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Salesforce NPSP Training Template

Customize this Salesforce NPSP training template and surface with Spekit to reinforce processes, promote best practices, and reduce errors.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to the Salesforce NPSP Training Template

In the non-profit world, processes and guidelines must be followed to the letter. Errors, missteps, and inaccuracies are costly and have a tremendous impact on the success of your non-profit. With Spekit, your NPSP users always know exactly how to complete a process, navigate NPSP, adopt your best practices, and follow compliance standards.

Contact Spekit to learn how to customize the following training template and surface this training exactly when and where it’s needed – directly within your own Salesforce NPSP instance.

2. What is Salesforce NPSP?

What is Salesforce NPSP and what is it used for?

The Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack helps nonprofit organizations start using Salesforce by providing pre-built configurations that a nonprofit will likely need. Salesforce NPSP includes:

  1. New custom objects like Relationships, Affiliations, and Payments.
  2. New custom fields on standard objects like giving history at the Account and Contact level, and donation information on the Opportunity level.
  3. New triggers (automation) which run based on the creation or editing of certain records, like creating a Household-type Account for new Contacts.
  4. Utilities to help users keep data clean, like mass-updating Opportunity Names to keep them consistent and enabling bulk entry of several donations at one time.

Who created Salesforce NPSP, and how is it updated?

NPSP is an open-source project maintained by a combination of Salesforce professionals and a volunteer community. NPSP has gone through multiple versions since its creation in 2008 as a community-led project. A full-time team at Salesforce helps strengthen and stabilize core features, and a volunteer community gathers a few times a year to work on new desired features which gradually make their way into the core package. Click here to learn more about how you can contribute to strengthening NPSP.

Salesforce NPSP FAQs

02.1. Why is Salesforce NPSP awesome?

Without NPSP, all nonprofits who want to use Salesforce would have to do an extraordinary amount of work to configure Salesforce (which is built as a business-to-business corporate sales database) to understand the unique nature of nonprofit fundraising and program engagement. By installing NPSP with a couple clicks, nonprofits can reap the benefits of more than a decade of work contributed by thousands of people, giving their Salesforce configurations a jumpstart toward functioning and feeling more like the ways they do their work.

02.2. How do I use Salesforce NPSP in a sentence to sound like I know what I’m talking about?

  • “We’re using Salesforce with NPSP installed. It’s really helpful for automatically setting up Households for our Contacts.”
  • “Email marketing isn’t a part of NPSP right now. We’d have to find a different application to use.”

02.3. What is the difference between NPSP and the Nonprofit Cloud?

  • NPSP is a software package that can be installed in Salesforce. Nonprofit Cloud is a suite of products from Salesforce targeted for nonprofits, including NPSP.
  • NPSP is free, but all other products in the Nonprofit Cloud are paid.
  • To learn more about Nonprofit Cloud, read up on this here.

02.4. What is the difference between Salesforce NPSP and the Power of Us program?

  • The Power of Us program offers 10 free Salesforce licenses to qualifying nonprofits.
  • Those nonprofits can optionally choose to use NPSP installed in their Salesforce (most do).

3. What is an Account in Salesforce NPSP?

What is an Account and what is it used for?

If you are using NPSP 3.0 and later, it is likely you are using the Household Account model (recommended by NPSP). In this model, an Account represents an individual Household or organization with whom your nonprofit has a relationship.

Household Accounts: Households are used to track and engage with donors, members, volunteers and other constituents that share a home with the same address.

  • Imagine having a Contact named Harry Potter. If his partner Ginny Weasley was also in your Salesforce as a Contact, they would both belong to the Harry Potter & Ginny Weasley Household Account. This would enable you to track any donations or membership dues that came in from their Household and to send a thank you letter with a warm greeting to both of them.
  • If Ginny Weasley was not in Salesforce, then your Harry Potter Contact would be placed in his own Harry Potter Household Account. You’ll notice that the “Account” on Harry’s Contact record is listed as his Household. Even though Harry doesn’t share a Household with anyone else in this scenario, every Contact in your Salesforce needs a Household to keep your data consistent and reliable.

Organization Accounts: Organization Accounts are used to track institutions such as foundations, schools, corporate donors, vendors, government institutions, etc.

  • Tracking these separately from Household allows you to separately report on Households (ex: giving via donations and membership dues) v. Organizations (ex: giving via grants and sponsorships).
  • NPSP also makes it possible for you to track Contacts’ Affiliations with Organization Accounts (ex: you can track a grant officer as a Contact in your Salesforce, the funding Organization (Account) they work for and information about their Affiliation with that Account such as their start date. Harry Potter can have an Affiliation record with Hogwarts and a Household of the Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley Household.

