Migrating from Raiser's Edge: Taming the Attributes Beast - KELL Partners
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Migrating from Raiser’s Edge: Taming the Attributes Beast

Longtime Raiser’s Edge users looking to migrate to Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) often face that migration with fear and trepidation. After years of creating custom attributes for constituents, proposals, and gifts, events, actions, etc., migrating all that data into a new system can seem daunting.

KELL has helped more than 70 nonprofits migrate from RE to NPSP, and we’ve developed a structured approach based on objective data and best practices so you’ll know what to keep, how to use it in Salesforce and what you can leave behind. In many ways, you can approach a RE migration like spring cleaning. You’ll find things you can throw away, things you know you need and things you may think about differently. Here are a few things to consider…


1) Tackle the Easy Stuff First

Some of your data decisions will be easy.  You can probably get rid of any attribute related to an RE action or that contains a date.  Common examples we’ve seen are attributes like “2009 Holiday Card” or “Thank You Call 2012”.  Attributes like these were useful for a brief time, but are often not worth migrating into Salesforce.

Another easy decision will be the attributes that you use the least.  KELL’s standard migration tools quickly tell you how frequently every attribute is actually used in your RE database to help make this process easier.

Now that you’re warmed up a little, it’s time to start thinking about how and why you have certain attributes.

2) Avoid tracking one piece of information in two different ways

It’s hard enough to keep one set of data accurate and consistent, but when you track the same thing in two different ways, you’re inviting future problems.

The best example of this is an attribute that classifies donors based on how much they give.  For example, you may classify someone who donates more than $25,000 with an attribute as a “Major Donor”.  That makes sense on the surface, but the “Major Donor” attribute is really a duplicate way of tracking how much someone has given.  It doesn’t tell you anything about that person that you couldn’t get from looking at their total donations.  Also, what happens if you change the definition of a Major Donor over time or add a designation for donations over $50,000?  Now that attribute is out of sync with your business.

Make a note of these situations and KELL can help you keep the most critical data and identify things like major donors or giving levels with Salesforce reports.

Now for the more complicated questions…

3) How does the Salesforce data model affect your attributes?

The Salesforce NPSP data model includes some fundamental differences relating to things like households, gifts and proposals and event management.  If you’re a longtime Raiser’s Edge user, you probably have a long list of attributes related to each of these areas, and you’ll need to figure out how to map those attributes (or not) to specific Salesforce data elements.  Let’s take households as an example, and let’s say that you have the following four attributes defined for each contact in your RE database:


  RE Attribute   Data Type
  T-shirt size   S, M, L, XL
  Board Member   Yes/No
  Estimated Wealth   <number>
  Spouse Name   <text>


The Salesforce data model includes both a Contact and a Household (with one or more contacts). You’ll need to decide which of these attributes apply to an individual contact record or that individual’s household record. In this case, it’s pretty clear that IF you wanted to keep each of these attributes, they would map in the data model as follows:


 RE  Attribute   Map in Salesforce to:
  T-shirt size   Contact record
  Board Member   Contact record
  Estimated Wealth   Household record
  Spouse Name   Not mapped; Create separate
contact record under same
household record


This is where your implementation partner will help you identify and make these decisions and then implement your changes into NPSP.  It’s important to choose a partner who has done lots of RE migrations and understands both Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce (like KELL).

4) The Ultimate Decision Criteria – Will You Report on it in Salesforce?

As you work through your migration, you’ll inevitably find issues that aren’t easy to address.  This is when you should lean on the expertise of an experienced implementation partner like KELL.

The ultimate decision criteria for any piece of data or any data structure is whether you can or will be able to use that data to make better decisions.  You’re investing in a new system, and you want to make it serve your organization and its mission.

If you’re considering a migration from Raiser’s Edge to NPSP, KELL can help.  With over 70 RE migrations under our belt, KELL understands where you’re coming from AND where you’re going.  We can help determine what information will be most useful and accessible in NPSP and how to maintain that information in a simple, sustainable way.

For more information, visit our Raiser’s Edge Migration Services page.