What Nonprofits Need to Know About Data Cloud

There has been a lot of buzz around Salesforce’s latest announcements powered by Data Cloud, such as Marketing Cloud Growth, Einstein Copilots, and generative AI.  These products and tools show immense promise, providing more timely and accurate content in less time.  

It can be overwhelming when there’s so much hype about something so new. It’s easy to say, “It’s probably too expensive for my organization,” or “We’ll never need to use that.” After spending two days at Connections attending sessions and talking to people across the Salesforce ecosystem, I can say that Data Cloud is something that all organizations should consider now or soon.

The Credit Consumption Model Makes Accessible to Organizations of Any Size

Data Cloud uses a "credit consumption" model for billing, which means your cost is directly related to how much data you ingest and how you use the platform.  If you start with a small number of focused use cases and only the Data Cloud features you need to support them, there can be a pretty low cost for getting started.

At the same time, ingesting all of your data from every data source, running Identity Resolution more often than needed, and creating a bunch of unnecessary (but probably interesting) Calculated Insights can lead to a surprise message from your Account Executive about buying more credits.

To minimize your expenses and maximize the value of Data Cloud, it's crucial to invest time in developing a Data Strategy. This strategic approach involves:

  1. Create a catalog of your systems and the data that resides in each one.
  2. Document your organization’s use cases.  Decide the level of value each use case provides to your organization.  Identify which systems and data are needed to support each use case.
  3. Prioritize your initial use cases by comparing their value and complexity. Complexity is higher if a use case requires more data sources or if the data resides in a system that doesn’t easily integrate with Data Cloud.

Since Salesforce doesn’t publish a credit calculator, it’s essential to work with an experienced implementation partner who can help you create a Data Strategy that maximizes your value while minimizing the number of credits you use.

It's for More than Just Marketing

When people think of Data Cloud, marketing is one of the first use cases people think about.  However, Imagine you work for a nonprofit that provides various social services to the community.  You use Nonprofit Cloud for program management and fundraising, Volgistics for volunteer management, and Shopify as an e-commerce solution for your gift shop.  There’s a good chance that people engage with you in multiple ways (i.e., a volunteer, a donor, and a gift shop customer).

Data Cloud allows you to bring in data from each of those systems and define the business rules that link profiles from multiple systems together.  That means you’d know that Jon Doe the donor is also Jonathan Doe the volunteer.  Once you know they’re the same person, you can see the complete picture and understand their engagement with your organization across all your systems.

Data Cloud Marketing

Data Cloud gives you the ability to gain insights such as:

  • Who are my largest donors?
  • Who are my most active volunteers?
  • Who donates but does not volunteer?
  • Who volunteers but does not donate?
  • What types of causes does each donor favor?
  • What types of events does each person like to volunteer for?
  • Identifying people who were service recipients but are now donors/volunteers.

These insights can certainly be used for marketing. However, that’s just the beginning. By creating insights from data in multiple systems, you can:

  • See the complete picture of someone in Nonprofit Cloud using Data Cloud Related Lists to display data from across your organization on the Contact record.
  • Update fields on the Contact record with essential data points, such as fundraising tier, volunteer level, or fundraising cause affinity.
  • Trigger automation activities based on insights gathered from across your organization

Data Cloud opens up a world of possibilities, allowing you to understand your constituents, donors, and volunteers in ways you've never imagined before.

Getting Started With Data Cloud

Getting started with Data Cloud is straightforward, but creating an expensive solution that does not provide the expected value is just as easy.  However, you can mitigate this risk by approaching your implementation with a plan.

  1. Create a Data Strategy
    1. Understand your systems and data
    2. Identify and prioritize your organization’s use cases
  2. Implement & Measure
    1. Configure Data Cloud
    2. Integrate only the data sources necessary to support the prioritized use cases.
    3. Measure the results.
  3. Iterate and Expand
    1. Make changes to the existing implementation
    2. Expand your implementation to include the subsequent use cases

Prolocity has helped many clients create and execute successful implementation plans.  We would love to help you create a Data Strategy or partner with you to plan and manage your Data Cloud implementation.  Get started and contact us today!

About The Author: Ryan Hernalsteen
Salesforce Consultant

With a wealth of experience in the Salesforce ecosystem, Ryan seamlessly transitioned from a client to a consultant over the years. Specializing in Marketing Cloud and Data Cloud, he continues to sharpen his focus on these domains at Prolocity. Beyond his technical prowess, Ryan's passion lies in empowering individuals to navigate and solve complex problems.

Data Cloud & Strategy Questions? We’re here to help.


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