Winter 21 Salesforce.Org Release

December 10, 2020 Mark Adcock



Winter ‘21 is here with a host of exciting new innovations. But this time it’s not just the regular Salesforce platform that has a winter release., which has been delivering continuous innovation for the Nonprofit Cloud and Education Cloud; is now coming through with their Winter ‘21 product release.

This is a major shift for because major feature releases are no longer tossed in with the regular bi-weekly updates, but are instead delivered 3x a year, just like the regular Salesforce releases, but a month behind to help organizations manage change. With this shift, it’s easier for customers who have put their Salesforce platform and CRM as a central system in their organization to manage change, test solutions, and promote internal adoption.

This winter release for products is packed full of new features, capabilities, and products to drive institutional success to new levels. We're excited about these innovations, and feel like they're the backbone of this release.

Innovations for Nonprofits 

Getting Started Experience

The Nonprofit Success Pack(NPSP) is a scalable, powerful nonprofit management solution and brings a host of core features that can really power organization-wide transformation. It hasn’t always been the easiest thing to set up: new admins often missed out on features and settings that could really help. But the new Getting Started Experience empowers new admins to get up and running faster, saving one of the most valuable resources a nonprofit has: time.

Engage Donors with Elevate fundraising giving pages

Donor giving pages are more than just a credit card terminal - they’re a place for your nonprofit to tell its unique story, and most importantly invite donors to become a part of that story by giving. While there are many options out there for this, Elevate is trying to bring the giving page to a new experience level.

  • Give to different programs and services from a single page -  Donors often have several motivations and want to see their donations applied to match their interests. In the past, this frequently meant setting up different landing pages or requiring the use of clunky mechanisms or multiple gifts. Elevate takes the hassle out of this and makes it easy for a donor to select the programs they wish to fund and how they want it allocated. 
  • Elevate brings seamless integration into the NPSP data model. Donations made online are mapped on the back end to the correct objects and field and records. This means no more clunky process builders or extra manual data entry for many organizations.
  • Elevate payment services have added iATS to the Stripe offering with more payment processing services on the way, allowing nonprofit organizations to find the best payment processing terms for their fundraising needs.
  • Donor Cover - In the nonprofit sector, every cent counts. Transaction and platform fees can eat into donations and the impact that they can provide. Elevate now supports Donor Cover to give donors who want to improve the impact of their donations a way to cover those fees and for nonprofits to track the donor’s coverage as separate from the donation.


Financial Mapping with Accounting Subledger


Many nonprofits go through the laborious process of reconciling financial data between the development group and accounting. It doesn’t need to be this way. Accounting Subledger brings new capabilities to make this easier. It now supports a standard NPSP data model for payments or a “No Payment” data model, which makes a more flexible ledger model. Align your financial data in Salesforce with your accounting system of choice with greater ease than ever before.


Data Quality with Insights Platform Data Integrity


Donors are the lifeblood of most nonprofits. Without good donor relationships there’s no way to carry out their missions. Keeping that data that supports donor relationships up to date is an ongoing struggle and traditionally has required a lot of person-hours - time that could have been spent advancing the nonprofit mission in other ways.  The new Insights Platform Data Integrity Tool helps clean data, keep addresses up to date, deduplicate contacts, and standardize data. Spending time on donor engagement instead of data entry can help you keep your nonprofit driving impact at greater levels.


Nonprofit Fundraising Dashboards with Tableau


Data tells stories and drives decisions, but unlocking the value of that data can be tricky.  Leveraging the power of Tableau can allow your nonprofit to unlock hidden value and explore your nonprofit’s data in entirely new ways.  With a few clicks to get started, you have a range of customizable dashboards to explore and further to unlock even more potential for your nonprofit to see the story your data tells.


Marketing and Engagement


Every nonprofit wants to engage their constituencies more effectively. This is often a challenging prospect, especially when your donors, volunteers, and program recipients are inundated with ever-higher volumes of messages to sift through. Keeping your message relevant, timely, and appealing is vital, and Winter ‘21 brings new ways to help nonprofits manage donor engagement more easily.

