Salesforce Certification for Advancement Operations: A Strategic Approach

Advancement departments are increasingly adopting Salesforce as their Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) platform of choice. And with this adoption, they face a similar question: How do we best prepare the advancement operations teams to support this powerful tool effectively? And are Salesforce certifications worth it?


One common consideration is encouraging or requiring team members to obtain Salesforce certifications—like Salesforce Administrator, Business Analyst, or Architect. While Salesforce certification and training can be valuable, it’s essential to approach this decision with intention and careful planning.

Are Salesforce Certifications Worth It?


A Salesforce certification dictates advanced skills in the platform and a deep understanding of its use. Earning a Salesforce certification demonstrates a commitment to professional development. The additional knowledge helps teams jump into new projects and solve problems while also executing intelligent, practical business solutions.

Develop Your Support Model

Before rushing to certify your entire team with a Salesforce certification, develop a Contracting, Listening, Exploration, Action, and Review (CLEAR) support model. CLEAR is a coaching model that builds trust, rapport, and clarity between the coach and the coachee.


When deciding whether to achieve Salesforce Certification, CLEAR defines the responsibilities of your advancement operations team and identifies what will be shared with the central information technology (IT) department. This line of separation is crucial to ensure efficient support and avoid confusion or duplication of efforts.

Assess Team Needs

Once you have defined your team’s scope of responsibilities, it’s time to assess the knowledge and skills needed to fulfill those duties effectively. Consider the following questions.

  • Do you have enough staff to meet the demands of supporting Salesforce certification within your Advancement operations?
  • Does your current staff possess the necessary skill set beyond product knowledge, which includes industry knowledge and an understanding of relevant methodologies?

Create a Professional Development Plan

Create a comprehensive professional development plan for your advancement operations team based on your assessment. This plan should outline specific knowledge and skills each team member may need to acquire or improve to support your Salesforce implementation effectively. The plan should also consider everyone’s unique needs and career goals.

A Salesforce Certification or Not?

With your professional development plan in place, you can now decide whether a Salesforce certification aligns with your team’s needs and goals. If a Salesforce certification is deemed necessary and beneficial, it should be pursued as part of the overall professional development strategy.


However, it’s important to remember that a Salesforce certification alone doesn’t guarantee success. For the best results, it should be combined with practical experience, continuous learning, and a deep understanding of your institution’s specific requirements.


Deciding whether to pursue a Salesforce certification for your advancement operations team requires careful consideration and planning. Don’t just aim to obtain Salesforce certifications but foster a continuous learning and growth culture within your advancement operations team.