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4 Tips for Nonprofit Website Projects

Are you in the midst of a website redesign or building a new nonprofit website from the ground up? There are many options available for nonprofit organizations looking to update their online home. Where do you start looking and what questions should you be asking potential vendors? One key question that is often overlooked, but critical to the long-term success of the website is “Which Content Management System (CMS) is going to be used”? A good CMS can make the content creation process more efficient, provide better security, allow for better data tracking, and a host of other positive benefits. A bad CMS on the other hand can be a log jam for effectively marketing your organizations great content and building sustainable relationships with your supporters.

Here are some notes and talking points from the trenches that could prove helpful in making a decision on which type of CMS to have your nonprofit’s website built on. These points are clearly biased to show why you should never go with someone who is offering to build your website on a custom CMS only used by that one developer or firm.

  1. You will be wed to the developer for as long as you have your nonprofit website being hosted on their CMS.
  2. If they go out of business or are not available to work on your account then you need to hire someone else who will need to learn the CMS and commit more hours to troubleshooting than would normally be needed – this will cost you even more time and money.
  3. Digital marketing is not part of the equation – have you ever tried Google Analytics event tracking in a custom CMS or creating a campaign specific landing page outside of your prefabbed templates? It is always shocking how poorly designed these platforms are for doing the “in the weeds” digital marketing that requires adding tracking pixels or integrating additional platforms like Google Analytics. These platforms are generally created to make it extremely easy for users to complete basic functions, but success in digital marketing is no longer a basic task.
  4. Open source platforms like WordPress and Drupal provide more long-term benefits.
    • They tend to have lower “out of the box” costs.
    • There are favorite for developers and agencies to work on. This means there will always be a supply of professionals that can work on your website if there is vendor or internal turnover.
    • In relations to the point above, higher turnover at nonprofits, especially in marketing departments that are being staffed with interns or more junior employees, means there is a huge knowledge loss when employees leave that are responsible for maintaining nonprofit website content.
    • The ecosystem is robust – there are lots of plugins and improvements that are being developed all the time.

Questions? Comments? Let us know in the comments below, or reach out to us on Twitter @MediaCause or by email at [email protected]



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