 is so much more comprehensive and well thought-out for nonprofits: it really opened the door to getting everything structured properly.”


NPSP 3.0 also includes fields for grant proposals and deadlines. When CWS discovered this they began using it right away. This simple upgrade turned out to have a whole host of impactful features.  


Unexpected side benefit: improved moves management

There also were benefits to how they facilitate moves management. Now when CWS is working on multiple gifts from one household, they are able to update and track progress in a single household record, rather than entering multiple soft credits as they used to do. The Household model works great with the moves management approach because Chris can track who he has talked to in the household and follow all touchpoints in a single record.


How does this look in practice? CWS created a custom field called “Purpose” in the Activities object which is a picklist with the moves management elements: Identify/Introduce, Information Exchange, Cultivate Interest/Relationship, Involve, Invite/recruit, and Ask for a gift. These detailed stages provide more helpful information than the previous options of just scheduling a meeting, thanking, or following up.


Recently, Chris created a set of reports and dashboards that track the Moves Management approach to gift stewardship. He runs a series of Activities with Donations reports showing the team’s activities, filtering for gifts of $1,000 or more, and purpose equaling whatever the level of cultivation, e.g. Inform, Involve, or Invest, etc. In this way he can track basic interactions and begin to see trends.


Strong User Adoption and ROI

User adoption with the NPSP 3 upgrade has been smooth for CWS. There are only a total of four primary staff users plus some occasional secondary staff users who regularly interact with Salesforce. While the staff had to acclimate to the upgrade, they generally they found the changes easy to navigate.


“They just ran with it..If anything, the household model is easier to train on,” says Wilhite. CWS has followed a champion approach where Wilhite, as the person on staff with the most Salesforce knowledge, mentors his colleagues. He recommends that you make sure you have one person who is a Salesforce pro or at least not afraid to learn and tinker around to create custom objects and fields, in order to use it to its greatest advantage. The ideal champion for a Salesforce project is someone who both has strong nonprofit skills in an area like communications or moves management, and also some technical aptitude for Salesforce.


Wilhite knows they will recover the upgrade costs within a few years. Through increased efficiency, better tracking and reporting functionality, and the worker hours saved from the added features, CWS can do more work with less operating costs.   He would recommend the NPSP upgrade and household account model switch to any nonprofit that has significant major donor gifts that they want to cultivate through a household or moves management approach: “It makes our lives easier, we get more done, and we get it done with higher quality - to me this upgrade has been well worth it. Now our staff can make donor asks with the full context of the relationship behind them.”


What’s next

As CWS looks to the future, Wilhite feels with just a little more time in the day to focus on streamlining Salesforce data, they would have everything they need to be a really strong development team. “Now I feel I have a firm foundation: the Nonprofit Starter Pack created access to some areas of Salesforce that were more intimidating but now I feel more confident and forward-looking.”



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