James Gilray
Mar 26, 2020
How to Import Data to Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP)
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Importing data into Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack is complicated, time-consuming and sure to frustrate. So much so that Salesforce acknowledges this with the aptly titled Why is it so complicated? section located at the beginning of their Data Import Documentation.

This article will outline core steps to import data into Salesforce using the NPSP Data Import Tool, and provide recommendation as to a different way to achieve a better end state without the human resources burden and lengthy delays between data imports which are endemic to the NPSP Data Import Tool.

Overview of using the NPSP Data Import Tool

To fully understand how the NPSP Data Import Tool works and to obtain a step-by-step guide as to how to use it, visit https://powerofus.force.com/s/article/NPSP-How-the-Import-Process-Works.

Core steps to import data into Salesforce NPSP are as follows:

  1. Export, clean and format your existing data (view steps involved)
  2. Transfer existing data into the NPSP Data Import Template (view steps involved and download Data Import Template)
  3. Upload your NPSP Data Import Template into the NPSP Data Import Object (view steps involved)
  4. Verify the uploaded data in Salesforce using a Dry Run (view steps involved)
  5. Process your import (view steps involved)

In addition to understanding the core steps, we also recommend reading the following article which outlines best practice processes around NPSP data import: https://www.salesforce.org/how-to-import-data-into-npsp-more-effectively/. Written by Salesforce and based on thousands of technical support cases, it recommends breaking your import into smaller files so the reduced number of columns make your spreadsheet readable and thus it becomes easier to see and fix bad data before it is imported into Salesforce.

Limitations of using the NPSP Data Import Tool

If your organisation masters using the NPSP Data Import Tool you will be ahead of most, but will still face the following key issues.

First, there is a human resourcing (and upskilling) cost associated with cleaning and formatting your data before using the NPSP Data Import Tool. Processing time can be reduced by creating Excel Macros to transform data into required structures and alert where mandatory information is not present – but these are complicated, technical files which not only need to be built but also maintained when the source data or your Salesforce instance changes. This is further complicated if data needs to be imported from different third party systems which format source data uniquely, and is complicated again if you have large volumes of data to import.

And outside of the time required to do this and opportunity cost of what you might otherwise be doing, there is the ever-present issue of human error. If you are importing thousands, hundreds or even tens of records – you are probably going to get errors in your data and these are difficult to identify and undo once imported into Salesforce.

Second, there is a time delay associated with manually importing data. If you are importing weekly then there is up to seven days of delay before that data can be actioned. If you are importing monthly then data will be out by up to thirty-one days. This means your organisation will not be able to run marketing automation effectively, and that the email or SMS which eventually gets sent to a fundraiser loses context. That sales call to your major donor is made a couple of weeks after the donation happens. Your reporting dashboards are weeks out of date and your organisation won’t be able to identify important issues or opportunities as they arise. To gain these capabilities, you need to automatically be importing data into Salesforce in real time.

Use MoveData to automate real time data into Salesforce NPSP

Yes we are plugging our own product but the answer is MoveData. We have already written real time API integrations with a wide range of industry platforms and all of these can be turned on for your Salesforce instance. Using MoveData, the moment an event occurs it is imported into your Salesforce instance and correctly maps against your existing Salesforce structures. You save time while reducing opportunity cost, and gain new capabilities to run real time sales, marketing, business intelligence and other important initiatives.

MoveData works out of the box with Salesforce NPSP and is priced competitively starting from just $249 per month for a single API integration or $399 for unlimited API integrations. If you are interested in using MoveData or learning more then contact us so we can have a friendly chat and arrange a demonstration.