NPSP Sprint in the Greatest City in America

This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) Sprint in Baltimore, MD (“the greatest city in America,” according to the benches). The NPSP Sprint is not a typical conference; it’s a chance for NPSP end-users, consultants, developers, and fans from around the country to gather, discuss what’s working with the package, and brainstorm how to improve and enhance the existing NPSP features. For someone like me - a social worker who fell into the Salesforce world - the NPSP Sprint was particularly inspiring because I was able to connect with a room full of people who were passionate about using Salesforce technology to help nonprofits meet their missions.

In small groups, we tackled specific, high-priority issues facing NPSP users. I chose to work with a group tasked with making Trailhead more accessible and relevant to a broad array of nonprofit users (e.g., small community-based organizations to church groups to national organizations with local chapters). I’ve always felt that Trailhead is an awesome asset, but that the existing units seemed most appropriate for large organizations, and it would be hard for smaller nonprofits to relate the trainings to their unique needs. My group’s goal was to create new basic and adaptable units to bridge that gap. We created four units focused on defining the basics of Salesforce and NPSP and providing diverse use cases.

I’m relatively new to the Salesforce community, so I didn’t know what to expect at the conference. I hoped to make some new friends with experience working in the tech-meets-social-services space. I hoped to have a “professional-development experience” and learn new technical skills and knowledge. I was surprised to find that the NPSP Sprint also provided inspiration and development outside of explicit technical knowledge. One story stands out: My Trailhead group was debating the advantages and disadvantages of including click-path directions in one Trailhead unit (e.g., “Contacts represent individual people in Salesforce. To create one, click Contacts, then click…”) versus a higher-level overview. A young woman who had joined our group for the debate and had been quietly listening casually commented that learning happens when people believe, then understand, then do. She recommended that we focus our Trailhead on facilitating the belief that Salesforce and NPSP can meet the needs of nonprofit organizations and an understanding of key Salesforce terms (i.e., platform, app, object)... and let those pieces sink in before we bog people down with learning to do. Our group thought that this was brilliant, and we used it as our guiding principle for the Trailhead. I’m excited to see the final product, and to apply this philosophy to how I conduct trainings. I look forward to sharing the new units with nonprofit clients at WIN… I hope they help you believe and understand, and we’re here to help you do!

Photo credit: