Open Source vs. Proprietary Content Management Systems in Nonprofits

This report from CivicActions shows the use of various content management systems in foundations. 20% of the top 885 foundation sites surveyed use open source CMSs:

  • Drupal (64/7.23%)
  • Wordpress (60/6.78%
  • Joomla (35/3.5%
  • Plone, Typo3 and Xoops combined (11/1/24%)

The bulk of the foundations use proprietary CMSs:

  • Dreamweaver (93/10.51%)
  • Other (407/45.99%)

The numbers in the for-profit world are likely similar but probably skewed a bit more to proprietary CMSs (including custom-written systems included in "Other"). Chances are that this includes early adopters of the concept of CMSs: it's the early adopters of any concept like this that often wind up with idiosyncratic hand-crafted systems because there was not choice at the time they moved to the new technology. Then begins the familiar pattern; do we toss out that massive investment and pay for conversion to something else or do we kick the can down the road?

The choice is easier for late-comers to the party: organizations just dipping a toe into the CMS world can look at the cost/benefits for free and open sources CMSs, and the choice is often a no-brainer.

The drag of the installed base (such as the proprietary CMSs in this case) remains a challenge in the IT world.