What is the Best CMS for a Nonprofit Website?

What is the Best CMS for a Nonprofit Website?

A content management system, or CMS, is the administrative system of your nonprofit’s website that allows your team to add, edit, and manage content quickly and efficiently.

A CMS can make it easy for your organization to publish new pages, add news and ensure your website stays fresh and relevant. Results from frequent publishing include increased web traffic, more donations, and better engagement with your audiences — but only if you choose the right CMS. The wrong CMS will have the opposite effect and end up costing your organization money in the long run.

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To ensure that you choose the best CMS for your nonprofit website, here are the four essential features a CMS must have in order to be a viable option:

  1. Ease of use. There is no way around it; you need a CMS that’s easy for your team to update and maintain on a day-to-day basis. While some of your employees may be tech savvy, the majority of nonprofit staff members will be uncomfortable navigating complex backend interfaces. We recommend choosing a system that’s intuitive, easy to use, and requires minimal training.
  2. Ample support. We always recommend going with a popular CMS because they tend to have the largest supporter base. This is a particularly important requirement if your staff isn’t tech savvy. Confirm that your employees will be able to get in touch with a support team member easily or find a suitable developer if they have any issues to receive timely, reliable help.
  3. Flexibility and scalability. Chances are good that — at some point in the future — your organization will want to add additional features to your website. Confirm that the CMS you choose can handle later expansions. The ideal system should fit your organization’s needs today and a few years from now.
  4. Cost. For nonprofits cost can be a major factor. For websites, cost comes in two forms: 1. project cost for designing and developing the website and 2. longterm cost of owning, operating and maintaining the website. Maintenance costs will be far higher for websites that may pose security risks or when it is challenging to find a developer that is familiar with the system. Open source technology with a broad support community is often the best from an overall budget standpoint–with more options for security, support, add-ons and an accessible knowledge base.
  5. Powerful SEO features. Your CMS can make or break your organization’s SEO efforts, which is why you need a system designed to produce SEO-friendly websites. As a baseline, we recommend a CMS that supports customizable URLs, page titles, and meta data; analytics that track site visitors; and an extensible environment well-suited for digital marketing.

Now that you know the key features nonprofits should look for in a CMS, it’s time to evaluate your options. Here are the three CMSs we recommend for nonprofit websites, along with their strengths and weaknesses:

  1. Wordpress logoWordPress. WordPress is our most frequently recommended CMS for nonprofit organizations because it’s the most versatile, has the largest supporter base, and provides a robust platform for web development. As developers, we can adapt the platform to create any website your nonprofit needs — including fundraising sites, event pages, news and magazine sites, and marketing sites. WordPress is a powerful system for all size nonprofits–from small to large.

It has all the features nonprofits need in a CMS, including substantial SEO capabilities; multiple author participation; content optimization features; and flexibility and scalability. In addition, it provides a mobile responsive framework that allows users to manage the site from any device–desktop, tablet or mobile. For large nonprofits, it offers enterprise-level features including multi-site management, WordPress API, modular architecture, and a very in-depth developer manual. Wordpress is the most popular CMS in the world, because of it’s rich features and extensibility. Plus, WordPress contains an auto-update feature, which dramatically reduces security fears and maintenance costs longterm.

HubSpot COS vs WordPress: How to Choose the Best Website Platform

In terms of user experience, WordPress’s clean, simplistic design can’t be beaten. The entire system is intuitive, reliable, and incredibly easy to learn — even for non-tech savvy employees.

  1. Hubspot COS logoHubSpot COS. HubSpot COS is another excellent choice for nonprofit websites. Like WordPress, it has all the basic features nonprofits need, including SEO and keyword assistance, blog publishing tools, permalinks, and content optimization features. The dashboard is clean and intuitive, allowing any employee to use this system with ease — even without a tech background. Staff members can quickly create new pages, build the content, preview it on any device, and publish it right away.

One of HubSpot’s most attractive features is its “smart content”, which allows your organization to intelligently show relevant website content to the right people at the right time. Nonprofits can use this feature to personalize their interactions with donors through custom thank you messages; personalized newsletters; and targeted content and stories that meet donor interests. Hubspot COS is not an open-source solution. However, it’s powerful all-in-one marketing solutions make it one of the most formidable fundraising and integrated marketing systems around–a great option for medium-size and large nonprofits.

  1. Drupal logoDrupal CMS. Drupal is a powerful and sophisticated software system that we tend to recommend for larger nonprofits. It has comparable SEO strength and content capabilities to WordPress and HubSpot COS, and has powerful extensibility options. Drupal may prove too costly for many small and some mid-size nonprofits, especially if those organizations cannot manage on-going tech-savvy maintenance support.

On the pros side, Drupal is excellent for building feature-rich and data-intensive websites. Like WordPress, Drupal has a large support community of loyalty technologists. It can also easily accommodate enterprise-level needs for posting a large volume of content and meeting security requirements.

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