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I haven’t worked much with NPSP (Non-Profit Success Pack) during my career with Salesforce. Much of my work has tended to be B2B or B2B2C. But using NPSP for Ladies Be Architects, having set it all up, helped me to understand the basics, like the Household Account model, the fantastic Relationships and Affiliations features and the Volunteering functionality it provides.

Studying for this exam, however, helped me to visualise where I’ve been going wrong in our LBA org. Like the programmes we run and the events we participate in. Licence restrictions meant we cut corners and created custom objects for those. But thanks to this exam, I’m in a more confident position to assist future Non-Profit clients with their architecture.

So what should you study for the Certified Non-Profit Consultant exam? Take a look at the exam guide, lazybones!

Resources I Used

I used the following to help me study:

  • Trailhead (of course) – specifically, this trailmix.
  • The Nonprofit Cloud Academy’s free training courses – there were some deployment and data management gotchas that this course made me aware of
  • Experience using NPSP for Ladies Be Architects, as I said

After I completed the exam, there were some terms and acronyms I didn’t know about, so I googled them. I was thrilled to find that Maciej has written about this certification on his blog, Salesforce Memo , which I will share here. Thanks as always, Maciej, for covering the newer certifications and helping everyone.


There were some gotchas for me on these; of all my results, domain expertise scored the least points. Here are some terms I think it would be good to go in with a good understanding of:

  • LYBUNT & SYBUNT – Last Year/Some Years But Unfortunately Not This [Year]). Turns out this is a method of analysing data. More here on how these methods can support smarter fundraising.
  • TDTM – A tool built into NPSP by someone at Salesforce – this explains why I didn’t know what it was. But you will know, by the time you get into the exam. TDTM lets you disable specific pieces of code, build your own custom code that works in conjunction with NPSP and control the order in which the code executes. In a nutshell, it feels like a safe way to customise NPSP without breaking the core application.

NPSP-Specific Functions

Those of you who have worked with managed packages before, know that understanding the Salesforce platform is just one part of it. NPSP is an app written on the platform, and so you’re having to learn how someone else has designed it. You also have to know the correct use cases for each type of functionality.

Data Import

For this exam, make sure you know when it’s the right time to use each of these methods for importing data:

  • NPSP Data Importer – This is a tool built into NPSP. I admit I hadn’t figured out what this was for during the exam; I figured it out based on some of the other questions asked, so I’m sharing this here so you don’t make the same mistake I did. The Power of Us Hub has plenty on this tool and its capabilities, so I won’t give the game away here. I’m suggesting you familiarise with its capabilities and use cases though.
  • Data Loader – remember, you’re loading data for one object at a time, so you’ll have to consider which objects need to be loaded in first and understand the best times to use it
  • Data Import tool in Salesforce – See above for data loader – it’s a user-friendlier version, yet it carries the same considerations
  • Middleware – An intermediary tool that will enable regular load and transformation of data between two systems. This is sometimes widely referred to as an ETL tool, but the Data Loader is also an ETL tool. So I tend to be a bit more careful with words here (CTA prep experience is also informing my thoughts here)

Provisioning NPSP

There are a few recommended approaches for getting started with NPSP, depending on your client’s business and technical environments. As a consultant, you will have to evaluate the right one based on the client’s situation. I wish I’d found this site instead of relying solely on Trailhead.

NPSP and Person Accounts

It saddens me, but I get it – NPSP doesn’t work with Person Accounts. I discovered that after I’d finished the exam (thanks, Maciej!). A few gotchas on this one, so please make sure you understand the best strategies for getting NPSP running where Person Accounts are somehow under discussion or in play.

Image result for person account salesforce
image credit: Commerceworks UK

Also, make yourself familiar with Person Accounts in general; their pros, cons and the superstitions out there. Not least because I can’t count, on one hand, the number of consultants who have avoided Person Accounts in their solutions for silly reasons that were exposed as mythology years ago. Salesforce has a whole team that works on Person Accounts, and the investment is definitely there.


Application Lifecycle Management

Image result for alm salesforce

As a consultant, you’ll be working actively with sandboxes and (hopefully) following best practice approaches for application lifecycle management. You’ll need this experience for the exam. Experienced consultants and architects have many approaches in mind but they follow a common sensibility.

If it helps, you can cross-reference my tips for the Dev Lifecycle architect exam. There should be enough in there to get you the info you need, as well as the Governance Basics Trailhead badge. Governance is fundamental and cross-cloud, so once you know it, you can apply the same approach to other cloud implementations.

Note that NPSP is not on the same release cycle as the main Salesforce platform. You’ll need to understand the impact of this on your project planning, as you implement NPSP for your clients in real life.

Power of Us Hub

You should start this exam knowing what you can get from the Power of Us Hub in terms of resource and sharing ideas, thoughts and expertise.

Data Architecture

Image result for household account model salesforce

It goes without saying – HEDA, Financial Services Cloud and NPSP uses a Household model for Accounts, and in this case, I like how it works. You can affiliate people with organisations, and create reciprocal relationships between contacts. Loving it.

In addition, make sure you’re familiar with what fields come out of the box with NPSP, and when you’ll need to create them. This is really testing your levels of experience with the package.

Marketing Cloud & Pardot Use Cases

This was a sneaky one; I closed the laptop and thought whoa thank God I knew when to use Marketing Cloud and when to use Pardot! If you’re a whizzy marketeer, though, you’ll be just fine.

This helps, on reflection.

Customisable Rollups

Those of you who are familiar with DLRS, the concepts are the same. You define a source object, a target object, a type and what needs to be rolled up.

If you’re not familiar with DLRS, then customisable rollups are a way to roll data up parent/child style between objects that are related via Lookup. Coz sometimes you have to – like when you want to see the impact of opportunities against a Campaign. The detail you need is in the Power of Us Hub, but as a consultant, know the right situation to use these for.

When NOT to use NPSP

NPSP isn’t the answer for all non-profits. When evaluating a solution, you have to weigh up the functionality with the business need / model. For some clients, your decisions here could mean the difference between paying £100k in services as you build them a bespoke solution that costs them money to enhance, or paying £100k in licences and receiving regular upgrades AND a chance to influence the product roadmap.

Think about the fundraising model, growth plans and objectives before deciding whether the solution is NPSP or just normal Salesforce.

Data Hygiene

Management of duplicates is key here, especially because there have been a few changes to the best practices recently for managing dupes in NPSP.

If you get a chance to set up Duplicate Rules in your org, like I had to for Ladies Be Architects, it’ll put you in a good spot for the exam.

Image result for dupes everywhere

We had dupes everywhere.

NPSP Field Mappings

There are certain objects you can map fields down to – like Recurring Donations and payments. Can you think of any scenarios where you’d need to do this? Luckily, unlike in conventional Salesforce, where you’d use process builder, formulae or flow, you can use this handy mapping tool for mapping custom fields! And it’s all included in NPSP. Knowing about this tool helps you avoid boiling the ocean and spending more time than you need, when faced with a simple customer requirement.

Recurring Donation Best Practices

Administration and settings are a large portion of the exam, so you’ll need to be really familiar with them. With recurring donations, however, there are some additional, business-y considerations, which you can find here.

Hard and Soft Credits

I found it useful to remember that Hard Credits are when money has been donated directly by that individual or company. Soft credits are given to people who have influenced that donation in some way and you want them to be recognised for it.

I passed…on a Saturday night

12 years’ experience working with the platform definitely gave me a lift up for this exam and I was happy and proud to have passed, even if all my mates were out having fun because it was Saturday!

I wish you all the very best of luck for the NonProfit Consultant exam!

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