Comparing Open Source CMS Products with Convio CMS

Open source software is distributed under a licensing agreement that allows the source code to be shared, viewed and modified by other users and organizations. Open source CMS software, Drupal in particular, has gained a higher profile in recent years and has been adopted by the nonprofit community with varying results. On the surface, the big difference is perceived to be cost. Since open source software is free, organizations with limited resources are often attracted to this model. However, total cost of ownership (TCO) of open source software is often as high, and sometimes higher, than commercial software like Convio CMS.

The table below summarizes some of the issues to consider when making a decision between an open source CMS or Convio CMS.


Open Source

Convio CMS


Software licenses are free. However, TCO can equal that of proprietary systems. There are many hidden costs relating to:

  • Lack of predictable release cycles
  • Opportunity cost incurred dealing with support and service issues (e.g. backward compatibility)
  • Deployment
  • Charges for add-ons, additional services and integration

Pricing is under the Software-as-a-Service model, whereby a monthly fee is paid to access the software via a web browser.

Service and Support

Relies on online community support via forums and blogs. No guarantee of timely or responsive service.

  • Convio CMS is fully maintained, supported, and hosted (including backup and recovery)
  • Professional support team available 12 hours/day
  • Customer-only resource center offers software update information, training schedules, answers to frequently asked questions and best practices tips.
  • Online community provides answers to quick questions and a forum for sharing ideas with other clients

Software can be modified and extended by users. However:

  • Innovations are not necessarily shared
  • Active participation in communities is required to be aware of innovations
  • Custom changes to software may limit ability to apply future updates or fixes
  • Very little large-scale R&D

Convio CMS is upgraded with new enhancements and features every month. Major new innovations include:

  • Form Builder integrated with CRM database
  • Enhancements to user-generated content functionality

Often, relatively poor usability:

  • Developer-centric – requires programming skills to use effectively
  • Documentation not required, and when available, often of poor quality
  • Custom changes to software may limit ability to apply future updates or fixes
  • Developer reliance on abandoned code, which can lead to broken functionality
  • Create professional-looking content using templated forms
  • Organize files using familiar explorer-based user interface
  • Impose styles by using a simple HTML editor
  • Embed streaming media and flash files on web pages

Software not developed in a controlled environment:

  • Lack of coordination among developers can facilitate creation of security breaches
  • Very little peer review or validation
  • Frequent problems with malicious code being inserted

Convio is, and always has been, the market leader in information security among vendors to the nonprofit sector.

  • Convio continually evaluates plans for feature enhancements and new products for their potential impact on information security and constituent privacy.
  • For more detail, see our white paper: Convio Information Security Practices
Integration with CRM

While Convio is working within the Open Source community to improve the level of integration with Open Source CMS using the Convio API, there is no integration with CRM systems like Convio Online Marketing as part of core products, and integration often requires installing plug-ins or developing custom code.

Convio CMS offers very strong integration with Convio Online Marketing, including:

  • Single sign-on
  • Personalization
  • Source code tracking
  • Conditional content
  • Support for multi-affiliate organizations

Convio CMS is the nonprofit leader

Convio CMS is a full-featured content management system built specifically for nonprofit organizations with advanced website needs, and multiple content contributors. For this reason, it powers the most visited and sophisticated nonprofit websites in the country.

We encourage you to take a close look at Convio CMS when considering your organization’s content management requirements. However, if after you’ve evaluated Convio CMS and concluded open source is a better fit for your organization, we have made it as easy as possible to integrate open source CMS with the Convio Online Marketing platform.

Using Open Source on the Convio Platform

The Convio Online Marketing platform provides support to open source CMS technologies in the following ways.

  • Every Convio client has access to Convio Open APIs, at no additional maintenance or professional service charge
  • Convio Open has great documentation and offers over 100 REST or SOAP style APIs for extending the Convio Online Marketing platform
  • Convio Open APIs enable you to develop open source CMS websites that can:
    • Authenticate constituents
    • Personalize content based on constituent attributes
    • Restrict or conditionalize content based on constituent segments
    • Track and log in Convio the origin, or source, of web site traffic
    • Build custom constituent engagement experiences and process responses in Convio
  • Convio is engaged with developers the Open Source community helping to drive innovation for all nonprofit organizations and has contributed code to the Drupal community
  • Convio partners are experienced in deploying integrated open source CMS web sites for Convio clients
Comparing Open Source CMS Products with Convio CMS | Convio