Factors to Consider When Selecting a CMS

The Nonprofit Technology Ecosystem

All CMS solutions do pretty much the same thing, right?

Kind of. There are literally hundreds of Content Management Systems on the market, so how will your organization decide which one is best for you? We’ve discovered that functionality is not necessarily the primary consideration (or even one of the top five factors) for most of our clients. The CMS landscape is a competitive marketplace with all products meeting certain basic functionality requirements. This allows other factors to move into the forefront.

Specific Factors to Consider


If you’re looking at free to low-cost CMS products you’ll likely be doing the legwork yourself, which is not free, but is a different type of investment. Keep in mind what will make the most difference in development costs is the complexity of the site and the design requirements.


After implementation your organization will need to manage your system on your own, or be ready to pay for support. If this does not sounds like a good fit with your organization’s culture and existing business practices, perhaps a managed application will be right for you.

Tolerance for Risk

How important is being cutting edge to your organization? Does your organization embrace emerging technology and strategies? Or do you prefer market-tested products and strategies? Answering these questions will help guide your CMS selection.


How flexible are you with your specifications? Being comfortable with giving a little bit on the requirements to gain the most out of the available functionality can be a smart move.

Previous Experience

Your experience, either positive or negative, with vendors and products is frequently a factor among decision-makers in a selection project. Survey your peers and get input up front and be ready to address it when it begins to impact the selection process.

For more information on the CMS options available for nonprofit organizations, download our whitepaper to learn about the features and benefits of Site.com, PageBuilder, Blackbaud’s Luminate CMS, Webpage Manager, Drupal, and WordPress, including additional information on emerging open-source installations.

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Monika McMahon

About Monika McMahon

Monika joined Heller Consulting after spending 8 years in the Boulder technology startup scene. She is an expert in Social and Digital marketing, adopting and implementing new (and old) platforms for organizations ranging from ecommerce, SaaS, and nonprofits. Monika not only understands how these platforms work but how to use them to meet business objectives. When she is not educating and sharing her online talents, she can be found enjoying the music scene in Denver.


  1. Susan Kenna Wright

    I totally agree with the point about talking with peers about what they use and how they like it. Personal testimony is priceless.

  2. I would add that it is really important to consider whether we are talking Open Source or Proprietary. There are some great discussions on the pros/cons of each approach.

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