by Elliot Christenson on June 28, 2017 - 4:47pm

If you're a non-profit volunteer, board member, director, or staff, should you be afraid of using Drupal for your website needs?

There's been a lot of doom and gloom in the Drupal Community with Drupal 8 being more complex than ever! Other "content management systems" (a.k.a. CMS's) have long claimed that "Drupal is hard", "Drupal is expensive".

Is Drupal hard? Is Drupal 8 even "harder"? Is it "too expensive" for your non-profit?

Does Drupal suck at non-profits?

In this article, I take a deep dive, looking at what non-profits need from a website and how well Drupal can provide for those needs.

Read on to see what I think, and PLEASE, share your thoughts in the comments below!

Note: we posted a follow-up with an idea for a solution to this problem at Drupal 8 has left small non-profits behind... How can we fix that?

So... Does it suck!?

Well, the answer is: "it depends". :-)

There are numerous trade-offs to consider in all cases, some of which we'll consider here.

But first I'd like to outline what I view as the most common needs for non-profits of all shapes and sizes...

Fundraising

Just as for-profit businesses need to make top-line sales to stay in business, non-profits need to raise funds to pay for staff and other expenses to accomplish their mission! As much if not most fundraising has moved online, it's important to help handle this on your website!

Volunteer Coordination

The lifeblood of many non-profits is volunteers. This enthusiastic workforce is begging to make a difference in the world, their communities and specific needs! Coordinating and utilizing volunteer skills and efforts is critical for most non-profits. Moving this coordination effort online makes sense!

Events

As I stated in a previous article, events of various types are super-important to communicate via your non-profit website. Board meetings, fundraising events, volunteer appreciation events, even sharing community events is part of the core mission of many non-profits.

News/Blog/Updates

Different organizations call them different names but updates are critical to share. While updates may be shared on Facebook, Twitter and e-mail as well as on your website, they do need to be found on your website, and in many cases should be the canonical source for the information to avoid duplication of efforts. Basically, having news updates on your website is the most efficient way to get the word out!

Location/Mapping Information

Whether it is simply your small, local office or the locations of various worldwide resources, all non-profits have some need for location information to be found on the website.

Contact Information

This one is obvious to almost anyone, but it's very important to make it easy for donors, and volunteers to contact you - but also other interested parties. You're here to change the world, so it's important to let the world in!

How Drupal Does?

Below are a handful of websites running on various flavors of Drupal, and I'll briefly cover how they handle these needs. Both visibly and publicly on the website but also how it is likely handled in a "Drupal Way" behind the scenes.

American Red CrossAmerican Red Cross
http://www.redcrossblood.org
Currently Running Drupal 7

Fundraising: http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood
While not financial, the Red Cross uniquely deals in blood. They make it simple to find out more about this. It's in their top Menu navigation. From here, you can schedule a Donation Appointment and find locations. There is a Search field on the page which could use Drupal native search or something like Apache SOLR to provide more flexibility.

Volunteer Coordination: http://www.redcrossblood.org/volunteer
Again, it's very straightforward. In the top navigation Menu, the Red Cross has a link to Volunteer. Also of note: it's a very simple URL. Drupal makes it easy via a module or two (or in core in Drupal 8) to have simple URL's like this. Also, they make it quick and easy to get on your way to quickly find ways to volunteer in your area of interest.

Events: various
Here, they decided to be a little more complex - due mostly to their size - and they don't have a common all-inclusive calendar. To find blood drive and other events, you search via ZIP code first. Drupal, of course, lets you easily associate different events with ZIP codes via taxonomy or "entity references" for quick accessibility via search or other Views.

News/Blog/Updates: various
Similar as above, media releases are handled more at the local level, however the local sites are kept neatly organized in "/news/" URL's (e.g. http://www.redcrossblood.org/news/BadgerHawkeye). There are many ways to do this in Drupal including allowing users from each location to have access to update their own news sites! This capability is "out of the box" in Drupal!

