Why An International Non-Profit Migrated to Wild Apricot From Salesforce

Recently we had the opportunity to work with an international not-for-profit organization on a technology solution. They had obtained a free version of Salesforce, a cloud-based CRM (customer relationship manager) product. After about a year of using Salesforce, they found themselves looking for alternatives.

Their company structure had changed, so they no longer qualified for a free non-profit license from Salesforce. Beyond that, they were finding that Salesforce wasn’t meeting their needs. It couldn’t do event management, and was not helping them automate their membership renewal process and workflow (such as keeping track of when renewals were coming up).

Salesforce required extensive customization to meet their core needs, but they didn’t have the resources to bring in an external consultant to do everything required. They simply weren’t getting enough value from Salesforce.

Time for a technology upgrade

Membership renewal was a key issue. The organization had its annual general meeting coming up for their members from around the world; in order to attend and participate, people had to be members in good standing and have completed the membership renewal process.

Through web research, they found the cloud-based membership management solution Wild Apricot. Through the Wild Apricot Partner Directory, they found NewPath Consulting and Alex Sirota.

Wild Apricot had a more reasonable cost structure and would allow this organization to automate the membership renewal process and handle event registration online.

How NewPath Consulting helped

Alex identified the best way to transition them from Salesforce to Wild Apricot, including the extraction of data from Salesforce. The important steps here were to create a master exportfile, and then test the new system to make sure the data file would import properly.

This was a unique situation in that they have many organizations as members, who then have individual members under each organization. This required them to have a hierarchy in their membership structure. In Wild Apricot this is achieved with the membership bundle feature.

While it is always tempting to try all the bells and whistles of a new software program at once, Alex convinced the organization’s marketing manager that it was best to ease into implementing Wild Apricot’s features gradually.

Focusing on the big picture view of their organization and its goals, Alex helped them determine how best their business model would work inside the Wild Apricot system.

Their first goal was to create automated processes for membership renewal, e.g., reminding organizations when their membership renewal is due. Currently, the organization’s finance manager will manually renew member organizations using the internal email campaign system in Wild Apricot to collect fees, both online and in person during the organization’s general meeting in summer 2017.

As the organization becomes comfortable with Wild Apricot, they will deploy the online renewal features on their website. But they decided to take it slow initially, and use Wild Apricot’s “back office” features without needing to deploy self-service membership capabilities yet.

Another data project was to map membership levels based on their transactional history from Salesforce. That would enable them to track outstanding renewals at every membership level.

Feb WA Dashboard Summary

Alex also helped them create a customized “Master Membership Report” to distribute to all members. This allowed members to share information with each other with the most up-to-date information.

More in store for Wild Apricot

As we continue to work with this organization to implement more of Wild Apricot’s powerful features, the next goal is to set up Wild Apricot to handle registration for their upcoming annual general meeting (AGM) and bring transactional functionality to their members across the world. For example, offering a streamlined way for global members to apply for funding to attend the AGM.

They also plan to implement the Wild Apricot membership portal to enable self-service by members. More self-serve options would free up staff to spend more time creating new programs and marketing the organization’s program and funding initiatives.

Why Wild Apricot was better than Salesforce

On the surface, Salesforce could do what this organization wanted, but in reality this would have required a lot of custom work and a pricey consulting project. Wild Apricot is clearly a better choice for a membership-based organization. It is a CRM, but a very specialized one with tools right out of the box that were just what this organization needed.

About the author

Alex is a pioneer in using the cloud to meet the needs of small and medium sized business (SMBs) and membership-based organizations. He has a BSc in computer science from the University of Michigan and has worked as a product manager at two Internet startups. Alex is a father of 2 and plays the trumpet for fun. He is the founder and the president of the University of Michigan Alumni Club of Toronto.