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The benefits of using a CMS

The benefits of using a CMS

  • Does your nonprofit use a content management system? If you do use a CMS, how do you keep content organized and updated? Are there any free or low-cost tools you'd recommend?
    senior editor, TechSoup
  • This is a big question!
    There are so many tools to chose from. Most non-profits I know end up with either an open-source solution or a hosted CMS.
    Open source one gives a lot of flexibility - but requires that you have a staff or volunteer with relevant skills - and that you can count on having him/her around for a few years.
    Hosted CMSes are attractive because they are very inexpensive.
    HotBanana - around $30/month

    Drupal (hosted) - $15-20/month

    Our own system - Wild Apricot - also includes a CMS.

    The key thing is to figure out your specific needs and balance between:
    - features
    - ease of use
    - customization capabilities
    - maintenance and hosting
    - support
  • We use [url-]JOOMLA[/url] for the site. It's free with most hosting plans and there are hundreds of great templates to choose from.

    On another site, (local Spanish immersion school- based on Mambo - probably should upgrade soon :-) we have a few parents who volunteered to help and each have their own section of the site they are tasked with keeping current.



    Marc Trimble Director [b] Hosting for NP's and NGO's worldwide.

  • Here at Social Sector Service Delivery, we use a combination of Sharepoint 1.1 (got it for free), PostNuke (open source) and NetOffice (for project management, also open source). This uses 2 web servers (Apache and IIS 5.1) running on ports 80 and 8888. For a web-based help desk and asset management system, we use Ilient (free for 100 clients) running Tomcat ( a Java-based server) on port 8080.
    russell -
  • As a current .net developer and a former E-Zine editor, I can give a few points on my experince in this area.

    The type of CMS needed for a Non-Profit org is dependent on the use and importance of the Internet application in the org.

    DotNetNuke and Rainbow is a simple effective solution.

    While some developers still argue these are not "True CMS", they still work quite well for small to medium orgs as a CMS. It is easy to set up for different roles for content management, and takes very little training and no technical expertise to manage content once implemented.

    They are open source so they are free, and most medium to large hosting companies’ offer them as free add-ons to hosting plans. Your webadmin can implement them with a few button clicks.

    Skin Templates (Look and Feel) can be purchased from $35 to $100 from a host of places on the internet. Custom Skin Templates run between $350 and $2,500 depending on requirements, the average cost is around $800, from a qualified developer in your area our on the net.

    If your Internet content and management is integral part of you non-profit's mission then you should consider a commercial CMS.

    This a list of all CMS (OpenSource, Freeware, Commercial)

    Some of these systems can be very expensive. I often tell my clients, when it comes to tech it is usually better to spend more in the beginning on the more expensive reliable and proven software and hardware systems, then to pay more later on for tech-support and down time with the less expensive software and hardware systems, which almost always is more expensive in the end.

    On the content, always have a review system in place before posting. It is easy to miss the simple mistakes and those are the ones that stand out the most.


    Brigid Collins Family Support Center
  • Depends on the size of your organisation and the complexity of your website.

    I usually recommend WordPress for small nonprofits. It's often thought of as a blogging tool but recent versions have added features that make it a more credible CMS. Installation is quick and simple. It takes only an hour or two to learn to edit content using it. There are thousands of free templates available and if you know html and css it's easy to create your own.

    Recently I've created these WordPress-based sites: Relate and Caring Choices

    Jason King
    Nonprofit Web Design Blog
  • I have experience with about a dozen CMS applications, and I still have a fondness for the free ones.

    SharePoint Server 2007 is fantastic, but configuring it, customizing it, and getting support for it can be costly in terms of time and money.

    Go with something like Joomla, and there is a huge community out there waiting to help you out.
    Best, Josh Milane MIT Technical Consulting
  • We use contribute 3, and i have found it frustrating to only be able to edit certain parts of the website. How the page looks in 'edit' mode is very different from how it ends up looking once 'published'.
    There are a lot of things i would like to add and change in our website including a map that helps clients find which of the 41 branchs they can use for service, a members only section, as well as new pictures, adding a few pages of 'about us' and recruitment tools.
    Does anyone know of any good online sources of information about Contribute to help me along?