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Best Practices

Free Salesforce Data Tools for Nonprofit Admins

An overview of free tools available for nonprofits to manage Salesforce data.

Data management including importing, exporting and deduping is necessary to keep your data useful and relevant to your users. And there are several free tools available for nonprofits to work with Salesforce data. If you are new to these options, this will be a useful overview for you to familiarize yourself with the landscape.

Important note: As these tools will allow you to mass delete, insert, or update records, we always recommend the following:

  • Always have a backup of the data before proceeding.
  • Keep a copy of the change file so you can go back to it if necessary.
  • Keep a copy of the success and failure files.  Success files include the unique ID of all records so can easily be used to reverse and data manipulations.

I recommend combining these tools to find your best fit. Sometimes what distinguishes tools from one another is purely user interface and/or what you find easier to use.

The free tools we’ll cover here are:
1) Salesforce Data Export (Backups)
2) Salesforce Data Loader
3) Salesforce Data Management Wizard
4) Dataloader.io
5) Apsona
6) NPSP Data Importer
7) CRM Fusion DemandTools
8) Jitterbit Cloud Dataloader (free version)
9) Eclipse (IDE)
10) Developer Console
11) Workbench

Quick Overview: Salesforce provides its own way to export all of your data to CSV files. Very good for this one function. We recommend you set this up to get a weekly or monthly full data export.

Features: Schedule and export data for backups only. You can choose to include images, documents, and attachments (which will increase the file size significantly).  If you elect to include them and you schedule an export, you will receive an email with a download link to a separate zipped file that includes a CSV file for each object, in addition to your other zipped data.

System Compatibility: Web-based.

Setup: Follow these steps in Salesforce: Setup > Data Management > Data Export > Schedule Export. Salesforce Data Export (Backups) article from Salesforce Help & Training. Note: New objects created after the backup is configured are not included by default. So if you create a custom objects be sure to revisit and reconfigure your back-up.

Salesforce Data Export

Quick Overview: Salesforce provides a simple Windows-based application for basic data management tasks.  In my opinion, it is designed for smaller exports/imports. You can run an export of a particular set of data, a single table, make a single change to contacts, or back them up. Its main use is importing or updating data. It has a basic user interface. It’s simple, hard to do wrong, and gets the job done.

Features: There are six main features:
1) Insert – creates new records;
2) Update – update fields on existing records (match with the Salesforce record ID);
3) Upsert – update existing records or insert new records;
4) Delete – deletes records (you only need the Salesforce record IDs);
5) Export – export a table or set of records via a SOQL query tool;
6) Export All – manually export all of your objects.

System Compatibility: Windows-only. There is an unsupported version for Mac users from an external developer called LexiLoader. You can download it at http://www.pocketsoap.com/osx/lexiloader/.

Setup: You can download the Salesforce Data Loader from Setup > Data Management > Data Loader > Download. Download and install the file to your local computer.  To login and begin using the tool you will need your login ID, password, and security token.  If you did not store your security token, you can get a new one emailed to you via My Settings > Personal > Reset My Security Token. When it asks for your password, you will enter your password + security tokem. Learn more from the Salesforce Data Loader docs on developer.salesforce.com.


Note: All external integration applications will require the security token for validation.

Salesforce Data Loader screenshot

Quick Overview: Does imports and updates directly within Salesforce. I list it here as an option because you may hear about it, but I recommend other tools, such as the Data Loader above, for optimal performance. The wizards will not allow you to save settings or return to previous screens to change options, and sometimes have field glitches as well. 

Features: See features of Data Loader above.

System Compatibility: Web-based.

Setup: Within Salesforce, go to Setup > Data Management > Data Import Wizard. Salesforce Data Management Wizard article from Help & Training.

Salesforce Data Wizards screenshot

Quick Overview: This is one of the main data loader options for the Mac OS besides Jitterbit, and its functionality is similar to that of the the Salesforce Data Loader for Windows.

Features: It offers the ability to insert, update, upsert and delete data. 

System Compatibility: Web-based.

Setup: Go to dataloader.io and log in with your Salesforce account.

Dataloader.io screenshot

Quick Overview: Installed app. Key benefits of Apsona include filtering capabilities, bulk updates, importing, and reporting capability. 