With NPSP you can relate records like Opportunities and Cases to a Contact and an Account. For example:

  • Imagine you’ve received a donation from Ginny Weasley. On the donation Opportunity you create in Salesforce you can track Ginny as the Opportunity’s “primary contact” since she sent you the check, but you always want to track Ginny and Harry’s Household as the Opportunity’s “Account” since she sent the check on behalf of both of them.
  • Imagine you’ve received a grant payment from a funder organization. It’s likely you will want to track both the grant officer (Contact) that sent it to you and the organization (Account) that it is from.
Salesforce NPSP Account Structure

Why did Salesforce NPSP create the Account Model this way?

Salesforce was initially designed as an application for companies to improve their sales process. As a result, the original Salesforce data model was focused on Account-to-Account relationships. The NPSP team redesigned this data model to enable you and your nonprofit to focus on your constituents – your Contacts – and to relate them to Accounts (Households and organizations) that are meaningful to them.


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03.1 When should I use a Contact vs an Account in NPSP?

A Contact is an individual (a donor, member, volunteer). An Account is an entity (a Household or Organization) to which you relate your Contacts.

  • Create a Contact record when you are adding information about an individual person (ex: with a first name, last name and email address). Create an Organization Account when you are creating a record of an institution made up of people.

4. What is a Household in Salesforce NPSP?

What is a household and what is it used for?

In your work, you may often think about and engage with your constituents in relation to other individuals with whom they share a home or family unit (ex: partners/spouses, parents, children, siblings, etc).

  • NPSP enables you to group these Contacts within a household Account and customize settings for that family’s household (their household address, mailing greeting, donations you’ve received from individuals on behalf of their household, etc.).
  • If a Contact does not share a household with any other individuals in your org, they will live in their own household record (as the only “Household Member”).

A Household is simply an Account with a record type of “Household”, although the functionality you gain from using households – especially for your fundraising teams – is powerful!

Salesforce NPSP Account

Why did NPSP create households this way?

The Household Account Model was designed to make it easier for you to:

  • Track and report on Contacts within a household
  • Manage settings for each household (ex: current and former addresses, which names should be included in a mailing greeting, etc).
  • Easily see aggregate information about records related to a household and its household members (ex: “total number of household members,” “household lifetime giving” or “total soft credits”)
  • Send warm and streamlined communications to families (via personalized greetings)


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  • Complete this Salesforce Trailhead challenge on households

04.1. How do I add Contacts to a household or split a household in NPSP?

NPSP comes with an easy-to-use interface to accomplish these goals. Go to a household record and click on the “Manage Household” button.

Follow these instructions.

How do I add Contacts to a household or split a household in NPSP

04.2. How do I make a Contact’s Address different from their household’s in NPSP?

When you add a Contact to a household, the Contact’s Address is inherited from the household Address by default. However, you can always make a Contact’s Address different from the household Address if need be (ex: if a child is living on a school campus but is still considered a part of this family unit). Go to the Contact’s record, click edit and check the “Address Override” checkbox you see below.

Salesforce NPSP Households Contact

04.3. If a Contact does not share a household with anyone, why does it still need a household?

This keeps your household Account management and treatment of your Contacts consistent.

Imagine you are sending out a holiday solicitation via direct mail. You’d like to send a personalized letter to all households that gave to your nonprofit this year. The report you run will need to include the “formal greeting” for each household. You’ll want to be able to merge in that same field on letters for both households with one member (ex: Dear Hermione Granger) and those with multiple (ex: Dear Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley).

5. What is a Contact in Salesforce NPSP?

What is a Contact and what are Contacts used for?

A Contact record stores data related to one individual constituent.

Contacts are also used to show an individual’s connection with an organization or with their household. NPSP recommends these basic configurations for how to work with Contacts:

  • Each individual constituent should be created as a Contact record in Salesforce.
  • Each Contact record should be related to one household Account.
  • Contacts can be related to each other through Relationship records.

Why did NPSP model Contacts this way?

The best explanation for this was written by NPSP: “Nonprofit, Education, and Membership organizations often rely on individual constituents to create strong and vibrant communities. These individuals might support or subscribe to an organization on their own or collectively, with a spouse and other family members. NPSP refers to these collectives as Households.”


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05.1. How do I make sure that my Contact is connected to the correct household?

If your org is using the Household Account model, then any time you create a Contact, a household will automatically be created for your Contact.

