LIVE from the Los Angeles Nonprofit Community Group

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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re live from the Los Angeles Nonprofit Community Group to hear a special panel of nonprofit admins put together by Laura Derby. If you’re in the nonprofit spaces or thinking about getting involved, tune in for some great insights from Laura Derby, Salesforce Admin at the Nature Conservancy and co-leader of the Los Angeles Nonprofit Community Group; Shay Davis, Salesforce Admin at the Assistance League; and Heather Hart, who has a new role as VP of Information Technology at the Huntington since this podcast was recorded.

Join us as we talk about how to fit everything into your budget, translate language like sales and leads to the nonprofit space, and how data modeling can work for these orgs.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Laura Derby, Shay Davis, and Heather Hart.

Getting comfortable at Dreamforce.

This week on the pod, we’re lucky to attend an Ask the Expert Admin panel with three experts in the field. Laura Derby is the Salesforce Admin at the Nature Conservancy and co-leader of the Los Angeles Nonprofit Community Group. She’s relatively new to the position, “but we primarily use the opportunities and contracts object to track land.” The Nature Conservancy will do things like pay farmers to intentionally flood their fields in order to protect a key bird habitat, and Salesforce helps them keep track of what they’re doing.

Shay Davis is Salesforce Admin at the Assistance League, having come over recently from the for-profit world. Her organization has 23,000 volunteers spread all over the United States, and their signature philanthropic program, Operation School Bell, addresses issues like literacy and hunger in local communities. “They brought me on because they said they have a lot of data in Salesforce but don’t know how to get it out, so I’m working on reports, dashboards, customization with click-and-pledge, screen steps, and more,” Shay says.

At the time of this recording, Heather Hart was the Director of IT and Salesforce Admin at the Broad Museum, a contemporary art museum in LA. “Our mission is to make contemporary art accessible to the broadest popular public, and we use Salesforce in a lot of ways to achieve that mission,” Heather says. Salesforce is their central database for collecting information about the general public, whether that’s ticket reservations, shopping in their store, or subscribing to their email newsletter. “Reporting is really important to us, and we want to know exactly how many people are coming and encourage them to come back.”

Like so many people on this podcast, Heather is an accidental admin. When she started she was the 7th employee and the museum was still under construction. “There was no infrastructure at all— we had a flash-based website,” Heather says, “it was a really great opportunity to build a really solid, integrated solution from scratch.” Because they decided that they needed to manage their data more effectively from the outset Salesforce was the obvious solution, so Heather went to an admin training and hasn’t looked back. The museum attracts 150,000 people a year with only 40 full-time staff members, and Salesforce is a big part of that.

Shay is also an accidental admin, getting her start in the world of education as an administrator at Pepperdine. From there, she worked for a for-profit test prep and admissions consulting company. “We had a Salesforce admin but he was also our developer and our Director of College Prep,” she says, “our instance needed some TLC so I took it upon myself to go through Trailhead and get certified, which brought me to my new role at a nonprofit.”

“I had familiarity with Salesforce but not as an admin,” Laura says, but she didn’t get a chance to dive into it until she became a temp at a grassroots environmental nonprofit. She happened to work for Paige Von Riper (who now works for Salesforce), “and they used Salesforce for everything.” They had a customized implementation that taught her a lot and helped her understand how powerful the platform truly was.

“The number one challenge with nonprofits is budget,” Laura says, and figuring out how to deliver those things to end users at minimal cost. “What’s so great about the Nonprofit Success Pack is it’s free. And you might want to have someone help you get started with it, but it’s great that you can continue using it and there’s all these great features, just like with regular Salesforce, that get updated three times a year.”

“Coming from for-profit,” Shay says, “the first week of looking at NPSP for the first time, I was a little taken aback because it looks so different.” You need to really understand what you’re looking at to know what type of data you need to get out of the system.

“For us, what we’re doing is so different,” Heather says, “we seem to attract people who think that we’re very unique and special, and our needs are somehow not at all related to the needs of all the other thousands of organizations who use Salesforce.” The challenge, then, is taking the language that nonprofits use and translating it to the language that Salesforce development uses. Even if a museum isn’t trying to “sell” things in quite the same way, there are tools out there that could be useful to them.

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