Blog post

Introducing the OpenTent Fellowship

Samuel Adiv
April 7, 2019

How We Got Here

We are in this work because we care about strengthening the field of strong relationship management for organizations doing good in the world. Part of that work involves building beautiful systems - which we're doing - and part of it is about equipping and empowering the teams running those organizations to use their new tools effectively.

Across our clients and our partners, we have witnessed how the second goal - the staffing piece - is much harder than the first (the technical). It is challenging for most nonprofits to find good CRM Admins and onboard them to successfully deliver return on investment. It's difficult for many organizations to hire for these roles (recruitment and screening are both hard), and then even once they manage to hire someone in this role, knowing how to supply adequate professional development and technical supervision is also difficult since those skills usually don't exist on the current team.

The Idea

OpenTent takes the burden of finding and hiring a qualified new employee off of our client's shoulders and manages their CRM Admin’s supervision and training to ensure quality of work product and continued employee improvement. We do this by hiring a "Fellow" for two years - doing all the recruitment, screening, onboarding, training, professional development, project management coaching, and success evaluation on the client's behalf. But this is not  outsourced services: the Fellow will work in the client's office in order to sit in on meetings, build relationships with the team there, and absorb the culture in order to deliver better CRM admin work.

We're kicking this off with one Fellow for our client Central Synagogue. As we get deeper into this beta launch and work out some of the kinks, we'll start opening this program up to more of our clients. If you are interested in bringing on an OpenTent Fellow to your team, or if you have comments + questions about this new program, be in touch:

Here's some more about how we think this might look:


  • OpenTent hires a Fellow who commits to working as the OpenTent Fellow at your organization for two years.
  • The Fellow spends four days a week (Monday-Thursday) at your office, doing Salesforce admin + adjacent work with you.
  • The Fellow spends one day a week (Friday) at the OpenTent office, doing training + professional development with us.
  • The Fellow’s salary, health insurance, training, professional development, and supervision are all provided by OpenTent.
  • The Fellow attends all your company-wide events (including major meetings and conferences) and all OpenTent company-wide events (including major team retreats and conferences).
  • The Fellow will participate in the Salesforce Administrator Certification Course and will complete and pass the Salesforce Administrator Certification in the first six months on the job.

Who is your OpenTent Fellow?

  • Completed an undergraduate degree
  • 1-3 years of tech-related or nonprofit-related work experience
  • Tech skills and aptitude
  • Nonprofit passion and collaborative instincts
  • Lives within commuting distance of your office

Who your OpenTent Fellow is NOT:

  • An experienced Salesforce consultant
  • A nonprofit management professional
  • A strategic thought partner for long-term program measurement

What does your OpenTent Fellow do?

  • Configure Salesforce and related applications on a basic admin level. This includes building reports/dashboards, importing data, supporting form and new feature builds.
  • Train other staff members individually and by department on best practice use of Salesforce based on organizational needs.
  • Document key policies, procedures, best practices and use cases specific to the organization.
  • Advise organizational planning and measurement of program success using Salesforce. This means joining meetings and “wearing the data hat” to ask the right questions and help all staff think about ways to better incorporate data into their work.
  • Support staff by responding to training needs and technical questions, and logging and escalating support requests in OpenTent’s internal project management software.
  • Listen to organizational trends and cultural vibes in the office in order to share with OpenTent, which will strengthen the quality of our consulting work with you.
  • Learn more, constantly. Regular and disciplined learning will be a key component to Fellow growth and increased ROI for the organization.

What does OpenTent do?

  • Manage the Fellow to ensure quality work output. This happens through participation in OpenTent’s daily standup meeting, and through weekly check-ins to prioritize tasks and review deliverables and make sure they conform to best practices.
  • Coach the Fellow on how to best work with the client’s staff team.
  • Train the Fellow on excellent CRM configuration and office practices. This includes bringing the Fellow into the broader Salesforce nonprofit user group ecosystem through in-person and online communities.
  • Consult on more advanced and larger projects which exceed the technical capacity of the Fellow (these would be structured through a separate Scope of Work).
  • Facilitate quarterly progress reviews with the Fellow and the client.

What do you need to do?

  • Integrate the Fellow into your staff team as much as possible. The Fellow should be considered a part of your core staff team.
  • Include the Fellow in all meetings in which CRM/data/measurement/tech systems might come up so that they can provide input and help shape Salesforce to meet team needs.
  • Identify an internal staff person who will serve as the OpenTent Fellow’s “Champion” to be their point person on the client side and OpenTent’s point person for the program. This person is not a typical supervisor but will play a major role in setting goals and ensuring client needs are communicated to the Fellow and to OpenTent. This person should plan to spend at least one hour a week checking in with the Fellow and OpenTent.
  • Communicate with us and the Fellow to make sure your expectations are being met. Participate in weekly check-ins with us to ensure we’re aligned on priorities and supervision.
  • Provide a desk for the Fellow and full access to your relationship-management and communication systems.
  • Support the Fellow in focusing on their CRM-related work and prioritizing and delivering client needs.
  • Celebrate delivered product functionality and met goals by sharing this news across the staff team.

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