With Salesforce.com's recent announcement that they will "donate free licenses for our technology to organizations headquartered in Haiti (for the next 10 years)", I'm sure the guys over at the Salesforce.com Foundation are busier than ever. If you are interested in donating your time to a nonprofit, contact the Salesforce.com Foundation and see how you can help.

The Saleforce.com Foundation has developed a great set of open-source Salesforce.com customizations to support some common nonprofit business processes called the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP). If you are a nonprofit looking to implement Salesforce.com or a developer looking to help out, you should seriously look into the NPSP.

I've implemented the NPSP at small nonprofits (10 employees) as well as large ones (3000+ employees) and it's use cases are applicable to virtually all of them. Steve Andersen, the Solutions Architect responsible for the NPSP, has done a great job updating, enhancing and supporting the NPSP. The installation process is well documented and smooth and the packages are feature rich, flexible and robust. I've had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with Steve and he's a great advocate for the Foundation and nonprofits in general. Steve and the Foundation have groomed a great culture of help and support within the Salesforce.com community. I've posted questions a number of times to the NPSP discussion group and received answers from Steve and other members within hours.

The NPSP is broken into the following packages (with my comments):

Nonprofit Starter Pack Contacts And Organizations - This is probably the most important package to install. It solves a major problem when dealing with individuals within Salesforce.com. With this package you can easily treat individuals as accounts to hook into existing Salesforce functionality.

Nonprofit Starter Pack Households - This is another custom object that allows you to group contacts into Households. We didn't use this package at the last implementation that I worked on but it's essential if you want to create mailings that limit the amount of correspondence to a single address.

Nonprofit Starter Pack Recurring Donations - This package is pretty slick for creating recurring donations, a common theme with pledges. For example, you may have an individual that has pledged to donate $1000 per month. When you create the donation, the NPSP will create a series of Opportunities providing pipeline forecasting.

Nonprofit Starter Pack Relationships - This package allows you to connects two contacts together in a relationship. With nonprofits, it's not what you know but who you know. This package allows you to track who knows who and then leverage those relationships.

Nonprofit Starter Pack Affiliations - Another great package to track associations. However, in this case it tracks relationship of people to organizations (accounts). You can track when a person worked for a specific company or when they were a board member for a specific foundation. It also tracks dates so you can see their current status of affiliation.

Steve has put together a large number of "how to" videos for the NPSP. I used them for general help but also showed them directly to the customer to see if each package met their needs. These videos are great time-saver.

Installation - One thing that really perplexed me was installation. Initially I could not find out how to install each package. Each package has it's own installation link and instructions. Click on one of the package links above and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the installation link: