We're excited to announce that we will be moving from Wild Apricot to Salesforce, which will allow us to streamline our services and communications to members.
Wild Apricot has been a wonderful platform for the last several years, but in order to grow, we felt like a change was required.
How will this affect you?
- Beginning in January 2024, we will direct people to our new membership, donations and event forms to pay for their memberships, register for events, or make a donation.
- We are creating a portal for our individual members' convenience to access their contact, membership, event, and donation data in case they need to make any changes to their information, request tax receipts, or check their registrations.
- If you are an organizational member, please continue to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-371-4348) to change your contact person or other details.
- We are also planning to move our AAF & CMF grant applications over to Salesforce. This process probably won't be completed until the end of 2024, so in 2025, you will have a new applicant experience. As we learn more, we will let you know!
- Since Wild Apricot is also the system we created and host our website on, we will also be building a new website that we plan to launch in Spring 2024.
More information about why and how we came to the decision to move to Salesforce is below.
If you are looking for a new donor and member management system, the "Who did we consider?" section may be helpful. Feel free to reach out with any questions!
Why did we decide to move from Wild Apricot?
Our current Wild Apricot service term ends next June. While the system is very convenient and inexpensive considering all the tools it provides, it has also been limited. We can't track major donors, grants we apply for, soft credits for donations made through Facebook or PFD donations, or in-kind donations. If we want to grow and get a full picture of our donors, we needed more tracking options.
We don't currently use Wild Apricot for our mass emails because if we input all of our contacts, we would be bumped to a more expensive level with no added benefits. This is why we used Mailchimp for enews and other non-member specific announcements. If we were going to pay more so we could include all of our contacts in one place, we wanted more features.
Wild Apricot is also very limited in its reporting features, and there were a few other improvements we would have liked to see.
However, we weren't sure if there was a system that better fit our needs, so we decided to do some research and meet with other platforms.
We do want to make it clear that Wild Apricot is a wonderful option for a small organization and we would recommend it for small museums who need a platform that provides a website, online store, contact database, online membership and donation capabilities, automated renewal emails to members, and mass email capabilities.
If you are a small museum looking for an affordable all-in-one platform, please contact us and we can talk to you about our experience with Wild Apricot. It might be an amazing platform for you!
We are simply in a growth phase and needed a more robust platform.
Who did we consider?
We seriously considered four platforms:
NeonOne - This was the platform that came in second place to Salesforce for us. NeonOne is a more sophisticated version of Wild Apricot. You can host your website on their platform with their website builder. They have all the functionality of Wild Apricot, as well as the ability to track major donors, grant tracking, create automated welcome series emails, and more robust reporting. Unfortunately, as a museum association, we have special needs, like the ability to create member-only content, which was not possible on this platform. But if you are a museum searching for a platform like Wild Apricot, I would recommend you reach out to NeonOne as well.
Every Action (now Bonterra) - This was a third runner up. Every Action is very similar to NeonOne, but they don't have the website builder, so you would have to have your own third-party website on Wix or Wordpress or something similar. A really wonderful tool that is built in to this platform is an advocacy tool to draft template emails and social media posts that constituents can send to their representatives. This is a tool that would be very helpful to us as a museum association, but once again there was a lack of ability to create members-only content.
Charity Engine - Charity Engine was another strong contender. They even have a built in auction tool, which no other platform had. But in the end, they were out of our price range.
Salesforce - After meeting with all four platforms, we ended up choosing Salesforce's Nonprofit Success Pack.
Why did we choose Salesforce?
We chose Salesforce because it is a highly extensible platform that will grow with us.
Salesforce was created as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for corporations. About a decade ago, they began building a nonprofit side of their CRM.
Salesforce is the back-end CRM. It's a database for people—your interactions with people and their interactions with you. In Salesforce, we can track our contacts, members, donors, foundations and the grants we apply for, and major donors. We can track hard credits for donations, soft credits, and in-kind gifts. We can also track our communications—mass communications emails and personal emails.
It also comes with robust reporting capabilities and customizable dashboards for easily accessible data reporting.
In order to interact with our members and donors, we can purchase any number of apps to extend the abilities of the CRM. For instance, we have added an app that will allow us to take online membership payments, donations, and event registrations and track them in Salesforce.
We've also added an app that will allow us to create mass emails and segment our audience based on their relationships with us.
But many of the other systems we looked at had these functionalities as well, so why choose Salesforce?
We decided Salesforce was the best option because of these three things:
- Salesforce has a very robust content portal that comes with the Nonprofit Success Pack. We can create a portal for our members that has on-demand courses, templates, recorded webinars, community conversation sections where people can ask and answer questions, and more. It will likely take us a year or more to create the content portal—so please don't look for it anytime soon—but this ability to host a wide variety of educational content was one of the main selling features for Salesforce.
- Salesforce is also a grant management platform for those who give out grants. I first noticed Salesforce when I applied to the Henry Luce Foundation for the expansion of the Access to Alaska Native Collections program. My grant applicant experience through this platform was positive, so we decided to reach out to Salesforce to learn more about their system. The opportunity to have EVERYTHING we manage under one platform and one database was a real bonus. No other system we looked at had a grant management capability.
- Also, because Salesforce's rate scale is based on how many admin and applicant logins you need instead of the number of grant programs you are managing, the grant platform is less expensive than the one we are currently using.
- And finally, we have room to grow. Salesforce gives all nonprofits 10 user licenses for free. We have one staff member, so even if we add staff members in the future, we will continue to pay roughly the same price for the CRM for years to come.
What are our current costs?
If we renewed Wild Apricot in 2024, we would pay $2,448/year. And GOSmart costs us $3,500/year for two grants programs with two cycles each.
Our total annual cost in 2024 would be $5,948 to keep the same functionality we have now.
How much is Salesforce costing Museums Alaska?
We have signed a five year contract, and pay $5,589 annually for the Salesforce CRM and grant management system. This includes:
- 10 free licenses for the CRM and content portal administration
- $2,100/year for the grant management system
- which includes 100 applicant logins and 1 admin login
- $720/year for 40 member logins a month
- for member-only content - this amount may increase after we build a member portal and more people need to log-in every month
- $150/year to connect gmail inbox to Salesforce
- to record important non-mass emails to Salesforce
- $2,619/year for Premier Success Plan
- 24/7 assistance and as-needed, one-on-one training
- the rate is based on 30% of the total annual cost including the original cost of the free licenses
- $1,728/year - $144/month for ten licenses
- $630/year - $52.50/month for grant management
- $216/year - $18/month for 40 logins
- $45/year - $3.75/month for gmail connection
We have also added third party apps for our specific needs:
~$600/year - Payments2US - allows us to take online donations, memberships, and event registrations. The original price is in AUD, so the conversion to USD will change every month, hence the "about" sign in front of the amount.
$600/year - Campaign Monitor - allows us to send mass emails, automated email series, and segment our audience as needed.
Sidenote: We hope to add the SoapboxEngage app in the future, so we can create advocacy messages that our community can email to their state and local representatives. This will cost about $1,188/year.
Because our website is currently created on and hosted by Wild Apricot, we have to build a new website as well. We decided on a Wordpress website using Alaskan developer, Weber & Co. Our annual hosting cost will be $1,500.
Total Cost and Difference:
Our new total annual cost, with Salesforce, the two apps, and our new website is: $8,289/year.
This is $2,341/year more than we currently pay for Wild Apricot and GOSmart, but it provides much higher functionality and room to grow.
We are currently using our Rasmuson Foundation grant to pay for the new system, but we will move most of the costs to our general operating budget in 2025.
While Salesforce is more expensive than Wild Apricot, it is less expensive than some of the other platforms we investigated. We see it as an investment because the added functionality will help us grow, and its highly extensible nature will allow us to remain on the platform for many years to come.
If you have any questions about our shift to the new platform or about any of the platforms mentioned in this post, please let me know by emailing email@example.com or calling me at 907-371-4348.