My daughter was 18 recently and I gave her a present; a small car – well, it’s really for the family, but it is an extra car on which she can learn to drive.

I hope it will survive as a first car for her siblings.  It was a pragmatic decision.  I thought it would be the most cost effective way of getting them all on the road at an affordable price.


From her point of view driving is FREE.  I want to give her personal freedom, but selfishly also want her to transport other members of the family to and from railway stations, places of work and school.


However, she is completely oblivious to the real cost of this new found freedom…insurance (don’t ask), my time and that of her mother (theoretical and real lost earnings), the driving instructor (he uses his own car with dual controls – which is why he still has hair), petrol, servicing…and don’t forget her own time when she should/could be earning money.

It’s not FREE but from her point of view it is.

Naively I thought I might find the washing up done a bit more or the rubbish being put out to compensate for my investment…but, it was ever thus; and I’ve no doubt she will go through exactly the same with her children one day…unless automated transport has taken over.

So why is this relevant for Salesforce?

For several years Westbrook has been working with non profit organisations through a programme called ‘force for good’TM.

During that time we believe we’ve helped well over 100 non profit organisations to use Salesforce and related applications in such a way that they are more effective and efficient.

I’m confident in most cases we’ve left each in a much better position than when we started supporting them but, like my daughter, there are times when we get the odd rumbling when relationships get strained.  I imagine the poor driving instructor will be dropped or I get the cold shoulder as it will clearly be our fault if she doesn’t pass her test first time around!

Salesforce is a fantastic business tool.  It has benefited from huge levels of investment, supported by a loyal and growing commercial base, and the Salesforce Foundation, set up in the early days by Marc Benioff, has been able to offer FREE capability and the same quality service as the largest commercial organisations.

But, to extend the analogy above, it’s like giving my daughter a Ferrari to learn to drive on.  I’m not sure I could afford the insurance!

Giving Salesforce to a small non profit is not dissimilar.  It can do almost anything and they normally want all the benefits the salesman told them it could provide.

The question is whether having it too quickly is best for them?  Now I don’t want to take away the fun, but it’s always best to start from a firm footing of both understanding and training.

I would always recommend Salesforce to a non profit as the platform which gives them maximum flexibility to grow and improve their efficiency.  However, I strongly suggest they get some support.  Above all, like my daughter, find an instructor you trust.  Her first instructor was an “independent”;  he was “cost effective” but made little progress.  She now has one who is part of a formal network, seems to cost a lot, but in whom she has complete faith and is now ready for her test in half the time expected.

She tolerates her parents (the equivalent of friends and amateurs who often claim to know better than the professionals).

The analogy is the same.  If you want a FREE CRM such as Salesforce, consider how you are going to train, manage and develop it before you start.  Consider the amount of your time investment that is needed to succeed, and the risks of not being properly supported.  Do you want…

A gifted amateur who offers you FREE training – do they have the skills to teach the basic principles accurately?

An “independent” because they are recommended and cost effective – who will rectify if it goes wrong?

A certified delivery partner – do they empathise with us?  Do you trust them?  Can you afford them? Do they have the underlying skills to sort out unexpected technical challenges?

A FREE Ferrari is nice, and a great status symbol, but you need different types of instructor to be confident and proficient in driving one.


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