Location/Mapping Information: various
The Red Cross is all about locations! The search box by ZIP code is on nearly ever page somewhere! The search results in a good looking, information rich map. While there is some custom work done here, from a Drupal standpoint, much of this can be accomplished with a few modules. Depending on your needs, Drupal 8 can be used, but the ecosystem of mapping modules is so rich and feature-full for Drupal 7 that it can be an option for a long time as well!

Contact Information: various
Finally, the Red Cross allows for easy communication with local areas to get their volunteers plugged in as efficiently as possible.

How Drupal Does: GREAT!
While it might be a little time-consuming to develop the custom code for them to move to Drupal 8, the Red Cross doesn't need to hurry! Drupal 7 has lots of life left, and they can always look for additional support through companies like myDropWizard if their internal or community resources feel thin.

While the American Red Cross may even be the first name that comes to your mind when I say "non-profit", their needs are similar to yours! In fact, your needs may even be able to be tackled out of the box in Drupal 8!

The bottom-line, when we talked about non-profits in our meeting this morning, I mentioned the American Red Cross - not knowing that they were even using Drupal! They are, and while I don't have any first-hand knowledge, it appears to be working GREAT for them. I think they'd argue with the "Drupal Sucks at Non-Profits" message.

OK. One More. This one is a little smaller of an organization: The Field Museum!

The Field Museum (Chicago)


The Field Museum (in Chicago!)
https://www.fieldmuseum.org
Currently Running Drupal 7

Fundraising: https://www.fieldmuseum.org/support
In the main navigation menu, The Field Museum directs patrons to different donation options as well as some benefits to being a museum member. However, while it wasn't immediately obvious if there was a way to pay online, Drupal would allow them to pretty simply integrate that in.

Volunteer Coordination: https://www.fieldmuseum.org/support/volunteer
Another simple URL but tucked away in a secondary navigation area, there were several articles that could be handled using Views as well as a link to a volunteer portal that is not handled by Drupal - though probably could be!

Events: https://www.fieldmuseum.org/at-the-field
Front Page! There are featured in nice promotional graphics as well as a link to the events page in the main navigation at the left! This re-use of information is likely done in Views. This could be done with Drupal 8 out of the box. While they are using Drupal 7 currently - which only needs a handful of modules, this is exactly in the sweet-spot of Drupal Strengths!

News/Blog/Updates: https://www.fieldmuseum.org/about/press/materials
This too was tucked away just a bit, The Field Museum "press room" has press releases! This is an ideal candidate for using Drupal's Views. Views could also be used to surface the newest press release to the front page or a more prominent location - automatically!

Location/Mapping Information: https://www.fieldmuseum.org/visit/directions
While there are detailed text directions, The Field Museum didn't take advantage of some powerful Drupal 7 modules that would allow for a more visual system for getting locations with Google Maps. It's adequate, but since it's really just a page with directions, any system could pull this off. I'd rather see something more complex, but it does the job. It seems like we're still hitting all the checkmarks!

Contact Information: https://www.fieldmuseum.org/about/contact
There's a contact form as well as loads of phone numbers and other contact information. It's probably a bit overwhelming for the majority of people looking for simply "General Info". I'd make that a little easier to find, but it is right at the bottom of every page!

How Drupal Does: PRETTY GOOD!

It's a great looking, well designed site! Developing a website is subjective to a large degreee, but I'd love to see more leveraging of Drupal's strengths for organizations like this. It certainly isn't a slouch, and Drupal is more than up to the task!

Summary

So, I sort of broke down what I viewed as the most crucial parts of a non-profit website. With the two well-known examples given both using Drupal 7, I tried to point out where Drupal 8 could easily handle the task as well.

I have no idea what was spent in time or money on developing these sites, but hopefully taking a brief look at these non-profit examples, you'll see some areas where Drupal can really be leveraged for your own non-profit.

Now is your chance to chime in. We've been tossing around coming up with some resources for Drupal 8 for use in non-profits. While I think the basics are covered better than ever, are there some crucial items that we're missing? Are there any "must-have" features that your non-profit needs - but you just aren't quite sure how to get it from Drupal? Is Drupal still too expensive? Too Complicated?

