Understand Raiser’s Edge vs. Salesforce for Data Migration Success - Heller Consulting

Understand Raiser’s Edge vs. Salesforce for Data Migration Success

If your nonprofit is making the move from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), an important thing to consider is terminology. The two systems are different, so your organization will need to learn some new vocabulary to ensure a successful data migration.

Terminology becomes critical during the data mapping process. This is when you and your implementation team match data fields from one database to another. It’s one of the first steps in migrating data from your Raiser’s Edge system to your new NPSP system.

Understanding terminology in Raiser’s Edge versus Salesforce

Make sure you and your implementation team are familiar with common terms in Raiser’s Edge and how they translate to Salesforce NPSP. First, be aware that the tables that contain your organization’s data are called “Tables” in Raiser’s Edge; in NPSP, they are called Objects.

Next, make sure you understand the differences in how information is referred to in Raiser’s Edge versus Salesforce NPSP. Here are some common terms in Raiser’s Edge and their corresponding names in NPSP:

  • Attributes – There is no equivalent to Attributes in NPSP. So, be prepared to make decisions around where this data should be tracked, which can range from a custom Object to fields on the Contact record.  Most critically, take this opportunity to clean up the Attributes Table, which often becomes a sprawling and unruly list of values.
  • Constituents – These are your donors, volunteers, and other constituents. In NPSP, Organizations will map to Accounts, and Individuals will map to Contacts that will be grouped under an Account as a “household”. Even if there is only one Contact, it will need to be linked to a Household Account.
  • Campaigns, Appeals, and Packages – These Tables will all map to the Campaign Object in NPSP. A critical step to success is to map these Tables into a Campaign Hierarchy and to develop naming conventions for your Campaigns.
  • Funds – General Accounting Units (GAU) are how NPSP tracks funds. To split a gift across multiple GAUs, you can map to GAU Allocations.
  • Gifts – Depending on the Gift Type, these will be Recurring Donations, Opportunities, or Payments in NPSP. All gifts, donations, and in-kind donations are tracked as Opportunity records and are differentiated by Record Type. Every Opportunity will also have a Payment record. A third level exists for sustainer gifts, which will link to the Recurring Donation object. The Recurring Donations represents status and preferences such as frequency, amount, start date, and end date.
  • Participants – In NPSP, these will map to Campaign Member. Events and peer-to-peer efforts are tracked on the Campaign object. The individuals who attend the event or participate in peer-to-peer fundraising are tracked as Campaign Members.
  • Soft Credit – Depending on the constituent type in Raiser’s Edge, these might map to Account Soft Credit, Partial Soft Credit, or Opportunity Contact Roles in NPSP. Soft credits often present challenges, in particular around the consistency of how Donor Advised Funds are tracked in Raiser’s Edge. Be prepared to discuss in detail the processes used for Soft Credits so that data gets mapped and translated correctly for NPSP.

Keep in mind that in some cases, data will flatten or expand. In other words, you might have many Tables in Raiser’s Edge that will consolidate into one Object in NPSP, and vice-versa.

More tips for moving your data from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce NPSP

In addition to learning new terms in Salesforce NPSP, there are some things you can do to prepare for a smoother data migration to your new system. Here are three tips:

1. Get ready to make decisions.

Because each type of data in your Raiser’s Edge system will not match table-to-table with NPSP, you’ll need to make some decisions about what data goes where in your new system. This will require time and the right people involved for decision making. A good example of this is around Constituent Codes. This Table has no direct equivalent in NPSP, so deciding where to map it will require understanding the use case for each Constituent Code.

For most organizations, the roles included in making data mapping decisions include Raiser’s Edge administrators, data analyst team members, and the core team that is working on the migration from Raiser’s Edge to NPSP. The time involved could be anywhere from two weeks to one month, depending on the volume and complexity of data in Raiser’s Edge.

2. Prepare your data.

Getting your data ready to move from Raiser’s Edge to NPSP will make the data mapping and migration process easier. Here are some things you can do to prepare:

    • Understand how users across your organization use your nonprofit’s data and what challenges they face in Raiser’s Edge. This will help to ensure you don’t leave behind data that is still needed, replicate data challenges in the new system, or create new challenges.
    • Review your data dropdown and picklist structures to make sure you know what your data codes mean. For example, document inconsistencies, such as if a certain piece of data was collected in field X from 2005 – 2010, but then was tracked in field Y since 2010.
    • Determine what data you can leave behind, such as data that is obsolete. This will help to reduce the amount of time and dollars spent on migrating and storing data. It’s important to know if you have a large enough data volume that will require you to purchase extra storage. Be sure include enough storage for growth, as you will add more data once you start using the new system.

3. Plan for change.

Changes in technology can be disruptive. But if you plan for the change, you can smooth the transition and ultimately improve adoption of the new system. Here are ways to plan for the change:

    • Optimize the timing. As with any move to a new technology system, there will be some downtime as data is moved from one system to another. Be sure to consider the timing of the technology implementation. For example, avoid scheduling it before or during a big event or fundraising campaign.
    • Plan for downtime. Depending on your data volume, it can take between a week and a month go from when the data is exported from Raiser’s Edge to when it is loaded and ready for launch in NPSP. That means that by the time you are working in the new system, some data will be missing. Plan for what happens once data has been exported and sent for migration. For example, either start to enter gifts offline into a spreadsheet that can be loaded separately, freeze data entry completely, or continue to use the system as is and plan for what we call a “Delta Load” in which new and updated data is pulled based on Created or Last Modified date.
    • Know that things will be different. Be sure that anyone in your organization who uses Raiser’s Edge and will be using Salesforce NPSP expects some changes in how they work. For example, reports will not be exactly the same because terminology and the underlying data structure will have changed. The day-to-day language your organization uses will likely be different. Also, some processes will likely change after the migration to the new system.
    • Include change management. Incorporating change management practices into your technology migration plan from the beginning will help you to manage and mitigate any disruptive effects of change. A strong change management plan will include clear communication about what will happen as well as effective training to ensure users across your organization understand new terminology, functionality, and processes.

Take the next step

If you’re moving from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce, the Heller Consulting team is ready to assist. We can work with you to plan and implement your new system in a way that mitigates risks and helps to ensure a successful technology migration. Contact us today to get started.

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About the Authors

Kelyan Diskin
Kelyan has more than a decade of experience focused on fundraising and operations at nonprofit and higher education organizations. In past roles, she managed organization-wide system conversions and customized solutions to align with organization strategies and goals. This experience provides... Read More
Valerie Maulbeck
Since she first joined Heller, Val has been helping mission-driven organizations advance their goals, measure impact, and encourage transparency by improving their technology infrastructure. She has helped organizations transition legacy CRM systems to Salesforce eliminating data silos and improving fundraising... Read More
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