Recently, I dug under the web’s couch cushions to understand which content management tools nonprofits are currently using to manage their websites. I had pressing questions like:

  • How many nonprofits still update their sites by hand with HTML editors like Dreamweaver?
  • How many are using a pure CMS like WordPress or ones with fundraising hooks like NetCommunity?
  • How many nonprofits still trudge along with homegrown solutions “by a guy who used to work here”? (Yes, real quote.)

We analyzed over 800 small and medium-sized nonprofits to discover how each manages their website and came across a few interesting findings.

Here’s 3 key lessons we learned.

LESSON 1: Quite a field of CMS players in the nonprofit space

We found over 90 different content management systems being used by the nonprofits of our study. 52 of the tools found were only used to manage a single website while another 14 only managed 2 separate websites in our study. Whew.

Why is this important? Many nonprofits are using less-than-robust, white-labeled solutions received from a web design consultancy who likely went with the most cost-effective solution for the implementation. The result was that the 80 websites managed with these 66 tools were significantly more likely to have an outdated design, static content, and poorer overall user experience. Definitely not what I wanted to find.

LESSON 2: WordPress manages 42% of nonprofit sites

I knew that WordPress was used by 23% of the top 10 million websites but finding it behind over 300 of the nonprofits we studied was still impressive. As a free and open-source CMS with a vibrant user community, WordPress appeal is understandable for cash-strapped orgs who might still have a nascent online fundraising strategy.

LESSON 3: Top 5 tools running 62% of nonprofit sites

Table: Top 8 CMSes of Nonprofit WebsitesWordPress is followed by Drupal at 9%, Blackbaud at 4%, Joomla at 4%, and Adobe products at 4%. Collectively, these 5 providers manage 62% of the nonprofit websites studied.

SquareSpace, FinalSite, and ExpressionEngine each managed 2% of sites studied while the following each managed between 2% and 1%: SiteInfinity, MS Sharepoint, Concrete5, Craft, BusinessCatalyst, Kentico,  SiteCore, and Wix. At the bottom, almost 80 tools each managed 0.5% or less of the nonprofit websites we studied (see full list).

Another 13% of websites studied used a CMS which could not identify or updated their site manually with an HTML editor.

Interesting lessons, but we also captured an additional pearl in our study…

Bonus lesson: 21% of nonprofits now use Bootstrap

Twitter’s Bootstrap isn’t a content management system but an open-source responsive design framework for knocking out surprisingly sexy sites by anyone with HTML and CSS chops. Like me, many designers love it while some designers decry it’s making all websites look the same. Quite eye-opening to discover so many nonprofits adopting Bootstrap since it’s fairly recent 2011 release.

Where did we get the data for this study?

We analyzed 808 small and medium-sized nonprofits all using embedded donation forms by Blackbaud Online Express. Each website was examined individually using code analytics tools to determine the CMS employed. The list of organizations was pulled randomly and spanned various sections: 28% Education, 24% Public and Society Benefit, 23% Healthcare, 11% Foundations, 6% Arts & Culture, 5% Faith-based, and 2% Environmental and Animal Welfare.

And as always, I created an infographic for easy sharing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Granger curates @Design_for_Good and is a Senior Interaction Designer at Blackbaud for Luminate Online, Online Express, MobilePay, and other products. Brandon has been crafting user experiences for the web and mobile apps for nonprofits for 15+ years. He has a passion for user research, usability testing, high-fidelity prototyping, responsive design, mobile design, and web accessibility. Brandon graduated from the University of North Texas with an undergraduate degree in Film Studies. You can follow him at @bkgranger.

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