Features: Apsona includes several functionality sets, including:
1) A menu bar allows you to select objects and see a configured view of the selected objects.
2) The console view gives you a list on the left, and detail and related lists on the right. You can edit from this view.
3) The tabular view has an Excel-like look. You can filter however you want, there is no record type limitation. Cross-object filters based on related child records are possible as well, including exception filters.  
4) Bulk updates let you change up to five fields at once on all records in the filter (even if separated by pagination). Using this functionality, you can mass delete from the tabular view.  
5) With the export functionality, you can select records from tabular view, select any fields from object (column doesn’t have to be in view), and export to csv.

System Compatibility: Web-based (once installed into Salesforce).

Setup: Apsona grants 3 free licenses to nonprofits. To take advantage of this generous offer, go to the Apsona website.

Apsona screenshot

Quick Overview: New data import tool specifically for the Nonprofit Starter Pack. The greatest benefit it offers is turning data from a single row of an import into multiple related records (contact, account, donation). This can be vital in an initial implementation or data migration.

Features: As mentioned above, you can turn data in a single spreadsheet row into multiple connected records. You can add custom fields to the import that get written to any of the associated objects/records created. Existing records are matched, and data can be added to the existing record. A holding record is created for specific records that fail, making it quicker to fix those records.

System Compatibility: Web-based.

Setup: Native to NPSP 3.0. Use the NPSP templates to load all data directly into the object called NPSP Data Import. Then run the NPSP Data Importer. See the NPSP Importer documentation for more information.

NPSP Data Importer screenshot

Quick Overview: Excellent, powerful tool that can help de-duplicate your records and make edits directly to data, among other things. However, it also presents a much more complicated UI. DemandTools is an installable application for Windows systems only. 

Features: There are multiple modules in DemandTools. Single Table Deduplicator and Mass Effect are just a few of the most useful for data management. Mass Effect allows you to cleanse your data with formulas, post changes without exported data, and other flexible functionality.

DemandTools screenshot

Duplicate detection and merging is offered by Single Table Deduplicator. DemandTools also offers a suite of other tools besides these two that can help you manage your records. The DemandTools de-duplication functions can be very helpful, but it will take some time to learn. As noted below, their product is not supported, including this deduplicator module. Some documentation can be found around the web.

Single Table Dedupe screenshot

System Compatibility: Windows only.

Setup: CRMFusion will grant a free license to nonprofits, but there is no support for their product. Request the product via their website.

Quick Overview: Jitterbit is newer and fancier than the Data Loader, with the same functions plus additional functionality. It has a smoother but more complex user interface, and it offers multiple logins, which can be useful for nonprofits with multiple partners. Our consultants prefer it, but if you don’t need the bells and whistles, Data Loader will also work for you.

Features:
1) Insert – creates new records;
2) Update – update fields on existing records (match with the Salesforce record ID);
3) Upsert – update existing records or insert new records;
4) Delete – deletes records (you only need the Salesforce record IDs);
5) Export – export a table or set of records via a SOQL query tool;
6) Export All – manually export all of your objects. It can also remember your credentials (such as your sandboxes) and save scripts for doing the same types of functions all the time.

System Compatibility: Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Setup: Jitterbit provides a free version of their data loader (another installation application) which is downloadable here. It is only supported through their online community on Get Satisfaction.

Jitterbit Data Loader screenshot

Quick Overview: This is a powerful tool which gives you “full” access to Salesforce metadata, intended for developers/coders. The Eclipse development environment has a Salesforce plug-in. A sophisticated nonprofit might find it useful. 

Features: There are additional tools such as the schema view and a query tool. For use only if you are comfortable in a code development environment. 

System Compatibility: Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Setup: It is free and can be downloaded and configured from here (follow the instructions on this page).

Eclipse screenshot

Quick Overview: You probably wouldn’t use this unless you have developers. Again I mention it because you may hear about it. It gives you access to Salesforce back-end. I recommend Eclipse or Workbench if you need these functions.

Features: The developer console is mostly meant for testing and debugging code, but you can run SOQL queries and view and edit results.

System Compatibility: Web-based.

Setup: To use, you must have the Admin permission. Go to: Setup > Develop > Tools > Developer Console > Query Editor.

Salesforce Developer Console screenshot

Quick Overview: A UI tool for developers. It features exporting and inserting.

Features: Workbench is similar to the console, but also includes all of the data functions from the Data Loader (Insert, Update, Upsert, Delete), and the query tools of the console.

System Compatibility: Web-based

Setup: Go to workbench.developerforce.com and log in with Salesforce credentials.

Workbench screenshot