My Nonprofit Uses Leads – & So Should Yours!

How do I love leads, let me count the ways.crm-funny1

Before starting at Year Up, I did not understand the depth of what I would learn jumping into a Salesforce org with so very much DATA as this one. Year Up is a successful (and growing) nonprofit organization with 15 sites across the country, attracting the attention of prospective students and prospective employers our interns and graduates. And up until recently, our usage of the Leads object had been minimal.

Why am I highlighting this? Because the places where we have implemented Leads our process has improved and our data has been cleaner. And the places we haven’t? Well, I’ll get to that!

Leads should be the destination for all of the unqualified data about new or prospective constituents (both from users and from your webforms). And you don’t need to be a money-making corporation or a large organization to find Leads useful. I want to talk about two main reasons for this:

  1. Putting a system in place for managing your pipeline of NEW people ensures proper follow through and follow up: Think about it, getting people in the door of your organization is the result of your organization’s success and the hard work of your marketing or communications person or team. Someone believes in your mission and wants to be a part of it! A lot went into someone finding that form and filling it out. The last thing you want is for that person to fill out the form and then get lost in the shuffle of your Contacts, or get a follow up a week or a month after they’ve filled out the form. Leads has some great built-in functionality for managing these records. Set a default owner, set a notification to that person when the lead arrives and then a reminder to follow up. Set up a queue so that if the default owner is on vacation, someone else will be there to catch those new leads.
  2. Avoiding clutter and confusion in your Contacts or other objects keeps your qualified and unqualified data clean, manageable, and separate from one another: Your prospects should be handled differently than people already in your system, right? You don’t want them receiving your organization’s mass emails, you don’t want them confused with an existing donor, and you don’t want your staff running a Contacts report full of people whose sole reason for being there is that they filled out a webform (but have yet to have a real interaction with someone on staff).

Currently, one of the ways we are using Leads is for our prospective employers of our interns and our graduates. The lead form asks for minimal information – all we want is the type of interest, and their contact information. We’ll fill in the details when we do our follow up and have a conversation over the phone.

partner leads

On our roadmap is Leads for our prospective students. Currently, all prospective students automatically become Contacts when they fill out an interest form. That means – you guessed it – that we have a whole lot of prospective student data cluttering global search results, reports, and dashboards. Prospective students all remain in the system for all time. And like other competitive youth programs and educational institutions, many prospects do not move forward in the application process or are not accepted. Going forward, we’ll have prospective students created as Leads instead, putting them into a queue to be responded to by a queue member from Admissions who connects with them by phone and makes sure they follow our standard application process. Once they are enrolled in the program, they will be converted to a Contact.

Keep in mind:

  • Standard lead conversion creates both a new Account and a new Opportunity, which is not always useful for nonprofits. If you are using the Nonprofit Starter Pack, read up on the NPSP’s Lead Conversion Utility.
  • Are you using Salesforce’s new-ish Duplicate Prevention Tool? (If not, you should be!). You can avoid creating duplicate Contacts from lead conversion if you include cross-object matching in duplicate rules.
  • Web-to-lead forms are your friend. They can be embedded right on your website, and you don’t have to do any custom field mapping, so they are great for a super basic form. You can also use FormAssembly for your more complex forms, which handles duplicates and multiple object touches a bit better.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the Trailhead modules on Leads (here and here), do a little Sandbox testing, and get to it!

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