The Nonprofit Technology Ecosystem

The Nonprofit Technology Ecosystem

The online ecosystem is complex. Every component must seamlessly interact with each other in order to provide an effective, integrated experience for everyone. What components are we talking about? Everything from your nonprofit organization’s content management system (CMS), your constituent relationship management (CRM) system, your online marketing efforts, any additional microsites you’ve built and of course, your social media accounts.

Content Management System – CMS

Your nonprofit’s website is the big front door to your organization and the content management system is what powers the website. CMS is the software that helps you not only maintain the site but also allows you to create and publish up to date information immediately keeping you supporters up to date with your organization. Additional crucial elements that are managed through a CMS include your organization’s branding and navigation of the site. Some common examples of CMS systems include WordPress and Drupal.

Constituent Relationship Management System – CRM

Your constituent relationship management system is where your data is held. CRM is the software that tracks and records a variety of actions taken by individuals and groups – your constituents and supporters. This information can be stored in a single system or may be contained in a set of databases across an organization. When you have multiple databases, a CRM can be connected to other databases, allowing the systems to talk to each other giving the nonprofit a bigger picture. Gathering and using this data properly will assist your organization in developing deeper and more meaningful relationships with your constituents as it gives you a 360 degree view of your supporters. Examples of CRM systems for nonprofit organizations include Salesforce and The Raisers Edge.

Online Tools

These tools we are talking about are ones that support action. These can be tools that provide the functionality to send email, collect donations, sell tickets or other actions that support your organization. Nonprofits often rely on a variety of online engagement tools designed to meet their mission and supporter needs. When evaluating new engagement tools, it is important that you ensure they connect with your CRM or central database to collect useful data. While there are many of these tools ranging from email to event management some examples are Luminate Online, ExactTarget and NetCommunity.


Microsites are a great way for nonprofit organizations to promote specific events and campaigns. These sites are usually created to bolster online communities or are for specific special uses. Nonprofits that hold walks, runs or food drives can be well served by creating an online presence specifically designed to promote participation and give information about these events. Blogs are also frequently a microsite found within a nonprofit organizational ecosystem. Specific examples of this technology include Small World Labs & TeamRaiser.

Social Media

Social media platforms have become essential parts of the nonprofit communication toolkit. The global sharing of content, images and video has become easier with the introduction of social media. In the same way that email was added to tried-and-true direct mail programs, social media channels can make a significant contribution to your organization’s acquisition and conversion efforts. While there are many opportunities for you to jump in and use each site, we recommend you researching and testing each one to determine which will be best suited to help your organization further your mission. Popular examples include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

To better help you visualize the elements of a typical nonprofit technology environment, Firefly Partners and Heller Consulting created this infographic of the Nonprofit Technology Ecosystem:

For more information on the CMS options available for nonprofit organizations, download our whitepaper to learn about the features and benefits of, 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.

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