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Getting Started: Configure and Customize NPSP

You've started down the journey of preparing your organization for success by reading the "Prepare for Success" article, so now it's time to think about customizing your Salesforce database to match your business processes. And, maybe even automate some common repetitive tasks! Even if you choose to work with a consultant to assist with the customization, you need to know your business processes and understand what it is you need them to build for you.

Your Getting Started Journey

Fundamentals Prepare for Success Configure and Customize Import Data Deploy and Adopt Extend and Optimize


Configure and Customize for Nonprofits: Offered live monthly

This webinar is designed to help you configure your organization's fundraising processes in Salesforce and make things easier for your users. We will focus on using the core Salesforce objects to track donations from start to finish and creating a seamless user experience through simple customizations.

Register Now for the Next Live Session

1. Stop! Do you know your own processes?

One caveat before doing any customization: make sure that you clearly understand your organization’s processes and systems before attempting to customize Salesforce to support those processes. This step is critical to ensure you add the right custom features which will be adopted by your users. Some people find it helpful to create visual process diagrams in order to clearly display the steps of a particular process, and what information is captured at each step. This may seem like overkill at first, but it can often reveal inconsistencies and misunderstandings even within a small team. Some useful tools to help you with process diagrams:

fundraising process map

Pic from "What I've Learned About Donor Management" - a good blog about creating process maps for fundraising.

There are many other tools out there to assist you with creating these types of diagrams, but the most important thing is to have a clear understanding of what steps people go through when collecting information, and exactly what, when, how, and why people are collecting it, whether the information is about donors and donations, mosquito netting, vaccines administered, and so on.

2. Basic Organization Information

One of the most simple first steps your Administrator can take to configure your Salesforce instance is to ensure that your organization’s information is updated, and the primary contact has been set correctly in your Company Profile in Setup. This helps avoid issues down the road, for example all new users you create will by default utilize the company’s timezone, language, and contact details!

User-added image

To update these settings, log into Salesforce and navigate to the Setup Menu. In the left hand menu locate the Administer section, and click on Company Profile, then Company Information.

You’ll want to make sure you’ve set up:

  • The main contact at the organization - this is typically the System Administrator, but for small organizations, this can also be the Executive Director, or even a board member, provided they will be a responsive and consistent contact.
  • The organization’s current address and phone number.
  • The default language, locale, time zone, and currency.
  • The organization’s fiscal year start month.

This is also where you can see how many additional user licenses your organization has. If you need any more, reach out to your Salesforce Account Executive!


3. Nonprofit Success Pack Configuration

User-added image


Wait a minute! Have you read up on the NPSP, explored the Power of Us HUB, or earned yourself some Trailhead badges yet? If not, it’s a good idea to start there so you understand what amazing features you have at your fingertips.

The Nonprofit Success Pack includes a number of settings that can be adjusted based on your organizational needs. To go to the NPSP Settings, click the "+" button at the end of your tabs and look for the NPSP Settings link. Click on the link to open all the settings for the NPSP.

Prior to making any changes to the default settings, be sure you understand all the ramifications of the changes you are making by referencing the NPSP Documentation.

One of the most important decisions you need to make is what Account Data model will your organization be using. What’s an Account Model? Why do I need to make a decision? Read up on the Account Model here!

4. Adding Custom Fields and Custom Objects

Every organization is unique and wants to track information specific to their programs and donors. Custom fields and custom objects are the best way to do that. If you’re familiar with Excel, then you can “translate” to Salesforce lingo using the following diagram:

Excel Trans


Data Modeling


To understand more about how this works, there is an excellent "Data Modeling" training series available via Salesforce Trailhead.


Before adding any custom fields and/or objects, always ask yourself:

  • Who will enter information in this field/object and when will it be entered (one time or multiple times)?
  • How often will this information be updated and who will be updating it?
  • Can I remove an old unused field/object, if I am adding a new one now?
  • Is anyone reporting on the custom fields that have been added? If not, then why are they there?

It’s very easy to go overboard and add lots of customizations, but it makes the interface confusing for your users and they won't enter data in your new fields.

These AppExchange applications can be helpful when assessing whether or not to keep or remove a specific field or object.

Now that you’ve customized your data structure, you may want to adjust exactly what information is displayed to everyone.

Customizing Tabs


Every organization has a unique set of business needs. The Salesforce user interface is highly flexible and customizable so you can make sure your users have quick access to information that’s important to them. You can customize which tabs your users see by default, and even create new tabs for custom objects. You can also choose which profiles see your custom tabs by default to make your users’ navigation as smooth as possible. If your users frequently need to access other pages in or outside your organization, you can add custom buttons and links directly to object and record detail pages. When your users have all the information they need on hand, they can be even more productive with Salesforce.

Custom List Views


User-added image


On every tab in Salesforce is what’s known as a “List View.” List views make it easier to see records that are important to you. You can filter your records by a specific field value and customize which fields to display in your list. For example, you can create a view that only displays Donors who gave more than $100 last year. List views are often overlooked when customizing, but can be very powerful for your users.

Page Layouts


Page Layout


When you click on an individual record (an individual donor, a specific donation, etc.) anywhere in Salesforce, you are looking at a Page Layout. Page layouts allow you to customize the design and organization of detail and edit pages in Salesforce. You can use page layouts to control which fields, related lists, and custom links users see, which standard and custom buttons appear on detail pages and related lists, and determine whether fields are visible, read only, or required on detail and edit pages. Page layouts can be customized to show or hide information as desired.


UI Customization

To learn how to customize navigation buttons and links, modify page layouts and create custom list views, check out the Trailhead Trail on UI Customization.









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