Please comment below!

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Comments

Of more concern than the increasing server demands is the hardening of the community. What used to be a helpful, supportive place is becoming more and more commercialized, with more and more essential information being withheld unless people are paid to divulge it. This does not work when you have to deal with several components, i.e. multilingual, commerce, webforms, private documents. Shared servers that many non profits can afford are a very tight squeeze. Clients still can't do the core update process from within the admin section. It's a good system for mid to large firms providing to the White House, or National organizations, but it is a poor choice for local non profits.

There is some truth to this, but I wouldn't called it a "hardening of the community" (IMO, Drupal's community is still great!) but a change in direction of the business eco-system. It's harder to find Drupal freelancers (who previously would have helped out small businesses and non-profits) as most have started working at big Drupal shops. And Drupal shops have focused on bigger and bigger sites!

Internally, at myDropWizard, we've been discussing ways to make modern Drupal more attainable (both technically and support-wise) to small non-profits, which we've alluded to a little in this article (and where it's title comes from ;-)). We'll probably be talking more about this soon!

Chris -

I echo most of what David says above. I'd also add that I've found the Drupal community extremely helpful. Perhaps we're all a little busier than we used to be, but that's no necessarily a bad thing in itself. I hope we work to close the gap on some of the missing pieces in Drupal for non-profits. I actually do believe Drupal 8 can be used by small non-profits, but Drupal 7 absolutely can - and is!

I know the security issues with upgrading core from within the admin, but in my experience, there is more of a danger from non-upgraded systems. There are ways to mitigate that a bit.

Note: I will put in a small plug for myDropWizard Basic Plan. For a very modest amount of money (that even includes hosting for those with smallest budgets!), we handle all of these updates for our clients!

That's a clickbait title if I ever did see one.

Yeah, sort of. :-) We wanted to start a discussion about if Drupal is still a good choice for non-profits, and we needed something to bring passionate commenters in. See my reply to the comment above for a little background.

Still, too bad the title—as declaratively cutesy as it is—stands to perpetuate a negative connotation for Drupal. Say, showing up in a casual web search. Especially these days when the project's image and the DA's finances could use a boost. Even a question mark at the end of the title would seem stronger.

The real value and hope in the article proper is the concept "make modern Drupal more attainable (both technically and support-wise) to small non-profits"—plenty of merit in that end, and promoting this angle beyond the article itself would go a long way. Thanks!~

JPW -

The comments are already being made. We want to be part of the conversation in clearing up misconceptions. We do more than our share of "Drupal is Awesome" headlines. We really want to get the word out about Drupal's strengths!

I actually believe small non-profits - even on Drupal 8 - have a very solid platform to build a reasonable site for a reasonable budget. Drupal 7 is also still an option. The stories of Drupal's demise have been greatly exaggerated, and we need to look outside of our bubbles once in awhile to make sure everyone else knows what we know!

Thanks for the comments. I appreciate it!

Welly -

"Sort of", but really, it was just a parroting of much of the sentiment I've heard at DrupalCamps and DrupalCon in addition to one-on-one discussions on those within the Drupal community and on the outside. There is still this idea that Drupal is hard.

That said, if it does bait any non-Drupal-believers, I think that is a great thing! We need more people brought into the conversation and the community!

"Clients still can't do the core update process from within the admin section"

This may be an issue with Drupal 8 in the future, with a number of discussion threads relating to the role of Composer in updates. But right now, with Drupal 7 or Drupal 8 you can still do most updates, including core ones right from the site (using Cpanel or equivalent in conjunction with the admin screens on the site). I'm pretty sure the core developers and decision makers are conflicted: Composer may be technically superior and future proof but unless they can pull off some magic software tricks it's not going to work for shared web hosting environments that most local non-profits (and individual users such as myself) use.
That said, most non-profits are best off on Drupal 7 for the next year or two cause Drupal 8 is not ready for prime-time.

Frank -

I think you bring up a number of very valid points! The update process needs to be worked out. I know many veteran developers love the way things are, but we need to get back to "easy things are easy, hard things are possible" in Drupal.

