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Nonprofit Tech, Tools and Social Media

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Using Closed vs. Open Web Site Tools as a Nonprofit

Recently, we had a conversation with an organization who was getting pressure to use a closed tool called Jimdo rather than the open-source tool, WordPress for their web site. Jimdo seemed easier and quicker and they wanted to know what we thought about it. Here’s a couple points that we brought up with them:

  • Using solutions like Jimdo, they basically control your destiny:
    • Your data is on their servers, meaning they “host” your web site.
    • Your online identity routes through their domain name, meaning your domain will be something like unless you pay for JimdoPro or a Business plan which still leaves your data in their control
    • You can only use the features they choose and extend the platform in ways they enable.
  • Using a solution like WordPress, you have more control of your data (your actual asset)
    • WordPress is freely installable on your own server or any host you choose, meaning that you can choose where your data (web site) lives.
    • You can route your online identity through any domain registrar you choose, meaning you can choose with whom you register your domain (
    • Because WordPress is open source, it is being improved by a large network of contributors, meaning anyone can take WordPress, improve it, add onto it, create themes, plugins, additional functionality, resources, etc.

    The gains in ease of use have been dramatic over the past few years, and we believe that they will continue.

  • is a solid and simple alternative to Jimdo. I’m sure it is not as plug-and-play, but I liken it to eating well. Jimdo is fast food, tasty and easy now, but not healthy in the long run. WordPress is healthy food – less sexy, and more attention and work to use/consume, but much healthier and beneficial in the long term.

In short, we recommend things like WordPress because we recommend modeling for success and long-term sustainability.

While solutions like Jimdo (and there are many) enable short-term success through ease-of-use and good features, they are not suitable vehicles for long-term publishing strategies. They are technological cul-de-sac’s that we actively encourage people not to drive down, unless you don’t mind abandoning your vehicle parked there at the end.

Remember BEFORE committing to ANY technology or tool, it is critical to examine what the “divorce strategy” would be for that particular tool. In other words, if it turns out that the tool is horrible after you’ve already input data and invested time, how will you get your data out? What options are available so that you retain control of your data?

What do you see as the value in using open source tools rather than closed tools?

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