One of the core differences between the NonProfit Success Pack (NPSP) and the new Nonprofit Cloud is a clear move away from the various account models that are available in NPSP:
The individual account model is where I first cut my teeth whilst working with non profit organisations a decade ago, it was the best solution (at the time!!) for smaller organisations where the 1-to-1 account model was deemed ‘overkill’. This model was simplistic in its approach, but had quite a few downfalls. Essentially you would create one account record, and link ALL of your contacts to that single account. This would mean that every contact and their activities, their donations or other types of income would also be linked to that same account.
Once you began hitting thousands of contact records, this quickly became problematic, especially if you wanted to do something fancy like run a process against a contact or related record. Essentially, the account record would become so bloated, timeouts would start occurring – when you make a change to one contact, it populates up to the account record, and then a simple task becomes an absolute chore. If we were to try and introduce this to a new customer today, I’m fairly sure we would be laughed out of the building.
The 1-to-1 model works by linking an account record to each contact that is created. Fairly self explanatory based on the name, but how is this different to the household model? Well, the 1-to-1 model would simply be there to facilitate the core need from the platform that all contacts must have an account record. But in this instance, the account record is essentially invisible to users and takes up unnecessary space. You would typically also create a separate household record to link multiple contacts to their household. This account model is REALLY old school and is very rarely (if ever) used in recent years.
This type of account model blends the best of the individual, and the 1-to-1 account models above into a much nicer model of working. When you create a new contact, if you don’t specify an account record, a household account is created (1-to-1) but if you have multiple contacts that reside in the same location, then you can group them together under that same household account (individual model).
For the last few years the household model has become a staple of almost every project implemented for non profits and has worked marvellously to tackle that underlying issue of every contact needing to have an associated account. Not only that, the functionality that is now available around the household model means that it’s not just a placeholder to group contacts, but actually has meaning, providing automatic soft credits for household members, a nice interface to manage the household, set addressee details rather than having each contact’s name printed, and the list goes on.
But now dawns a new (ish) era with the Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud: Person Accounts!
Wait, before you start shouting at the screen, yes, I know person accounts have been around since before even the NPSP was released, but this is Super Person Accounts (not the actual name, and technically nothing has really changed… BUT, the use case around person accounts is changing, and that’s the big news… trust me!).
What are Person Accounts? Well, they are a another blend between the individual account model and the 1-to-1 account model, for each contact created, it creates a separate, hidden account with the same name. However, with person accounts enabled it has a seamless self management capability for your users – they typically won’t be aware that an account exists behind the contact.
What is the new Nonprofit Cloud doing with Person Accounts? We are going to start leveraging this model more going forward as it allows us to treat people in the same way we currently treat organisations, be it in a B2B context, B2C or hybrid, the same processes and underlying structure of the data will remain the same – allowing us to standardise, make more dynamic automation and track engagement better across the board.
On the surface, this new model seems more complex than NPSP models, however it actually provides the baseline for a newer data model and this is called the Party Model!
At this point you might be thinking, what’s a party got to do with my data? Well, I don’t think Salesforce intended this to reflect an actual party party, but more an ability to group individuals and records into a- erm, party.
Think about the current offering that NPSP provides with Relationships and Affiliations, we can relate contacts to contacts with reciprocal values, and we can affiliate contacts to multiple accounts by role.
This Party Model replicates that functionality based on Person Accounts, but it provides a lot more flexibility by allowing our clients to dictate what a party is, and who should be in each one in order to allow a more dynamic relationship type. Rather than just contact to contact relationships, or contact to account relationships, how about we start introducing Household Relationships, Group Affiliations, External Family relationships, Professional relationships between mentors, mentees, trusts, foundations etc. all into separate little parties that you can track and engage with.
Are you a service provider? Create a party with your case managers and their case workers alongside the individuals they are supporting and their immediate family members.
Are you a grant maker? Create a party with your grant managers and the various individuals that are fund managers, or grantees directly.
Do you run an intake or admissions program? Have a party with all of your applicants based on interests and experience.
This Party Model allows us to group as little or as many things together under one banner and is no longer limited to just individual relationships or affiliations to accounts.
If that’s not enough though, there is another little element that is also being included within the core NFP Cloud now; Actionable Relationship Centre (ARC) which allows us to use this new model and make them all actionable.
This brings to life the relationships between the record you’re viewing, and the associated records and parties.
Imagine having the entire view of an individual on one page, easily seen and clearly linked amongst themselves – track the party model, related records, action plans, programmes all in one mapped interface which is interactive and represents real time data.
To summarise, Person Accounts forms a significant shift in the way that Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud handles account management. The process has become more streamlined and efficient, alleviating common issues faced by its predecessors.
Person Accounts has created more flexibility, allowing people to be treated in the same way as organisations, affording the ability to create more dynamic automations, and utilise elevated tracking.
And finally, the party model provides users with the ability to assign individuals to groups that are subjectively defined, allowing for more granular engagement strategy, and more refined reporting as a result.