I think Drupal 8 can be used by small non-profits with basic needs like I outlined, but your points are totally valid! Thanks!

I have a few D7 sites for a non-profit... I don't think I will be going to D8 anytime soon as there is not anyone else who can even deal with D7. Even here at the University few, if any, are looking into D8. Its just too much (in terms of dev) and too little (in terms of modules and support).

E

Eric -

I think we agree! Drupal 7 has lots of life left. I guess what I was trying to convey is that MUCH can be done out-of-the-box with Drupal 8 now. For many non-profits, that's enough. Drupal 7 is a mature product, and is arguably the best platform for low-budgets.

Thanks for the great points!

As a freelancer, I work with non-profits and medium-sized businesses and organizations. While I think D8 has advantages (and improvements) over D7 and I've used D8 for couple of live sites, I'm sticking with D7 for non-profits for the time being. There's just still too much uncertainty about requirements for Composer (more a less a necessity for custom donations or small item/ticket sales systems) to put that worry on me for updating (and trying to figure out a dev workflow) or the non-profit that probably doesn't have the budget for major changes later. Non-profits may be "ambitious," but their budget aren't always, so D8 is, imho, not the best choice for them yet.

Danita -

Certainly there are some complexities of Drupal 8. There is no question. I feel that pain. I've yet to complete moving my simple modules over to Drupal 8. That said, there is tremendous power "out-of-the-box" in Drupal 8. I think most non-profits could get by with what is in Core!

That isn't to say it's not valid to stick with Drupal 7. Drupal 7 is a mature software product that will be supported well into the future! myDropWizard is supporting Drupal 6 until February 2019, and you can bet Drupal 7 will be viable far beyond that!

Drupal is certainly appropriate for the non-profit examples you include. Meanwhile very small non-profits with mostly volunteer labor simply do not have the resources to maintain a Drupal site or to pay someone market rate to do so. They may be better served with Wordpress and/or a turnkey SaaS solution.

Dave -

Thanks so much for your well-reasoned reply. That is certainly a commonly held idea! I guess I would stick up for Drupal mostly because of the rich built-in content field system and Views. This allows for very simple, flexible creation and management of events.

I think Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 both are great options for smaller organizations. Drupal 7 is totally mature, and anything can be built cost-effectively. If a rebuild is expected 3-4 years out anyway, Drupal 7 is great for now with a Drupal 8/9 migration then!

myDropWizard is committed to supporting Drupal 6 until February of 2019, so you can be sure our Drupal 7 support will go far beyond that! The rest of the community will also not move quickly from Drupal 7.

There was a great discussion about this at TC Drupal Camp http://2017.tcdrupal.org/session/drupal-vs-wordpress-panel

I've worked with many non-profits 10+ years of open soruce development. In the Drupal bubble, I'm known for writing the original version of the the CiviCRM Starter Kit distribution that made it easier to install both projects on hosts like Pantheon as well as writing several popular modules to improve the Drupal/CiviCRM integration. I've worked for large non-profits with > 1 million members as well small groups with only 2 or 3 staff members. I've done Drupal integration work with several CRM and fundraising services and open source solutions.

For the last 2+ years, I have only worked in higher ed and no longer contribute to CiviCRM. The university I work for has a handful of D8 sites in production and will eventaully update the ~1,000 D7 sites we run to D8.

I feel like I can respond with some amount of authority and independence to say... INVESTING IN A D8 CMS/CRM IS A REALLY, REALLY BAD IDEA FOR BUDGET CONSCIOUS NON-PROFITS.

Features you've highlighted like Fundraising, Volunteer Coordination, Events are better handled by a CRM than a CMS. The argument that Drupal is a framework that can be used to build both a CMS and CRM is not new and there are some valid benefits to that approach. Unfortunately to date, none of the Drupal projects (CRM Core, RedHen, OpenCRM, Party, etc) committed the resources and/or developed the community or features of a project like CiviCRM. The advatnages of integrating a CRM with your CMS far outweigh any benefits a CRM built on the D8 framework would have. If you really want to get into the details of the features non-profits are looking for in a robust CRM, you should read the report Idealware put together with NTEN that's available for free at http://www.idealware.org/reports/consumers-guide-low-cost-donor-manageme....

