How First Book Meets Donor Expectations With Classy and Salesforce

By Ellie Burke
Reading Time: 3 minutes

As organizations grow and scale, so too does the amount of data they collect. And for a wide-reaching nonprofit social enterprise like First Book, making heads or tails of donor and constituent data can be quite the challenge.

Diana Peacock, SVP of Development and Alliances at First Book, knew that the organization’s ability to understand the full picture of their operations and make informed decisions depended on their multiple databases. Unfortunately, when it came to aggregating information, their previous solutions weren’t cutting it.

As First Book provides books and educational materials to children in need in both the U.S. and Canada, their data is housed in several different platforms:

  • First Book Marketplace, an e-commerce platform that offers deep discounts
  • A book bank of donated products
  • Marketing and donor databases

To make better sense and use of their data, First Book partnered with Classy, Salesforce consultant Renell Carpenter, and the team at Coastal Cloud—a platinum consulting partner of Salesforce. Working with Tim Gumto, the technical product manager at Classy, First Book was able to take steps to connect their disparate systems and build an integrated solution.

This power team came together for a panel at the 2017 Collaborative to dig into the integration and discuss key learnings for other nonprofits. We’ve highlighted a few main takeaways below—like First Book’s need to modernize to meet the consumer expectations of donors, and how working with Classy and Salesforce gave them the ability to see the full picture.

The Need to Modernize

As First Book grew, Diana and her team increasingly realized the need to engage donors more effectively. They needed to approach donors where they prefer to engage, and in the manner they prefer to be engaged. According to Diana, nonprofits need to match the bar set by other brands and online experiences in the marketplace—nonprofit or not.

You expect a First Book to have the same kind of one-click, frictionless experience as an Uber. … As a nonprofit sector, we need to catch up to that. Classy enables us to do that and we’re excited about the future enhancements coming from Classy in that way.

Donors are consumers, too. You need to consider the expectations they develop from their online interactions with other brands in order to deliver an exceptional experience that gains their trust and loyalty.

How we go about our work is scale. … We knew we needed a tool like Classy to scale our online fundraising and take our offline, community-based fundraising program into this current century.

To modernize their existing operations and set themselves up to scale impact, it was time to bite the bullet and complete a systems overhaul.

Partnering With Classy and Salesforce for a 360-Degree View

While Diana and her team knew it would be a multi-year journey to readdress their data management, they also knew a robust CRM like Salesforce would have the power to merge their e-commerce, donor, and marketing automation worlds.

Luckily, Classy is designed to work in parallel with Salesforce. The integration syncs directly into Salesforce’s full scale database, which houses the rest of First Book’s disparate data from other sources. With everything finally under one roof, First Book can use their data to create accurate reports and personalize the donor experience as they grow.

Working at Scale

“The thing that Classy allows us to do is harness the fact that First Book is a national organization with national and Canadian reach.

“But giving is local in many cases, and we have community-based fundraising programs across the country. The Classy interface allows our [community programs] to have an interface that is branded. The office can customize it based on the specific community they’re supporting and do the fundraising in Classy. That goes into Salesforce for my needs, and eventually, [I’ll be able to] report out across all 80 offices.” – Diana Peacock, SVP of Development and Alliances at First Book 

With the ability to collect data in this manner, Diana will soon be able to interpret results and accurately report back on the organization’s impact. This information can then be communicated to key stakeholders, and back to the donors themselves.


Be on the lookout for updates from our team on First Book’s use of the Classy for Salesforce integration as they lead the way for other organizations seeking to make sense of their data.

In the meantime, watch the full panel discussion below.

Speak to an Integration Expert

Subscribe to the Classy Blog

Get the latest fundraising tips, trends, and ideas in your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing

You signed up for emails from Classy

The email you subscribed is