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What Doesn't Kill Us

Five Signs Your Nonprofit’s Database Isn’t Keeping Up

Nonprofits are in the business of making change. And sometimes that change is happening right within your own organization — in how you do your work, manage your projects, take care of your data, and more. So often, this internal change is the kind that growing nonprofits have the least time and resources to anticipate. As you do your good work in your community, what are some signs that your nonprofit database is keeping up, or not? How do you make sure your technology is growing and changing as your mission does?

This is one of the many reasons we believe that databases are more than a one-time project. A database isn’t just a tool implemented once — like a good relationship, it needs care and attention so you can continue to rely on it. Here are five signs it might be time to devote some fresh attention to your database and how it’s working for your organization. Think of it as spring cleaning for your technology!

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Finding Peace with Your Data: A Worksheet & Mindfulness Practice

It’s not always easy to find peace with your data. How many times have you run away screaming from your computer in agony over a report you needed to create or data that was incorrectly entered? I bet it’s quite a few. Finding peace with data isn’t always a straight path. Often, it’s a curvy path filled with potholes and knotty bushes. Along the way, I believe there can be compassionate pauses where we set intentions, reconnect with our hopes for the work, and engage our team mindfully. Whether you’re cleaning up data in your Salesforce instance or setting intentions for another database project, I hope this worksheet and mindfulness practice (both free downloads, below) will help you move into the work with more awareness and peace.

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Sherpa

Dreamforce is a family reunion of sorts

Typically, when I return home from a conference I am so physically and mentally exhausted that I need at least a week to recover. This year, my return from Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce conference, left me with a different feeling. While I was still physically and mentally exhausted, I didn’t need a week to recover. In reality, I felt more alive and invigorated than ever, even after a full week of meetings, interactions and late nights.

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tech devices

Gates of Speech in the 21st Century

Social media has transformed our communities and our communication landscape. Now more than ever, we are connected with so many individuals all over the world. Communicating instantaneously. Sharing our thoughts as soon as they arise. Sometimes our words are kind and supportive, other times, we struggle to find the right words. And, at times, our interactions can be less than nice. How many of you have been on the receiving end of hate or anger filled speech? It has happened to me on occasion.
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Gabriel’s Database Sherpa and Salesforce.com Journey

When I first started my Salesforce.com journey, I knew next to nothing about databases. I grew up in the digital age, so I certainly know my way around a computer, but I’ve never been crazy about them. I prefer my social to be unmediated, whenever possible. Read more

Training & Workshops

Nonprofit Starter Pack Account Models – IT MATTERS!

Do you wonder about the Nonprofit Starter Pack Account Models? Do you wonder if it really matters? Well, Caroline Renard and I realized after the webinar we gave about the NPSP 3.0 Upgrade, that there was a need for folks to truly understand NPSP Account Models.

We decided to record a conversation we had about the three accounts models in the Nonprofit Starter Pack and explained WHY IT MATTERS. Hope you enjoy this video.

What Doesn't Kill Us

Salesforce Process Builder Delivers The Promise of Clicks not Code

I’m proud of my latest blog post as a guest blogger with PICNet. It’s all about DIY and specifically, how to use Salesforce Process Builder tool to help you with developing business process without writing code!

I love the mantra “click not code”, so take a gander and develop one for your organization. If you do create one, I’d love to hear from you.

 

Salesforce DIY for nonprofits

I Inherited This Salesforce Instance — Now What?

As User Group leaders, Ashima and I are often talking to nonprofit staff who have “inherited” a Salesforce instance, and don’t really know what to do with it. That’s to say, they’ve started a new job at a nonprofit, most likely in fundraising, and because they have some experience or aptitude for technology, they’ve been also asked to “sort out Salesforce”. Maybe the organization had previously hired a consultant, or had benefitted from the help of a skilled volunteer, and now the staff who were part of the original implementation have moved on, there’s little documentation, and no-one’s quite sure what the next steps should be.

In some ways, it’s harder to help someone who is new to an existing Salesforce implementation than it is to help someone who has just signed up for a new trial. There are plenty of resources for the organization that is starting out with Salesforce: workbooks, videos, classes, and a supportive community ready to assist “newbies” online. And for those of us who do help out, it’s easier to answer questions about brand new instances – we are all familiar with how a trial looks before customization, and we know which features will be there with a fresh start.