  • Customer 360 Audiences help marketers and fundraisers connect different data in a user-friendly customer data platform. Instead of waiting on IT to write database scripts,  marketers and fundraisers can build audiences using data for personalization and segmentation that helps increase the value of every engagement with your constituents.
  • Einstein Send Time Optimization in Marketing Cloud takes the guesswork out of finding the right time to send messages. Catching the attention of your constituents isn’t easy and timing can play a critical factor. Finding the optimal window for capturing attention doesn’t have to be hit or miss or based on averages. Find the best time for each constituent with the power of Einstein machine learning.
  • Einstein Engagement Frequency helps you find the right frequency for sending messages. This is a difficult balance for many marketers who want to send everything, but also realize that constituents don’t engage when they’re overloaded with content and experience email fatigue.

Save time with Program Management

At one point, Nonprofit Cloud was just for fundraisers, but the addition of new modules has shifted the focus from a development hub to one for organization, and includes managing nonprofit programs. The Program Management Module helps nonprofits maximize the impact of their programs and brings some key new improvements with Winter ‘21.

  • Recurring Services Tracking allows organizations to set up multiple offerings of the same services with ease. Does your organization offer a session every Wednesday evening? Do you have a special event that happens every month?  Do you follow up with a program recipient every two weeks? Take the manual data entry out of the process and make it recurring so these are automatically added. 
  • Engagement Tracking is improved to give a full picture of your constituents across their individual and recurring service participation.
  • Nonprofit Cloud Case Management helps organizations deliver personal service to every constituent, and now is even better with streamlined intake and referral management. Getting a new constituent into one of your programs is quicker and easier than ever before. You can easily set up a constituent  and track key details such as how your program participants were referred to you.
  • Nonprofit Cloud Case Management is now available for HIPAA compliance requirements. Many organizations deal with the operational overhead of compliance regulations such as HIPAA to deliver their programs and services helping people.  Secure tools that you can trust to be compliant with regulations are key to making your programs a success.

Innovations for Education

Student Success with Advisor Link 

Salesforce Advisor Link helps academic institutions take student success to new levels by consolidating tools that were once needed to advise students across the different pieces of their academic pathways, bringing them together to form a holistic view of the student. Winter '21 adds two new key enhancements to this product

  • Higher Education Express Setup - While Advisor Link offered a lot of power, it could also be tricky to set up initially, configuring settings, adding data and metadata to drive the application. The new Express Setup streamlines much of the work to help institutions get their advising programs online and drive student success.
  • Advisor Flex Scheduling - In normal years, advisors can have challenging schedules. Fitting student meetings into busy academic calendars can be especially difficult at times. COVID-19 made this process even more complex, adding the need for different schedules and times as well as meeting in person vs. virtual. The new Advisor Flex Scheduling makes it easier for advisors to manage availability to help students.

Drive Admissions Engagement with Admissions Connect

Academic admissions might look like a simple form from the outside, but in truth it's a complex process involving many levels of engagement to select the right students and align them with academic paths that will give them the opportunity to succeed. Many admissions and recruitment solutions focus only on portions of the experience, leaving disjointed information and difficult processes to follow.

Admissions Connect streamlines this process, bringing together:

  • Key student data for easy viewing/review
  • Admissions progress management
  • Application review
  • Detailed tracking and tailored features for every stage of the admissions process

Focus on the whole student with the K-12 Student Success Hub

K-12 Education sets the stage for a student's success for the rest of their lifetime. Teachers, counselors, and administrators are all focused on the same student outcomes, but are often working in disparate systems and at different factors for student success.  This leaves gaps in visibility, creates risk for increased failure and produces coordination nightmares. These systems traditionally have large gaps that allow some students to fall through the cracks.

The K-12 Student Success Hub ilessens those gaps, bringing together many facets and viewpoints on student success, all focused around the student. View, manage, and collaborate on student success across a range of factors like:

  • Family and other people they are connected to
  • Life events
  • Attendance
  • Academic programs
  • Behavioral incidents
  • Communications between the school faculty and staff and the student and student’s family or guardians
  • Student Success Plans

Bringing these key pieces of information and more gives a fully grounded picture of each student, their academic progress, path to success, and the challenges they’re facing, all information that helps educators make informed decisions and offer guidance for student success.

About the Author

Mark Adcock

Mark, a senior consultant at Appirio, has a background in Information Technology with over a decade of experience in Higher Education and Nonprofit technology. He is passionate about helping nonprofits and education organizations maximize their impact by accelerating their digital transformation, improving their business processes, and integrating their systems with Salesforce. Joining the Salesforce Lightning Champions program in 2019, Mark, a Salesforce MVP and Lightning Champion, takes pride in sharing his experience and knowledge of Salesforce Lightning with the broader community.

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