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Nonprofits often run their organizations on a tight budget and try to spend as little as possible on things like technology in order to dedicate more money to their organization’s cause and mission. This is an honorable goal, but when organizations try to save money by sharing Salesforce licenses, they put their organization at risk. 

Here's Why

1. User accountability is a must-have for any CRM

Knowing who logs into Salesforce, where they are, when they do so, and what actions they perform can give insight if anything goes wrong. Salesforce features like Field History Tracking allow visibility into which user makes a change to a field and when this change was made. These can only be of value if each user has their own license. Other valuable features that provide accountability include the Setup Audit Trail and User Login History.

2. Keeping accurate tabs on activities, tasks, next steps and constituent communications are key to your organization’s success

Many of the standard Salesforce features are geared towards record ownership, and they can only be used if one user is allowed per login. Things like “my accounts” and “my reports” mean nothing if there are multiple people using one license.

The task/activities feature is designed to manage one user’s to-do list.  Who is responsible for those tasks and next steps? It's difficult to know if multiple users are logging in with the same user license.

Users can also send communications to individuals or groups of constituents through Salesforce.  Not knowing which person actually communicated with a constituent makes it difficult to manage and develop deeper relationships, especially with large donors.  Isn't that the reason your organization is using a CRM in the first place?

3. Dealing with passwords and turnover issues is a real pain

If turnover is an issue at your nonprofit, then each time a person who has access to a shared login leaves for any reason, the password has to be reset. This is an inconvenience for those team members who remain, and is a big risk if you forget to actually make the change when necessary.

4. You’ll need visibility into user adoption

User adoption is critical when an organization has invested time and money into implementing a sophisticated system such as Salesforce. Unfortunately, shared licenses do not allow insight into who is adopting the system and who is not logging in. Salesforce even provides an out-of-the-box user adoption dashboard to help you gauge who’s actually using your system. But those metrics won’t mean much if you don’t know who’s behind them.

5. Chatter is rendered useless

Chatter is a fantastic feature that allows for collaboration, file sharing and more in Salesforce. Much like a social network, users can chat and share information with other users quickly and easily.  But being able to connect the user to the chat is central to the functionality of Chatter. If more than one person is using a license, then Chatter is almost useless. 

6. It’s a legal thing

No one really wants to hear this one, but sharing licenses actually violates Salesforce’s terms of service on the Master Subscription Agreement that was signed in order to activate your instance.

7. Maintaining data security is almost impossible

Ensuring the security of your constituents' personal and financial information is absolutely critical. Recent high-profile data breaches and new privacy legislation (GDPR) mean that data security represents both a reputational risk and a legal risk to your organization.  If you're sharing Salesforce licenses across multiple users, your organization can't implement even the most basic data security protocols related to user access and accountability.  

So, CAN licenses be shared?

Technically, yes. But for all the reasons above and so many others, they really should not be shared. Your organization and constituents will be better off with data that is reliable and secure. Not to mention, your staff can use all of the amazing features of Salesforce that were designed to help improve your fundraising and work more efficiently.

So thoughtfully consider purchasing a license for each user and view it as an investment in your organization instead of a cost. Your constituents will benefit in the long run.

Updated 6/20/2018