Understanding the Account Model

One of the key aspects of the Contacts and Organizations package is that it lets you choose how you want to store Contacts. Salesforce.com has a long history of being very good at tracking Contacts that represent people working at a company. The platform wasn't originally designed to track work done directly with individuals, when another company isn't involved. Because of this design history, the Nonprofit Starter Pack has functionality that augments how individuals are tracked. You have two options--The Individual account model, or the One-to-one account Model. This section describes the models, and some considerations for selecting the one appropriate to your organization.

What is an Account Model?

By default, all Salesforce.com Contacts are required to have an (1) Account (Organization) to be viewable to other users in the database. Many contacts for nonprofits may not have a company, or you may not know (or care about) the individual's company affiliation. To address this, the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP) supports two models: the 1x1 Account Model, and the Bucket Account Model. These 'models' represent different ways the NPSP can handle individuals without a company affiliation.

How do the two models differ?

For contacts where we do not have, or desire to have, a primary organization connection, our Account Model determines how that contact should be treated.

(1) In the 1x1 Account Model, our contact is automatically given an account with a name matching the contact. If we click on that newly created account, we're automatically redirected back to the contact page. The 1x1 account is not directly viewable.

(2) In the Bucket Acccount Model, our contact is automatically assigned to a 'bucket' account which holds all contacts without an organization. Generally, this account is called 'Individual', though it may be named differently in your organization. If we click on the bucket account, we're taken to the account and the list of contacts associated with it. The bucket account is directly viewable.

How can I select my Account Model?

(1) Select the 'Contact Settings' tab from your tab row (if this tab is not visible, you can find it by clicking the '+' sign on the far right-hand side of your tab row. It may also be visible in your 'Nonprofit Settings' app from the pull down menu in the top right hand corner)
(2) Select the model you wish to use.
(3) Click 'Update the Contacts and Organizations Settings'

It is important to note that although you may change your Account Model settings in your database at any time, those settings only apply to contacts newly added to the database. Existing data will need to be updated to match the new settings, and the change may effect existing customizations. For more information on bulk updating your contacts and other records, please see Working With Bulk Data

Which model should I choose?

With release 2.0.x and above of Contacts and Organizations, many of the inherent differences in the two models have become primarily cosmetic. However, there are still pros and cons to each model. Choosing the correct model for your organization will be based on how you intend to use and operate your Salesforce database, and which features and functionality are most important to you. It is highly recommended you try both models out before committing to one. If you're new to Salesforce, try entering some sample data and running reports in both models before importing any existing data. If you are currently running your database with live data in it, create a new sandbox, change your settings, and try the other model in the sandbox. Please make sure to consult with your local Salesforce expert and/or fully understand the implications of your changes before making any alternations to your live organization settings.

A Partial List of Pros and Cons for Each Model
1x1 Account Model
If you relate Opportunities to the individual's Account, you can create Rollup Summary fields that total Opportunities to the Account
Merging Contact records with Salesforce.com's standard Contact merge doesn't currently work--we've built an interface to allow merging
Lead conversion works but does not allow you to merge to an existing Contact or create an Opportunity upon Lead conversion
Bucket Account Model
This model has less impact on the standard functioning of Salesforce.com
Contact merge and Lead conversion work normally
Opportunities can't be rolled up to Contacts via Rollup Summary fields, but donation rollups are available through NPSP code.