  • For example: Imagine creating a Contact for Harry Potter. The Harry Potter Household will be created for you and Harry Potter’s Contact will be automatically placed inside of that household.
  • If you’d like to move Harry Potter to be in the same household as Ginny Weasley’s Contact, click the “Manage Household” button on Ginny’s household Account. This interface will allow you to place Harry into Ginny’s household, and will automatically merge their households together as a result, updating their address, greetings and other settings.
Manage household in NPSP Training Template

05.2. How do I decide what data should live on a Contact vs. another object?

A good rule of thumb when thinking about what data lives on a Contact record is to ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Does this piece of information relate to this individual as a person, rather than their household or affiliated organization?
  2. Is this piece of information a trait which is relevant to who this individual is as a person, beyond a particular event, affiliation or other context?

If the answer is yes to both, then that data should live on the individual’s contact record.

Examples of fields that should live on a Contact record:

  • Birthdate
  • Cell phone number
  • Pronouns

Examples of fields that should not live on a Contact record:

05.3. What is a Contact record type? When should you use them?

Most organizations have a need to organize and categorize their contacts according to interests, groups, roles, or other things. There are a few ways to do that in Salesforce and your Salesforce Admin might have set categorization rules already, so ask your Admin first.

Contact record types are one of the ways to categorize your contacts. They determine which fields will appear on the page layout, can be used in different workflows and reports, and can be used to narrow down picklist values. Implementing them has long-lasting implications, so tread carefully here to think about if you absolutely require them or not.

One of the reasons you may avoid them is because as a nonprofit you might view your constituents as overlapping multiple categories at any given time. For example, a prospective fellow or program participant may also be a donor; boxing Contacts into strict categories may hinder our ability to follow up with them in dynamic ways.

06. What are Affiliations in Salesforce NPSP?

What are Affiliations and what are they used for?

An Affiliation is an NPSP object that links your Contacts with organization accounts.

  • Affiliations help you track how your constituents engage with companies and organizations. You may want to keep tabs on where they work, their alma mater, if they’re on another organization’s board, etc.
  • This comes in handy when you need a refresher of what’s important to a constituent and what their network looks like before heading into a meeting with them. Affiliations can also help you segment your Contacts for communications you are planning to send out (ex: if you want to send an email to all board members, or exclude anyone who work at a funder organization from an upcoming solicitation, or identify what university you have the most potential connection with for an upcoming campus program).
Salesforce NPSP Contact

Why did NPSP create Affiliations this way?

NPSP created Affiliations to enable you to both connect your Contacts with multiple organizations and connect organizations with multiple Contacts. In NPSP, a Contact can have multiple Affiliations, but can only have one Primary Affiliation (to highlight what we’d want to see front and center about them). One organization may be the Primary Affiliation for many Contacts. It’s also possible for a Contact to not have any Affiliations at all.


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06.1. When do I use an Affiliation vs an Account?

Ask yourself, “do I need to log how a Contact is affiliated with an organization?”

If you need to log information about the nature of a Contact’s connection with an organization (ex: their role, the status of that connection) – you are logging an Affiliation. If you go to create that Affiliation and “Hogwarts” is not an Account in Salesforce yet, you need to first create an organization Account, and then you can create the Affiliation between that new Account and your constituent.

06.2. What is the difference between an Affiliation and Relationship?

An Affiliation connects a Contact with an organization (Account). A Relationship connects two Contacts.

For example: In Salesforce, Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley both have a Relationship record logged on their Contacts detailing that they are current spouses. Maybe that record even includes their marriage date. Meanwhile, Harry and Ginny both have their own separate Affiliation records on their Contact records containing more information about their past and current work history.

06.3. What is a Contact’s Primary Affiliation and how do I change it?

Go to the Contact’s record and find the “Primary Affiliation” field. While a Contact can have multiple Affiliations, often it is helpful to mark just one of them as a Contact’s “primary” to make this clear on their record and easier for reporting.

  • Click on the “Edit” button to update the Contact’s Primary Affiliation. Depending on your Salesforce setup, you may or may not be able to access a Contact’s Primary Affiliation in this way. If you can’t, talk to your Salesforce Administrator.
  • Notice how when editing the “Primary Affiliation” field you are not asked to enter any other information about the Affiliation other than the organization Account. It is possible that your organization prefers that you go to the Contact’s Affiliations related list and create/update Affiliation records there since this is where you can add more details such as the Contact’s role and Affiliation status.
Primary Affiliation NPSP

7. What are Relationships in Salesforce NPSP?

What are Relationships and what are they used for?

Relationships are records that show how one Contact is connected to another. They can represent familial relationships, friendships, professional relationships, and more. You can use them to track the status of these relationships as well, so if two Contacts get divorced, you can simply change their “status” to be “former” so we don’t lose the history of their Relationship. (Of course you’ll also want to split their households!)

