Scaling Salesforce as You Grow, Part 3 [Tech Tips]

Scaling Salesforce as You Grow

In my most recent post in this series, I covered considerations when setting up Multi-Select Picklists in to ensure your organization can scale in the future. What’s next?

Picklist Value Collisions: the “Both/And” Problem

Consider the following Contact Type picklist that might appear on a record:

  • Staff Member
  • Former Staff
  • Board Member
  • Former Board Member
  • Volunteer
  • Organization Liaison
  • Major Donor

This seems straightforward, and represents the gamut of how nonprofits understand people. But what happens if I’m both a Board Member AND a Major Donor? A Former Staff member AND a Volunteer?

Scaling to last for the long term should consider both the short- and long-term applicability of these values. Consider how features can be used for understanding your data from the perspective of what’s mutually exclusive and produces the easiest reporting benefits on your data.

Based on knowing all these things about your people, here’s what I’d suggest as your new Contact Type picklist values:

  • Staff Member
  • Board Member
  • Former Board Member
  • Organization Liaison

These are all mutually exclusive values, because generally nonprofit staff members are not both Staff and Board Members, and Board Member relationships are closer and more important to your organization than simply knowing that person as an Organization Liaison (usually Board members are courted for their existing relationships to other organizations or the sector in which a nonprofit operates).

Where did everything else go? Here’s a breakdown:

  • Former Staff Member: This can now be a checkbox, and a Validation Rule can exist to prevent it from being checked when the Contact Type picklist is “Staff Member.” People are or are not Former Staff, and a former staff member can concurrently be a Volunteer or Board Member.
  • Volunteer: This can now be a checkbox so that it can also exist concurrently with other categorizations such as Former Staff or Board Member.  If you need further definition, consider a separate “Volunteer Type” single-select picklist in its place, or pair the high-level checkbox with a dependent multi-select picklist of volunteer types for lower-level granularity.
  • Major Donor: It’s gone. Why? Because Major Donor is a moment in time for the person that may or may not be repeated.  Use reporting to determine who these folks are, versus a picklist value that someone may forget to change or update as time goes by, causing the value to become diluted and lose meaning.

How your contacts change their relationships with you over time can give you clues as to how to correctly use features to categorize them.  And, the long term benefit is fewer data entry and maintenance errors, and easier reporting for your organization because the highest level categorizations are mutually exclusive.

Lastly, if you’ve ever considered titling a checkbox “Sally Jones’s List” or directly adding staff/board names as picklist values, let’s talk. Share your thoughts in the comment section below. I promise there’s a way to represent this as a function rather than a person in your instance!

Watch The Connected Cause for the next post in this series, in which I’ll cover Activities.

Looking for more? Check out the first 2 posts of this series:

Tracy Kronzak

About Tracy Kronzak

Tracy is a CRM implementation strategy, change management, and organizational leadership and technology adoption expert. She has more than 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and its related industries, including philanthropy, activism, research, technology management, and Salesforce CRM platform consulting. She holds a Master of Public Administration degree from New York University, and is a Certified Administrator and Developer. Tracy frequently presents on CRM selection/implementation and technology strategy, and is a proud member of the NTEN Community, serving in an advisory capacity to the NTC and Leading Change conferences. In August 2014, Tracy was recognized by the Salesforce Foundation as one of 30 Community Heroes for her contributions to the advancement of nonprofits using In her free time, she is a ceramic artist and potter, avid bicyclist, and burgeoning markswoman.

One comment

  1. Great post! It always surprises me when people want to use a checkbox for a specific list rather than just using Campaigns. Campaigns are super powerful.

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