Content Management Systems For Non-profit Organizations

As an advocate for Non-Profit Tech, I always find that people always ask me about Content Management Systems and which one I like the most. I don’t think that’s the right question when you are trying to find a content management system for your non-profit. I think the correct question is - based on how my non-profit is set up, what Content Management System makes sense for us. Let’s try to break it down:

Small or non-existent IT team

If you are a non-profit that focuses more on your message and the IT part of your team is knowledgeable, but not actual designers and developers then something like WordPress may make sense for you. But wait, before you stop reading and go look for WordPress themes, let’s talk about the actual development of a WordPress theme.

WordPress is fantastic in the sense that content managers can easily add content to their websites without a huge learning curve, but sometimes people grab any theme and they come with an enormous amount of plugins and theme options that are hard to set up and harder to maintain. On the opposite spectrum, you can select a very simple theme and find that you don’t have some of the functionality you really need to move your non-profit forward.

This is where a custom theme developed by a professional WordPress theme developer comes in handy. When we build websites in WordPress we meet with clients to discuss their needs and figure out what their goals are and how we can create a website that will help them meet and exceed those goals. I myself, try to think of the after. What pieces do we need to be modular in order to help the client do or begin the next step after the goal. This could be something as simple as landing pages or as complicated as API connections to your donor softwares like Luminate Online, Classy or Donor Drive.

We have a Developer, a Designer and a comms team

I think most non-profits fall into this realm. You have an internal web developer, maybe an external agency you work with occasionally, an in-house designer that creates your campaign and a comms team to help you write those great content pushes. So what CMS would be good for you? Well, I think depending on the skill level internally, you have some options. One of the worst things you can do, is use or create something so convoluted that you can’t hand it off without a 100 page white paper on all the bandaids you have created.

For a team like this, WordPress, Drupal or Jekyll is a good choice. Drupal has been perceived as the Content Management System of choice for non-profits, but their support and maintenance could prove a bit costly. Jekyll is an alternative to both in the fact that it is a static site generator. It has less moving pieces for the user and since it’s static and doesn’t need to connect to a database to show information, you can rest assured that it’s speed and security are top notch.

We have and IT team with web developers, designers and are totally in-house

Outstanding! There’s so many things you can accomplish as a non-profit from an IT perspective that smaller non-profit’s may need some extra help with, but you still have to make a decision and consider who your audience is and who is posting the content. Some non-profits like to hand everything over to their web team and have them post everything. If this is the case, then any of the systems mentioned before would work for you. With a team like that though, I would at least venture into the possibility of a system like Jekyll. You have the flexibility to create a continuous deployment structure while having the confidence that the website is less vulnerable than other options. You can also start looking into the future to really push your non-profit into the NPTech world.

As with all Content Management Systems, you have your good and bad. I think you need to weigh your options and determine which one is right for your team. I am here to help a non-profit or even a small business trying to determine what CMS is right for them. Just shoot me a note using the form below.