Donations to your website. Volunteers learning about your cause and contributing their expertise. Supporters and corporate partners interacting with your cause.
These actions rest on a great content management system for your nonprofit. Whatever the action may be, your website is an important part of not just amplifying what you do as a nonprofit, but also a big component of your overall assets.
Which is why it’s imperative to have a content management system that meets the needs of your donors and volunteers and helps you amplify your reach. But not every CMS is the same. Thankfully, in this post, we’ll take you through the most important features you should consider when choosing a CMS for your nonprofit website.
What is a CMS (Content Management System)
A content management system is a tool or software that enables you to build, operate, and configure your website without using code.
The CMS helps you store images, create web pages, and run other activities without you having to build everything from scratch with code.
Factors to consider when choosing a CMS
As a nonprofit, you don’t just jump into using a CMS just because their marketing says it’s good. Here’s what to look for before you make a final decision.
The type of platform – SaaS or hosted
SaaS is the short form of “Software as a Service”, which is generally a model where software is licensed for use on the basis of subscription and centrally hosted. And you’ve probably been using many SaaS products, such as Dropbox, Slack, or MailChimp.
A SaaS CMS has similar features to these SaaS products listed above. And they have their systems maintained by a third party and integrated with the server and usually host the content and everything. This means with a subscription, you get to have features such as managing your content, installing features, making updates. It also offers you maintenance and keeps your data. Examples of SaaS CMSs include Wix, Squarespace, etc.
A hosted CMS offers great customization, and you’re to download and install it on a server, either off-premise or on-premises. They also require that whoever is using them as a CMS has some level of technical skills because setting up, installing, and maintaining the system requires technical know-how. They also usually do not come with a subscription, and can either be proprietary or open-source. Examples include WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla among others.
Cost of the CMS
As a nonprofit, your finances should be weighed whenever you’re making a decision to acquire or subscribe to something – and that goes for your CMS.
For a nonprofit just starting out, you should look for a cheap but powerful CMS to go with. If you don’t have technical skills, it’s advisable to go for SaaS CMSs such as Wix or Squarespace. Their drag and drop website editing features will help you get started in no time.
If you have the technical skills, you can go with an open-source, free tool like WordPress.org. But remember that the time involved in using these platforms and probably the technical skills needed may translate into higher costs if not well planned.
Search engine optimization features
One of the most important roles of your nonprofit website is to serve as a tool to amplify your course, reach out to donors and volunteers, and get every potential partner involved. The CMS has to have the most important features needed to achieve these tasks.
This means your CMS should help you practice search engines optimization principles such as meta keywords, custom meta descriptions, customized URLs, and more.
Ease of use
Whenever you’re selecting a nonprofit CMS, ensure that the platform is easy to use. This helps you make changes such as optimizing for search engines and updating content without needing a web developer.
Many CMS you come across would have some form of customizability. These CMSs also usually come with a lot of templates. This means you should go for a CMS that allows you to make a lot of editing or customizations even if you’re going with a template.
This helps ensure that your nonprofit website doesn’t just look like other hundred websites using the same template. It also helps you customize your website to reflect your visions and impacts as an organization.
Features such as the ability to create a responsive website for mobile and desktop, drag-and-drop features, and simple image editing tools, and more.
Blogging tools should be a basic feature
Blogging isn’t dead, and it’s still one of the best ways to reach out to your donors and volunteers. When selecting a CMS, you need one with powerful blogging tools.
Your CMS should give you the features to draft and publish highly engaging blog posts with features such as post reviews, sharing posts with editors for comments, scheduling blog posts, and a great blog editor.
Integrations and ad-ons
Your CMS of choice should also have room for integrations with ad-ons and other third-party tools. This will help you not just build a digital presence, but be able to market and share your organization online.
You should be able to integrate your CMS with social media marketing tools, form builders, donation buttons, data analysis tools like Google Analytics, Maps, member directories, event calendars and planners, and online fundraising tools.