Idealware recently released an update to their “A Consumers Guide to Low Cost Nonprofit Content Management Systems,” which you can download for free here.
It’s a valuable resource for small and mid-sized organizations that are considering options for their CMS solution (for website content management). In addition to the detailed review of 11 systems — including both proprietary and open source — the report provides some helpful overview for approaching the CMS evaluation process in general, as well as some recommendations for making your selection process more focused and effective.
It’s a large report — 100+ pages! — so you can be assured that it is not light on the details. It includes a summary comparison matrix for a quick reference, detailed product reviews, plus a directory of consultants that can help nonprofits select and/or implement solutions.
Looking at the comparison matrix at the front of the report (p. 20), I was struck by a few things:
- All (of the 11) systems scored “excellent” when it comes to Graphical Flexibility
- All systems scored at least “good” when it comes to Search Engine Optimization
- All systems scored at least “good” when ti comes to Support and Community Strength
- Only two systems scored “excellent” when it comes to Integration with Constituent Data
- Most mixed results (some doing this “none” and a few doing this as “excellent”) was in the area of Extending Beyond Existing Functionality
This gives me the impression that there are some factors nonprofits can pay less attention to in their comparison work when choosing a system (because it’s likely any system they choose will do this well), while there are some other factors where nonprofits will find pronounced variation in between options. Therefore, it’s important for organizations to invest careful consideration — and use the tips at the front of the report! — at the start of the selection process to identify organizational priorities and come up with a criteria list that focuses on areas that might represent the clearest choices.
This investment of time up-front could make the selection process much more effective, and help keep you from getting distracted by looking at features that any solution is likely to deliver for you.