Monday, November 26, 2007

Non-Profit websites

About 6 months ago, I was looking for alternatives to a poorly designed and rather unmaintainable shtml web site for a non-profit I am deeply involved with. Seattle Youth Garden Works has an annual operating budget of about $450,000, and after a restructuring, I volunteered to maintain the web site.

The CMS.

I decided on Drupal after evaluating a few Open Source and proprietary content management systems. Joomla was a close second, and I chose Drupal because

  1. Already established in the non-profit world.
  2. Had plugins that I needed.
  3. Other research regarding future support etc.(IBM, forums)
  4. The ability to add blogs, forums etc if necessary.

If you are looking for alternatives, Joomla, Magnolia or DotnetNuke are all good CMS choices depending on your comfort or choice of application stack.

The host.

Dreamhost, a widely popular hosting service is large enough to have professional support available 24x7, and has a user community that helps you solve most problems before going to technical support.

They provide free hosting for non-profits - which is an absolutely sweet deal, and they are carbon-neutral - which many of our donors like.

They also support PHP/MySQL and provide root access for their non-profit account - a very useful feature. My only gripe is that MySql queries on Dreamhost are rather slow.

The Modules

I recommend using Drupal 5.0 because most commonly used modules exist for this version. I used a number of modules including Event, Volunteer Timeslots and FCKEditor to enable employees to make changes to the website directly without having to request a webmaster. Contact me if you are looking for a list of modules to install along with a Drupal installation for your non-profit.

The Result

Check out the website to see what it looks like.

The Next Steps

It would be a useful feature to have donors commit to and donate online. Although CiviCRM integrates well with Drupal, changing donor management software is disruptive and may adversely affect fundraising activity. Enabling social networking feature for volunteer management would also be a cool feature, and would ensure a more engaged group of volunteers.

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