When you create a Relationship, a reciprocal record is automatically generated to show the reverse. So, if you create a Relationship between Lily Potter (the “Contact”) and Harry Potter (the “Related Contact”) with type “mother”, a reciprocal Relationship will be created between Harry Potter (“Contact”) and Lily Potter (“Related Contact”) with type “child”. Note: check with your Salesforce Admin for more information on how Relationships automation is configured for your org.

Why did NPSP create the Relationship functionality this way?

Relationships help you understand how your constituents are connected to each other so you can get a full sense of their network within your org. Since all Contacts are placed in a household, it is important to differentiate who is who in the household, and who a person knows beyond that household. It can very useful for sending personalized communication to someone, as well as leveraging your network to bolster volunteer recruitment or fundraising.


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07.1. How do I use Relationships in reporting?

Report Type: Contacts with Relationships

  • Enables you to see any Contact that has a Relationship.
  • Example: You are hosting an event for your current members and want to gauge how many attendees in total could attend if you invited all of their family and friends. You can use this Report Type to view a sum of all your members’ relevant Relationships.

Report Type: Contacts with Relationships and Related Contact

  • Enables you to see any Contact that has a Relationship as well as data that lives on the Related Contact.
  • Example: You are hosting an event for your current members and want to send invitations to their family members. Use this Report Type to view all the Contacts who have a Relationship with your members along with their email and address information. You can even filter further on “relationship type” and “status” to send the invitations only to a subset of those, like current spouses/partners.
  • Example: You need a report that shows all of your major donors’ close Relationships (immediate family or friends), including the related Contact’s Primary Affiliation. A report like this could help show your donor’s connections with other constituents who are potentially affiliated with new sources of funding. It helps you visualize just how extensive a network might be.

Cross Filters: With or without Relationships

  • Enables you to filter in a Contacts report based on someone’s Relationships if you don’t care to include Relationship data within the columns of the report itself
  • Example: You want to send an email recruiting young parents for a new series of parenting workshops being put on by your organization. You can pull a Contacts & Accounts report based on age, and add a cross filter to hone in on just Contacts with Relationships where the “type” is “child”. You don’t need to include the names or other details about the children themselves in the report, so this way you can stick with a simple report type while adding in a helpful layer of criteria.

Learn more about report types and cross filters by completing this Trailhead module.

8. What is a lead in Salesforce NPSP?

What are Leads and what are they used for?

A Lead is an object that enables you to collect data about a prospect before you’re sure that the person will have a lasting relationship with your organization. You have the ability to convert that prospect into a Contact, Account or Opportunity if/when you’d like to do that. NPSP provides you with a Lead conversion tool you can use to map fields on the records you wish to convert.

  • Leads are helpful when you want to keep your prospects separate from “actualized” constituents in your Salesforce.
  • You can use Leads to track an expression of interest (ex: applicants, recruits, potential donors, individuals who have filled out a form to learn more about you from your website) before you “qualify” them as reaching certain engagement milestones as defined by your organization.
  • For example: Harry Potter fills out your “Learn About Us!” form on your website but he hasn’t yet participated in any programs or donated to your organization. Your organization may prefer to keep Harry as a Lead until he takes an action that “qualifies” him as a Contact that shows up in your reports of more deeply engaged constituents.
Lead and Contact fields in Salesforce NPSP

Why did NPSP create Leads this way?

When used properly, Leads can help you and your team keep your Salesforce data organized. If your organization uses Leads, defining a clear Lead process (what qualifies as a Lead v. Contact, when and what to convert) – is key! Here are some more examples of how Leads are used.


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  • Practice creating and converting Leads

08.1. When do I use a Contact vs a Lead?

A Lead is simply a way to record that someone may be interested in working with or donating to your organization. A Contact is someone who has taken action to work with you or donate.

Ask your Salesforce Administrator about your organization’s specific definitions and processes related to Leads and Contacts. In general, Leads are more temporary than Contacts and typically capture less information. You can convert that Lead into a Contact when you determine that Lead is going to have a more long-term relationship with your organization. Many nonprofits choose not to use Leads at all since you’re often re-engaging individuals for multiple things simultaneously (ex: you may be trying to recruit someone for a program who is already a loyal donor, and you may consider someone a prospective donor year after year when new annual Campaigns begin).

Read up on this here.

<<Go back to the Leads Overview

9. How do I set up a seasonal Address if a household has one residence for a portion of the year and a separate residence for the rest of the year in NPSP?

In order to capture the changing Addresses of the traveling snowbird, seasonal Addresses can be created with specified start and end dates for a household Account (or organization Account if enabled). This will automatically adjust the mailing Address at the entered start date, and it will revert the Address back to the original after the entered end date.

Read up on this here.