Salesforce Explorations for Non-profits

A couple of weeks ago I started working with a local non-profit. They needed help with customizing Salesforce to keep track of their various volunteers, donors, event participants, and such. Salesforce is one of those SaaS apps I’ve been interested in getting my hands dirty learning. Perfect for both of us!

The first thing that struck me was how much access the developers have with the database. Pretty cool. At least for someone coming from a database admin/developer background. On the other hand I could see why my client found the application so confusing. There is a lot of functionality being exposed.

I did have to do some experimenting (nice to have sandboxes to play in!) Figuring out what table were being used for what data was a big one of course. And for some reason it took me a while to get myself clear on when I was looking at a field list for a page and a field list for a table.

The other confusing thing I ran into had to do with an add-on package for non-profits using tables for data that didn’t quite make sense. Auction items and values being stored in the Opportunity table. Basically, it was the result of an adaption of a database designed to support data needs for sales and marketing professionals.

I think a new table for non-profit donations might have made things clearer. It’s workable though and I don’t have a lot of hours to devote to a comprehensive customization so we’ll make it work. And I’ll just have to keep suppressing my urge to normalize the base tables and put the custom fields in new tables with easier to recognize names.

It is fun to be wading back into the world of databases! Looking forward to figuring out how they work with Quickbooks. Thankfully, Salesforce has pretty good documentation online.

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