Non-Profits, Drupal and Convio

Someone asked me about our involvement with non-profits and Drupal's suitability compared to Convio recently. Here are some thoughts I shared with him and thought might be interesting to a wider audience.

More than 50% of our projects are with non-profits and it has been extremely rewarding. Almost all of them include Drupal. In general, we end up with non-profits that are a bit more established in scale. They are good partners that understand the value we deliver to their projects.

We also adopt one non-profit each year that we donate services to for an entire year. This year it's hannahgrimes.org. The last one was Cedarcrest (cedarcrestforkids.org) here in Keene, NH.

Not too long ago, I did a full evaluation of Convio vs. GetActive (another web-based, non-profit communication platform that was subsequently absorbed by Convio). From my perspective, their greatest value is not necessarily the software they provide. It's the organizational best practices they offer in helping non-profits leverage their tools. My opinion is that the tools within Drupal are an order of magnitude more flexible and scalable. There are two things that make Drupal by itself not as strong as a package as Convio:

  1. Out-of-the-box, Drupal lacks a pre-packaged set of features that are specifically integrated for a non-profit's core needs. It has better than 4400 modules which is like have a 4400+ auto parts lying around and a frame waiting to have the "right" ones applied.
  2. Many non-profits lack best practices knowledge and, perhaps organizational capacity, to realize the promise of tools like Convio and Drupal that help them to more fully engage their constituencies in their good work. They don't know where to start.

Convio has the benefit of a company that specializes in helping non-profits use its tools. Drupal has organizations like Lucidus (and many others). What I'm ultimately saying is that the tool is just a tool; our job is to help our clients leverage that tool to greatest effect to achieve their mission.

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