Nonprofits and NGOs in Drupal

Nonprofits and NGOs in Drupal

In the ever-changing technology industry, digital maintenance requires companies to expend non-trivial resources to keep their internet presence up-to-date and modern. Staying on top of trends is now the expectation of most Internet users. Nonprofits are no exception.

Nonprofits often struggle with procuring the funds to maintain a modern, responsive web presence. That said, using Drupal removes much of this burden. As an open-source technology, Drupal is not only free to use, but it also fits nicely with the philosophy of non-profits. Open-source dogma embraces benefiting the larger community and encouraging progress through contribution and cooperation.

Nonprofit Demand

Global ventures like Human Rights Watch draw from the international features of Drupal. Get Healthy Harlem is a local project that relies on Drupal’s ability to publish content and display it in a useful manner.

It is difficult to put an accurate estimate on the precise number of non-profit/NGO Drupal websites. Over 650 websites are listed on the drupalsites.net showcase as activist or nonprofit sites - comprising over 15% of the total showcase. Moreover, nonprofits are the fourth most numerous category on the drupal.org community showcase, only slightly below community, e-commerce, and education. It is likely many additional nonprofit websites exist that aren't formally listed.

Why They Choose Drupal

Drupal can be especially useful for non-profits, and it isn't simply because of the minimal costs.

These organizations do not want to worry that making changes to their website will be tiresome and time-consuming. Drupal makes site maintenance simple. Site performance can be monitored and site administrators don’t have to worry about back-end code health and security.

The long-term extensibility of the site is also an important consideration. It can be difficult for these organizations to constantly think about how and why they need to stay up-to-date. They also may not have the technical expertise to do so. Drupal, which is famed for its extensibility, takes care of these needs.

The Drupal community is also a draw for NGOs and non-profits. Many developers and companies are willing to help such organizations at highly discounted rates, and even offer up free support for unique challenges.

Beyond the Drupal community for technical support, the ability to build one's own unique community has its appeal. Between easy user registration and built-in blogs & forums, many organizations can create their own community and have it up and running quite fast. Cultivating an engaged community online is vital to most activist causes. A significant part of a non-profit's core missions involves motivating constituents to be more active - both in the real world and in the digital sphere; a complementary website that reinforces such goals can be instrumental in the success of a campaign.

These organizations also usually publish content regularly, whether it be in the form of articles, reports, or other media. In addition, their supporters are often encouraged to upload pictures, text, or videos. Drupal helps organizations create, update, manage, and share this content effectively.

Any group that hopes to have a lot of members needs a good way to manage contact information. Including Constituent Relation Management (CRM) system integration in Drupal is a critical reason why NGOs are able to create successful Drupal websites that meet their organizations’ requirements.

Drupal Commerce is another beneficial component that helps to meet the needs of these groups. Many nonprofits have monthly pledges or memberships that need to be renewed. They also likely require donation systems. Implementing e-commerce solutions will increase the amount of money the organization can raise online.

Drupal’s internationalization is a final key component. The ability to build one site that houses many languages is necessary for larger organizations that work globally. Multilingual sites attract a wider base of donors and supporters; and also inform a larger audience about the group's specific causes.

Nonprofit-specific Distributions

Since so many organizations use Drupal, a number of tools have been developed specifically for non-profits. These tools, and the nonprofit demand for Drupal sites, have promoted the creation of a number of non-profit-specific distributions.

Jackson River’s Springboard is a modern Drupal distribution that allows its users to easily set up a donation system and create petitions. With pre-designed donation templates, Springboard makes online fundraising faster and more effective for organizations. The developers also include the capability to create campaign mini-sites. For each campaign, the non-profit could create an individual sub-site for information and fundraising.

Springboard is not alone in supporting the nonprofit community. A number of other distributions exist, such as Open Outreach and Open Aid. Distributions offer quick-launch capabilities with built-in features like WYSIWYG editing, SEO support, maps, event organizing, forums, and donations. These custom-tailored installations show the strength of Drupal for non-profits.

Nonprofit Drupal Development

The Computer Professionals’ Union is a nonprofit NGO that works in the Philippines and offers IT capabilities to the Filipino people. They use Drupal to create websites for the groups and networks they sponsor; which number up to 43 websites, 33 of which they have created. This group is a prime example of how Drupal can bring quality technical sites and service to low technology environments.

By using the Views Slideshow, jCarousel, Gallery Formatter, Panels and Mini panels,WYSIWYG, and Nice Menus modules, among others, they create sites relatively easily. Other modules that nonprofits find extremely useful include Internationalization, GMap, and CCK.

Drupal nonprofit developers also use CiviCRM, which is a free, open-source CRM. Used by over 5,000 organizations, it is easily implemented in Drupal. The services it offers to nonprofits are invaluable. A few of its features include keeping donors, members, and other contact records organized, event and campaign management, and fundraising tools. With integration into Views, users can fully customize lists and organize data however they wish. CiviCRM also offers additional add-ons that users can include, extending their capabilities to include grant management, mass emails, and membership management.

How They Have Used Drupal

Mercy Corps is one of the largest humanitarian groups in the world and aids in many international crises. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Mercy Corps funded a project where they used Drupal to allow people to create their own fundraising pages. Each one was its own mini campaign site and they were able to raise over $500,000 in a single week alone. This effort shows a nonprofit taking advantage of multiple aspects of Drupal - e-commerce, content creation, and an influx of new users.

Human Rights Watch is an organization that seeks to protect the freedom and rights of people across the world, challenging governments to stop abuses and follow international law. Through a single instance of Drupal, they reach an international population that speaks 8 different languages. They also feature comprehensive content management among publications, news, and video media.

Greenpeace is an environmentally-oriented organization. Their use of Drupal on their UK siteis a testament to its flexibility. Greenpeace UK has an extensive blog; but more impressive is their vibrant community. They encourage people to get involved online and in their local communities. The website features petitions to sign as well as a “Get Active” section, which provides a map of groups near user's zip code. These groups regularly receive directives from Greenpeace to participate in events. Users may also view group photos, events, or blog posts in their area using this tool. Greenpeace’s site offers a great case study in how Drupal can foster and maintain an active community.

Drupal Nonprofit Significance

The scope of the problems that nonprofits tackle are huge – education, hunger, natural disaster aid, clean energy and environmental preservation, to name a few. In the past, corporations and for-profit firms have had a significant advantage in the world of digital marketing. Drupal is helping to change this advantage and level the playing field. Non-profits from various sectors and industries have realized Drupal’s power, depth, and extensibility.

The bottom line is that Drupal is a powerful and inexpensive tool readily available to those bettering the world.