Nonprofit online community software providers
During research for client engagements, we’ve discovered a few products from online community software providers we feel are powerful examples of the category, because they possess all or most of a core set of features. These products are:
Taking a look at those three competitive solution options will give you a great sense of what this category has to offer. Ning deserves an honorable mention as an option that has a lot of feature overlap with the solutions listed above.
A previous version of the above list included mention of solutions like Jive and Yammer—but those fit more properly into the enterprise social network solution category. These are good products to consider for nonprofits with a need to build a community of professionals, such as chapter-based organizations that want to network all of their chapter leaders together. And there are a wide variety of broadly configurable portal solutions for engaging with partners, members, and customers of different types, such as Magentrix.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. In all, we’ve looked at over 20 different systems, including both standalone products (such as those mentioned above) and platform-based products on as Salesforce, Dynamics 365, and Office 365.
When you start looking at the products we’ve listed, you’ll note that they are all standalone products (though they may have integrations with other systems). In general, we find that our clients work harder—and generally sacrifice some features—to achieve similar results with platform-based solutions. If there are strategic reasons to go with a platform-based option, it still is worth reviewing the standalone solutions to create a point of comparison.
Other software categories that have community features
There are many software categories that provide some level of ability to create a community. For each of the below categories, we provide two examples to help you develop a mental picture of what the category includes (assuming some familiarity one or both examples).
- Social media sites. Facebook and LinkedIn
- Learning management systems. TOPYX and Moodle
- Project management systems. Teamwork and Basecamp
- Constituent relationship management systems. Salesforce and the Raiser’s Edge
This is not an exhaustive list, but it does give you a broad sense of how your organization may already have software in other categories that provides overlapping functionality to online community software. However, in general, systems within these categories don’t have as broad a set of community management capabilities as those solutions mentioned near the top of this post.
How to decide what software is right for your organization.
After you’ve taken a look at the available options, you’ll want to conduct your software selection in a way that offers the best opportunity for success. See how to choose the right online community for your needs.
Jumping in at the middle? See the introductory post for this series: “Driving Nonprofit Impact Through Online Communities”