NonProfit CMS joins Gray Digital Group

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What is the best nonprofit CMS?

Posted on 18th November 2009 by Timothy Spell
By Admin |November 18th, 2009

Unless your nonprofit has more money than it knows what to do with, you’re most likely looking at 3 options right now for your nonprofit’s Content Management System (CMS): Joomla, Drupal and WordPress.  Here I will briefly describe each open source CMS and provide pros and cons for each  


is a unique publishing system with blog and wiki-like traits, the ability to run many sites and manage many users with variable roles and permissions. Drupal has tended to be built for and by programmers. Functionality, scalability, and customizability at every level has been prized over usability and aesthetics. Its extreme flexibility and scalability requires a steep learning curve and a lot of time to realize as benefits. For that reason, initially Drupal can seem too amorphous and lacking in definition. Due to its use by the Howard Dean campaign and Civicspace, Drupal acquired and has retained a cachet with NGOs and advocacy groups as a medium for “online democracy.”  


  • Extremely developer friendly. If I loved code more I would almost always pick this system.
  • Strong community to help discern the dozens (hundreds) of functions and tags available.
  • Can be used to create some really awesome websites that can outperform a majority of other sites out there.



  • Not very designer and user-friendly. It’s hard for someone with little code knowledge to make the leaps required to do the very cool things that Drupal is becoming known for.
  • Theming of Drupal has been a huge case of fail (until recently). Probably because it has been developers, not designers, that are making the themes.
  • Getting a Drupal website published could cost you more time, and thus more money, than WordPress or Joomla.



 was initially developed as a commercial, enterprise content management system. Its attractive, intuitive user interface is simple to operate and use to rapidly set up large websites with a professional appearance based on a wide variety of free and inexpensive templates. A large number of powerful extensions make it easy to add powerful new levels of functionality for news, community, ecommerce sites, etc. Joomla’s extensions often compensate for core weaknesses, limitations, and quirks. Joomla is uniquely geared toward development of commercial, monetized sites and stands out from Drupal and WordPress as having a well-established commercial template and extension market. A mix of free and fee-based products appears to offer more and better choices to users. Joomla is the most internationalized and internationally used of the three platforms considered here.  


  • Friendly for all types of users – Designers, Developers and Administrators
  • Huge community is awesome for assisting with creation of websites
  • Has been rapidly growing and improving itself for the past three years



  • Still not user-friendly enough for everyone to understand
  • Not quite as powerful as Drupal, and can be a bit confusing for some to jump into
  • Recently rebuilt the entire system from ground-up, and so there are still many out there sticking to the old versions (1.0.x)



 is a blog engine that is simpler, more accessible, and more flexible in its core content management, templating, and publishing functions than Drupal and Joomla are. Beyond basic CMS functions it is far more limited than Joomla and Drupal. Like Drupal, it takes considerable knowledge, learning, and time to develop a sizable, professional site with WordPress.  


  • Simple to use – No need for modifications
  • Excellent for blogging or sharing thoughts in a sequential manner
  • Even the least technical of users can get the hang of it quickly



  • Not developer when it comes to building complex web applications
  • There are frequent upgrades released to fix bugs and security breaches.


In Summary, if you have over a $10,000 budget and are looking for complex web applications built, your best option is using Drupal or Joomla.  If you are a smaller nonprofit and are looking for a great looking website that is search engine friendly, look to WordPress

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