SF1 for Nonprofits: Highlight on Communities

SF1 for Nonprofits: Highlight on Communities

If you’ve been following the news about Salesforce1 for Nonprofits lately, you know that “Engage and Strengthen Communities” is one of the four pillars of this new strategy, and the focus of the Salesforce Foundation’s first Solution Kit.

At Idealist Consulting we recently featured Salesforce Communities in our Emerging Solutions webinar series, and wanted to share some of the highlights from that webinar. Whether you’re contemplating Communities or currently have a Portals solution and are curious if it’s worth it to migrate over to Communities, hopefully you will find something helpful.

First, what are Salesforce Communities?

Communities combine business process with social networking. A single org can have multiple communities, accessed from one login. They can be used for Constituents, Volunteers, Customers, Partners, Vendors, and more. Visibility/access is controlled through profiles for both internal and external users…and they also can be branded.

If you have used the Power of Us Hub, you’ve used Communities, and this is a great example of how Communities can grow with their user base over time – the Hub has changed a lot since it’s launch last July. Here are some other examples of ways that your organization can use Communities:

  • Event promotion and Follow Up: Communities are a great way to get your audience excited or involved in planning for an upcoming event, as well as engaged after an event.
  • Conversational Promotion: Instead of always relying on email for announcements and promotions, you might be able to get more engagement or change the tone of your relationships for better by using Communities. Communities may be seen as a softer sell and can be a more inviting way to engage with your organization.
  • Interoffice communication: Actively engage with board members and other constituents – you can more easily keep people in the loop and on-message through Communities.
  • Membership forums: Communities are a great way to share photos or start conversations about time-sensitive topics or matters of concern.
  • Community building: connect donors across market segments through thoughtful dialog, photo sharing, document sharing, etc.
  • Ad hoc surveys: Communities make it easy to take polls or get a quick read on how constituents are feeling about something.

Sounds great, right? Well, before you dig in we have one more critical assignment for you: appoint a Community Manager. As you can see by the diverse use cases above, there are a lot of directions that you can go with a Communities deployment. The Community Manager will be responsible for setting your course and answering questions like, Who will use it? How will they use it? When will they use it? Even if you plan to adapt and iterate as you see how your audience reacts, it is critical to appoint someone who will watch over this process.

The Community Manager sets strategy, measures impact, builds engagement, and ensures that the community brings value. Here are some best practices to employ to ensure this happens:

Give Community Members what is important to THEM

Resist the urge to include everything just because you can. Really hone in on what is important to your Community and limit tabs to just that.

Brand your Community

You have options for the look and feel, from out of the box configuration to using Visual Force for a more customized look. Keep the look and feel consistent with your brand identity.

Limit Access (in a good way)

Determine membership through specific profiles for both internal and external members. Keep things targeted.

Test your Community

Before you launch, test drive your new Community with a pre-selected group of internal and external constituents/members and act on their feedback.

Remember, technology can do great things but at the end of the day it is only as good as the people involved. A successful community is highly dependent on actively engaged members and therein lies the challenge – this is a company-wide endeavor, not just IT.

For more ideas on how your organization can maximize Communities, check out the slidedeck from Idealist Consulting’s webinar on Salesforce Communities.

About Kirsten Kippen

Kirsten joined Idealist Consulting after 8 years of intercultural communications experience in both the nonprofit and private sectors. She enjoys helping organizations advance their missions through tech solutions and her specialties include training, content marketing, and event management. A lifelong Northwesterner based in Portland, Kirsten enjoys exploring the nearby mountains and local food scene in her spare time.


  1. @Susan another great resource to learn more about communities is this video from Salesforce themselves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKbHMHFTAB4

  2. Mary Pustejovsky

    I’ve also had a client use it for all of their chapters who didn’t need full Salesforce licenses.

  3. Kirsten Kippen

    Hi Susan, my best advice is to check out the Power of Us Hub (https://powerofus.force.com) which is built on Communities…they have done a lot of customization but it will give you an idea of what’s possible.

  4. Susan Kenna Wright

    I would like to experience Communities as a customer. Can you suggest any current sites?

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