Salesforce and Microsoft go head-to-head, and nonprofit organizations are reaping the benefits.
The Salesforce vs. Microsoft competition continues to be a good thing for nonprofit organizations. While this month’s big news regarding their competition was Salesforce’s $27.7B acquisition of Slack, there was a less dazzling, but perhaps equally interesting news item specific to nonprofits — Microsoft’s announcement of Fundraising and Engagement for Dynamics 365 Sales.
Both Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics have anchored their strategies in empowering the nonprofit sector (now more commonly referred to as the social impact sector) with free and discounted enterprise-scale platforms. For example:
- Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact initiatives offer free and discounted software, including Dynamics 365 (D365), and underpin business application solutions with their game-changing Common Data Model.
- Salesforce offers nonprofits free licenses for their Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), a pre-configured set of functions similar to Microsoft’s Nonprofit Accelerator.
- Both organizations are deeply committed to impact investing and world sustainability through the Salesforce Ventures Impact Fund and the Microsoft and Minority Owned SBS LLC Co’s Clear Vision Impact Fund. Both funds support the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals “SDGs.”
Let’s take a deeper look at how each company is working to help nonprofits.
Salesforce Improvements for Nonprofits: Building on Salesforce Marketing Cloud
Salesforce was a primary entrant into the nonprofit space over ten years ago and has made great strides in supporting nonprofits, specifically around constituent management, donor management and program management. In their ecosystem, other tools are available that augment a Salesforce solution like those that support volunteer management, online giving, event management and eCommerce.
Due to Salesforce’s versatility, you can customize any solution, and it can support nonprofit organizations of all sizes and across every social impact sector. You can even customize Salesforce solutions for grant providing organizations like corporate, public and private foundations to manage the disbursement of grants and analyze the outcomes associated with those grants and grantees.
A common nonprofit business requirement is batch gift entry, processing a collection of gifts in multiple segments. Salesforce didn’t support this need for some time, and until last year, processing collections required using third-party tools like Apsona. Upping the ante in their nonprofit solution offering, Salesforce addressed this gap by releasing their Nonprofit Cloud Batch Gift Entry. Effective for small to mid-sized nonprofits, it may also suffice for enterprise organizations, dependent upon their required complexities.
Microsoft’s Introduction into the Nonprofit Space
Microsoft’s D365, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer to this space. They have always supported nonprofit organizations through Dynamics, but they required many customizations compared to the traditional, more narrowly focused software vendors such as Blackbaud. However, in 2018 Microsoft declared that 2020 would be their year to become “the player” for supporting any size nonprofit organization. Strategically, this would be a logical extension of their existing suite of products already used by most nonprofits.
Fast forward to 2020, and Microsoft’s recent announcement continues to build its momentum as a “major player” in the nonprofit space. Sitting on top of D365, Fundraising and Engagement uses the Nonprofit Common Data Model, an open-source data platform used by D365 business applications, as does Microsoft’s nonprofit starter suite of products called Microsoft’s Nonprofit Accelerator Both Microsoft and Salesforce ecosystems have access to a plethora of third-party solutions that help “fill gaps” where unique constituent management, fund management, and other requirements become critical to nonprofit operations.
Conclusion: More Solutions, Better Integration
From an industry perspective, Microsoft’s recent — and big — entrance in the last two years caught Salesforce’s attention while also benefitting nonprofits indirectly in other ways. Other traditional, nonprofit CRM solutions like Blackbaud, iMIS and NetForum Enterprise have modified their service offerings considerably in response to these two titans battling it out for social impact prominence.
The technology evolution in this nonprofit ecosystem is transforming business models to offer a larger variety of commercially available solutions and products built in a more “open integration friendly” manner, which has been a major limitation of more traditional, proprietary “closed” solutions.
So, the long and short of it is both Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce products are viable solutions, and both companies are investing heavily in social impact and sustainability. While Salesforce has received recognition as the nonprofit solution leader, Microsoft’s recent nonprofit platform investments have made this competitive space even more interesting. The shape-shifting social impact tech world will keep evolving, as will our new “Business Anywhere” mindset for working.
This article was written on behalf of our Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Practice areas and contributions were made by practice area leads Carrie Butler, Jay Barnhart and Traci Whetzel.
We will be in the midst of all the action of Business Anywhere. For additional perspectives on challenges that social impact nonprofits are experiencing, and solutions to those challenges, you can also check out Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub, a social impact business accelerator co-founded by Centric in 2011 before social impact was even a buzzword.