CMS Guide for Nonprofit Organizations

CMS Platforms: A Guide for Nonprofits

Technology is always advancing. Sometimes we can keep pace, often it races ahead of us. Constituents and donors are increasingly savvy and have higher expectations of the organizations they choose to support. Mobile devices provide access to unlimited information 24/7. Your organization’s Content Management System (CMS) is likely your front door for a potential supporter.

Every bit and byte of your online ecosystem needs to be mobile friendly, user friendly, fast, relevant, and geared toward conversion. And ideally the data you collect ties right back into your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system – allowing you to provide the kind of customized constituent experience that creates long-term loyalty and value for your organization.

More than ever before, this kind of experience is possible for organizations of all sizes and missions. Modern nonprofit leaders understand that their website is not an afterthought – it can be used as a powerful tool to meet strategic business goals.

While tools and technology may be more flexible and robust than ever – you need to be sure that you are selecting the best CMS for your nonprofit organization. The online ecosystem is a delicate one, with many integrated and moving pieces. Below is a snapshot from our CMS paper of the nonprofit online ecosystem, complete with descriptions and examples:

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The Connected Cause is a place for experts in the nonprofit online space to share perspective, offer guidance and promote best practices for using today’s technology effectively. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive source of collaborative thought leadership for the nonprofit industry.


  1. This was such an interesting project for Firefly to work on! Everyone has their own opinions about the CMS landscape, and we each learned some new stuff along the way. Collaboration rules!

    The biggest lesson learned for me is captured by both the infographic and Keith’s comment above. Interactions happen within a CMS, and the integration points between your various systems are really, really important to consider as you evaluate current and future CMS products.

  2. The whitepaper gives great guidance on starting the path towards determining an approach, and defining some of the options. Heller and Firefly Partners are great sources of expert info and guidance – Orgs should also reach out amongst their community to learn more from their peers on real world experiences.

  3. Keith Heller

    Bryan, I’m biased (surprise) but I’d want to know how my CMS/website is going to interact with my CRM. In the course of visiting our website, visitors are going to provide valuable information about what’s important to them. Having that data in our CRM is going to help me cultivate the most appropriate relationship with those constituents. The information can come in multiple forms – visitors may fill out a form, subscribe to an email list or take a survey. I want this info in my CRM and it’s pretty do-able. There’s other less obvious information they supply – they may Like a page via Facebook, click the Tweet or Google+ button, etc. When they share our content, that’s valuable for me to know (that they did, and what they shared). Finally, even what pages they visit and how long they stay can be useful. Of course, not all this information is easily available or smoothly integrated today, but with the pace of how CMS and CRM tools are evolving (and overlapping) such goals should definitely be part of our strategic planning, and what we ask of our CMS – and consultant!

    • The amount of information available for import into a CRM can be overwhelming!

      However, if you build your CRM (or hire someone to build/update/integrate your CRM) in way that makes this information easily available to your organization, then this data becomes very valuable as you continue to build deeper and more meaningful relationships with your constituents.

  4. I really like the part about what to ask a CMS consultant. It can be difficult to tell if they are helping you select the right solution, or if they are offering you the one they know the best.

    What other questions would you ask a consultant when talking about a new CMS?

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