What content management systems are charities using in 2022?

Is WordPress the right choice for a charity CMS?

This is a question we asked ourselves when planning our strategy for 2022. Should we be offering WordPress for our charity client’s websites, or is there another, more popular charity CMS being used. We asked Chris, our Technical Director, but he didn’t know the answer so he decided to find out. While there are loads of stats out there for market share of content management systems, there was nothing he could find that was charity-specific. Loving a techie challenge, he set out in search of the answers.

We used CharityBase to grab a database of all the registered charities in the UK. This helpfully contains their website address, though it’s not guaranteed to be accurate as we soon found out. Of the 166k charities in the database, our script managed to determine the CMS of 54,832 of them. Of the remaining, 8,971 of the websites listed were down, or not available at that time and 18,441 could not be detected. So not 100% conclusive, but plenty of data to get an idea of the current trends.

Enterprise or Open Source?

We had expected the biggest charities to all be using enterprise systems, but 7 of the 10 largest charities are using Open Source platforms, in this case WordPress and Drupal. As big believers in Open Source it’s great to see these projects flourishing.

Not surprisingly perhaps as the most popular CMS in use today, WordPress is powering 59% of the sites we crawled. It just goes to show how far WordPress has come, from a simple blogging platform in its early days to something capable of handling huge traffic loads and complex functionality. It’s great vindication for our strategy to make it our development system of choice and long may it continue to thrive and develop!

So, how does the data stack up?

Here’s an overall top 10 of the systems in use by charities today

Using the Charity Commission’s definitions, we decided to group charities by the same criteria they use:

And because who doesn’t love a data visualisation, we’ve created this chart which you can filter by income band.

Micro to medium-sized charity websites

This shows a similar spread of CMSs in use, not really surprising as these take up around 94% of the data. WordPress a clear favourite with the same 59% share, and lots of free and cheap-to-own website builders on there from the likes of Wix, Squarespace and Weebly.

Content mangement systems used by large charities

With the income filters set to £1m to £10m we start to see a change in the stats. WordPress actually has a larger share at 64% but with Drupal and Umbraco coming next with 8% and 4% respectively. This is what we were expecting to see as the larger charities seem to be reassured by enterprise-level systems of all shapes and sizes.

Content mangement systems used by major charities

Now we’re getting to the big players in the charity sector with over £10m and under £100m income (the likes of RNIB and the BFI). Again, WordPress has the majority share and the site-builder platforms are pushed down the list, but surprisingly there are seven of these sites running on Squarespace!

Content mangement systems used by super-major charities

Last but by no means least are the super-major charities – those with income over £100m. The dataset is obviously much smaller and we weren’t surprised to see Drupal topping the table, but WordPress still powers 20% of these sites.

So, what have we learned?

The data doesn’t lie – WordPress is by far the most widely used CMS by charities in the UK, and not just those with smaller incomes. It has come such a long way in the last few years that it has become a solid choice for websites of any size and complexity. We couple the flexibility and low cost of ownership with a modern approach to web development and a solid hosting and maintenance structure and believe that it can challenge the most complex enterprise level systems.

There’s certainly a place for the likes of Drupal, Umbraco et al, but these come at a premium in terms of development, support and maintenance, so we’d advise any charity to think carefully about where their digital budgets are invested before making a decision.


Need some CMS advice? Talk to Chris!