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Here’s the data on 1,400 UK charities’ CMS use

By Richard Edwards, 18 Nov 2019

It’s a question often considered by senior execs in the charity world: which Content Management System (CMS) should we use for our website?

For the digital teams that sit beneath them – who are perhaps pressing these same execs for a CMS change – there tends to be more awareness of the differing platforms and the pros and cons of each. Especially when it comes to open source leaders like WordPress and Drupal.

Recommending a Content Management System

But how to convince senior execs to go forward with your CMS recommendation and steer them away from a locked-in provider?

Obviously we can use the truism that open source platforms like WordPress power 35% of the world’s websites.

But what do we say when the senior execs ask: “ah yes, that may be true but what about with mission critical sites like ours, that help us secure millions in income, or directly process thousands of people’s donations every year?

“Do they still run WordPress, hmm?”

Looking at the big charity websites

Before I came to Outlandish I spent a good few years as the Digital Manager of a large NGO, and responding to these types of questions was something I too had to deal with.

So, recently finding some time on my hands, I decided to set out to help my old digital peers by giving more evidence to digital teams about the landscape of charities’ CMS use.

Obviously every charity and every organisation’s needs are different. And I don’t want to knock the likes of Squarespace and other paid-for platforms – in most cases they do the job the charity needs of them very well.

Nor did I want to do a breakdown of every CMS’s features and the pros & cons of each (if you’re interested in this, a bit of google-fu will quickly turn up lots of ‘what CMS’ guides).

Instead I wanted to provide evidence that digital teams can use when making CMS decisions and presenting their case to senior level staff.

So here goes.

Data on 1400 charities’ CMS

Using the excellent CharityBase search engine, I got data on the biggest UK charities, ranked by income last year. From the top placed British Council (£1,170,000,000 income last year), down to the smaller St Neots Prep school (£4,000,000).

Programmatically detecting their website CMS (where it was available) drew up a shortlist of 1,400 charities and CMS’s.

And taking a look at the data shows that:

  • Over 50% of the top UK charities use WordPress as their main CMS
  • At the very top end of the scale, being charities with an income of £10m+, WordPress is still powering a massive 41% of their main websites.

Plus there are some surprises!

  • the £14m+ income organisation doing quite well with Wix, thank you very much;
  • the £505m+ educational institution running off Squiz!
  • the 59 different CMS in play! And the huge number of CMS I’d never heard of (Bolt, Plone, Ektron, to name a few)

So where is your CMS in this list?

Feel free to hover over the charts and see where your CMS is. But beware! If it’s quite a small and bespoke CMS, you might not find it listed below.

Charities with income £4m -> £10m

[The charts don’t work on mobile, so get a PDF here

Charities with income £10m+

[The charts don’t work on mobile, so get a PDF here]

Is an open source CMS right for you?

It goes without saying that here at Outlandish we love building CMS projects, and we specialise in WordPress (amongst other tech frameworks like VueJS, React, Laravel and more). Plus we’re always happy to meet people to chat about their business objectives and how they can be delivered via different technologies.

If you’d like to talk about a project or whether an open source CMS like WordPress would be a good fit for you, pop into our office (we do a good lunch), pick up the phone or send us a mail any time!