If you have worked with a progressive activist organization over the last ten years, you have likely touched Salsa in some way. Salsa is a story like so many other tech firms before in which underinvestment diminishes the product over a period of time. I do not have the full story about the company dynamics, so I will not speculate as to the reasons why the product has been allowed to languish, but languish it has.
The recent acquisition/merger with Donor Pro seems like a further dalliance from the core strategy of developing high quality software in a way that keeps up with changes in the industry, especially mobile and and social media. Donor Pro was frankly a non-entity in the nonprofit CRM space and I can see very little gained from the acquisition other than that's just what tech companies are supposed to do.
Salsa's functionality as a complete CRM for a small to mid-sized nonprofit is still solid. It offers a constituent database, email marketing, event registration and payment, online advocacy and donation pages. It works and normally works well. The system also does chaptering for those organizations that have both national and local offices. Its missing a lot of more modern features covered below.
Salsa does offer a salesforce integration in addition to some other tools like attentive.ly for social listening. They do have a well-documented API, but there isn't an active eco-systems of developers. Salsa Labs does not seem to be doing the same type of encouragement developers or partnerships with other vendors.
If you just want to email your lists, then Salsa works. However, Salsa was very late to the social media game and does not really support social engagement in a way that meets the constituent engagement needs of organizations. Salsa is not a robust e-marketing platform that now exists in the market with automated triggers based on constituent behavior.
The reporting capabilities are fairly limited. The business intelligence trends that have taken over much of the industry have not really hit the Salsa platform. The truth is though that the standard reporting has always been deficient in its quality and devoid of data visualizations that you see in other systems.
User Interface: D
The only thing worse than the administrator interface (that was upgraded 5 years ago but still asks you if you want the new interface when you log on) is the front end user interface for some of the core e-advocacy and donation functionality. For example, Salsa was one of the first companies to deliver on Peer to Peer (P2P) Fundraising pages. Awesome! I've used it with great success....6 years ago. The interface is now stale, not mobile friendly and looks like a dinosaur compared to new P2P entrants click Classy.
Cost : A-
The costs for Salsa is still reasonable based on size of consituent database. Smaller organizations can still take advantage of the complete CRM with a price that fits most budgets.
Training and Support: B
The support has always been fairly solid. The user communities have trailed off a bit in their activity, but still serve as a good source for administration and user questions. The training is more limited and not nearly as robust set of user videos and documentation as other CRM systems.
Overall Grade: C+
Five years ago, I would have given Salsa a solid A because it provided a complete CRM solution with new features like e-advocacy and P2P fundraising at a reasonable price to nonprofit organizations, especially those groups that do a lot of advocacy. With little investment, the product has degraded over time and seems to be a real cross-roads as it now must contend with new market entrants like Blue State Digital and Every Action who also provide a complete CRM solution with e-advocacy, e-communications and online donation capabilities.