What is a Salesforce App?

What is a Salesforce App?

What are Salesforce Applications? They are solutions that help transform your instance of Salesforce into the perfect application for your business. In many ways it is similar to iPhone or Android applications. When you first get your smart phone, it comes pre-installed with stock applications like contacts, maps, calculator, phone and many more. It may seem basic, but it is fully functional and does most of what you need. Connect to an app store and the possibilities are endless on how you can customize your phone to do whatever you need. When you are on vacation in Chicago, you can use the the Yelp application to find the best local restaurant, click to get reviews and directions, and the standard maps application opens and uses the geolocation chip inside your phone to help you find it. Your Public Transit app tells you that it’s a long walk from the train, so you decide to hail a cab with a Taxi App, and tweet to your friend that you will be there at 8pm. Suddenly, you find you want and need to do a lot more with your phone, and you can find new apps that let you.

Now think about Salesforce. When you first log in to your instance of Salesforce, you’ll see it’s clearly got the fundamentals of contact management covered. But when you connect to the Salesforce Appexchange a whole new set of possibilities open up. There are apps to help your organization with everything from donation tracking and credit card processing, to managing volunteers. Whatever your core needs may be, there’s probably an app that gets it done quite well.

The Power of Connected Apps

How is moving to Salesforce and installing these apps better than using all of the systems you used to (or currently!) use? The big difference is that the data all of these apps are using is centrally located in Salesforce. Not only does this make running reports easier, but engagement with your constituents will improve as you will have access to their complete donor record in one place including their preferences on communication.

With all of your information in the same database, you can start to create workflows based on certain triggers. For example, after a donor gives over $500 dollars to your organization a trigger can be executed to elevate them to Gold Member status and an email can automatically be generated to send them the tax id information they will need. You can also create triggers to remind you to reach out to donors you haven’t spoken to in a few months to notify them of any upcoming fundraising opportunities or update them on your progress since you last spoke. Here’s the best part: you suddenly find you want and need to do a lot more with your data, and Salesforce Apps are there to help, without having to invest in an entirely new system or migrate your data (again).

Phones, Knives, and Databases

Did we lose you with the iPhone analogy? Think about Salesforce apps like a good old Swiss Army Knife. The core piece of the knife, the red housing, is Salesforce. The knives, bottle openers, scissors etc. are all of your apps. You could have each of these devices on their own, but the Swiss Army knife makes it easier to house and access all of the tools when you need them.
All of the Salesforce Applications can be found in the Appexchange store (similar to the iPhone App Store) complete with reviews and a rating system. Need some help figuring out which ones to implement? We reviewed five of the top Salesforce.com based donor management applications and regularly provide Salesforce tips here on TheConnectedCause.com.

What Salesforce apps have you discovered that help your organization with your mission?

Monika McMahon

About Monika McMahon

Monika joined Heller Consulting after spending 8 years in the Boulder technology startup scene. She is an expert in Social and Digital marketing, adopting and implementing new (and old) platforms for organizations ranging from ecommerce, SaaS, and nonprofits. Monika not only understands how these platforms work but how to use them to meet business objectives. When she is not educating and sharing her online talents, she can be found enjoying the music scene in Denver.


  1. kirstenkippen

    Good description! The phone analogy is tricky though – it just scratches the surface of how interconnected Salesforce apps are. Another angle – think of Salesforce like a house. You get a certain house when you sign up for Salesforce. You can put on additions (install an online donation apps for example), remodel to meet specific needs (customization) or a combination of both (install a donor management app like the Nonprofit Starter Pack).

  2. Bryan Giese

    I like this comparison. One of the powerful things about Salesforce is with all your data in the same place it lets you connect it in ways that you never considered before. You can then pick the right tools to do what you want to do.

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