Providing help for a new user inheriting an established Salesforce instance can be trickier, because the user probably doesn’t know how best to describe what customizations have been done or what packages are installed. So it can take more time, and a series of questions and answers, to diagnose problems or provide specific help.

With this in mind, Ashima and I are creating a workshop designed specifically for new staff members who find themselves in a Salesforce admin role with no-one to train them for it. We’ve called the workshop “I Inherited a Salesforce Instance, Now What?“, and we’ll be offering it for the first time on Thursday, December 11.

We’re still finalizing the “script”, but the aim of this session is to give a new admin a set of tools to discover what they have inherited, and how much attention they might need to give to it.

  • We’ll show how to figure out which versions of which packages are installed, what’s been custom-built, how many active users there are, how much data there is, and if that data is reasonably clean and tidy.
  • Then we’ll give advice on how to upgrade or update any features that need it, and on data clean up. (We’ll also help participants decide if they can do this themselves or bring in an expert!)
  • Finally we’ll discuss ways to improve user adoption, including a few simple customization tricks to amaze and delight!

There will be a long enough break in the middle of the session to allow each participant to use the “discovery checklist” with their own organization, and come back and share with the rest of the group what they have found out. The whole session will be recorded and resources will be shared with participants.

So if you’ve recently been landed with a Salesforce instance in your new job, and you’re not sure what to make of it, please consider joining us on December 11th. We can’t promise to teach you absolutely everything that we both know about Salesforce in three hours, but we will try and give you enough knowledge to see how much (or little) attention your Salesforce instance needs, and prepare you to ask the right questions and take the most effective next steps. Or if you have a friend or colleague who would value this kind of help, please tell them to sign up.

All the details, including cost, are on the registration page.

Taking Care of Yourself at DreamForce

DreamForce is upon us. Thousands of us will be convening in San Francisco. I find the experience both overwhelming and fun: parties, events, sessions and so much more. There are blog posts galore about getting the most out of DreamForce. Salesforce even offers one: http://www.salesforce.com/dreamforce/DF14/journey/

However, I’d like to offer something a bit different, I’d like to talk less about the sessions and more about how to care for yourself at DreamForce. I mean, after all, if we don’t take care of ourselves, what is the point of attending?

Here are some tips that helped keep me sane at past DreamForce events:

  • Hydrate, choose comfort and lighten the tech – The campus for DreamForce is huge – http://www.salesforce.com/dreamforce/DF14/journey/. Be sure to bring good walking shoes. Your feet will thank you. Carry a water bottle with you; there are refilling stations all over. Leave the laptop behind and lighten your load.
  • Find space for yourself – You will be learning a lot of new things during the conference. It’s very important to find a space where you can digest all of this new learning. The DreamForce location is surrounded by beautiful parks where you can sit and relax. Take time to jot down notes and thoughts during these times of rest.
  • “I cannot attend it all” – This is your new mantra. Accept the fact that you will miss something, and that’s okay. There is so much happening, it is impossible to attend it all, so enjoy what you are able to get to and don’t worry about those things you think you are missing.
  • Enjoy the pause between sessions – Try not to jump right into work or something else if you find yourself in a lull. It can be easy to do, but take those brief pauses as a chance to recharge yourself for the next session. It’s your opportunity to just be.
  • SLEEP – Rest is critical for your brain to recharge and rejuvenate. Some may say to you, “oh, I can sleep when I get home”, but remember, you need sleep to retain and hold all that great information you are receiving. Don’t throw it away. I’m not saying skip the parties at night, but do plan to get the rest you need so you are refreshed the next day. I was known to take naps during downtimes so I could attend evening events.
  • Smile and enjoy yourself – Try to enjoy all the moments. Often at conferences we are so busy rushing from one location to another that we forget, we’re all here together with a shared purpose. Let’s enjoy this space with each other.

I hope these tips will make DreamForce an enjoyable experience for you — a moment that you feel like you were able to really enjoy, and learn something new at the same time.