From the feature development perspective, there are a number of advantages to isolating concerns. Developers who really understand non-profit fundraising and membership management will likely develop better UI and process than someone who primarily develops CMS functionality. Isolating concerns also isolates support and updates. Integrating a CMS with Salesforce or CiviCRM means that a non-profit can hire developers and designers to update their website with minimal understanding of the CRM. If a non-profit using CiviCRM or Salesforce wants a new website, they can switch from Drupal -> WordPress -> Backdrop without worrying about downtime to critical CRM functionality.

A nonprofit building critical functionality on D8 will find itself locked into a framework with an increasing smaller, more expensive pool of developers capable of doing custom development and design.

But in LeVar Burton style, you don't have to take my word for it. Take a look at what larger, tech savvy non-profits are doing*.

Wikimedia - Custom www site w/ CiviCRM
EFF - D7 site w/ D7/Ubercart/CiviCRM on https://supporters.eff.org
Creative Commons - WordPress www site (was Drupal) w/ GravityForms base donation forms (was CiviCRM... may or may not still be)
Drupal Assocaition - D7 www site w/ CiviCRM integration
Free Software Association - Plone www site w/ CiviCRM integration
Amnesty International - D7 www site w/ Engaging Networks integration (was CiviCRM)
Linux Foundation - D7 www site w/ Salesforce CRM
Mozilla Foundation - Custom Django www site w/ Stripe donation forms

*Disclaimer: These sites are always improving and while many share the source of their www site, I’m largely going by what I see in the source code and what I know from my interactions with the orgs as a member and at conferences over the 10+ years.

With CiviCRM 5.0, that project is also moving to modern PHP framework with Symfony and Composer. They've been using GitHub for years so the development workflow it PR vs. patch based. If I was going to try to build a great solution that was a single codebase in 2017, I would focus on improving the CMS features of CiviCRM vs. building a CRM on D8.

Kevin -

Wow. Thank you for your in-depth comment. I agree with - probably everything you've said. I don't think I would build a NEW site on Drupal 8 / CiviCRM right now. That is probably at least a year away. I would consider Drupal 7, however. There is no reason not to embrace Drupal 7 even now for a new site if Drupal 8 is not a reasonable option.

myDropWizard will be supporting Drupal 6 until February 2019, so you can be sure that our Drupal 7 support will go for many years to come. That's just us! The rest of the Drupal community isn't abandoning Drupal 7 yet either!

There are many things we would all do different regarding Drupal 8 if we had it to do all over again, but we're in a good place, and in a year, I think we could be in a great place!

Thanks again for sharing the in-depth knowledge!

I'm working with small businesses and very small non profits for years now. I started drupal development with drupal 4.6 and built lot's of small and bigger sites with any drupal version since then.

Since my first projects with d8, I'm looking more and more desperately for a good replacement CMS for these small customers. My reasons not to recommend d8 for them are the hosting costs and as well the lack of developers - if I don't want to work for them anymore, they will simply not find a replacement for me which my customers can afford.

I love drupal for the freedom it gives to my small, local customers. Most of them do not want to rebuild their site in 3 or 4 years - a project started now is expected to last for 7 or 8 years. No problem with regular updates. If any customer want's to enable features he doesn't think of at the beginning of the project, I'm rather sure there's a module for it or I can simply build a custom one.

With drupal 8 I'm not so sure this will work for my customers as it used to be. Shared hostings will always have some limits, affordable developers or site builders become more and more hard to find. For the moment I use drupal 7 even for new sites on shared hosts - but this option has a limited future as well. I find it hard for me to loose the freedom drupal gives to me - but as I think it's the best strategy for the future of my small company to give a good service to and build appropriate sites for my customers, I cannot really recommend d8 at the moment and I do not see, that the strategy of drupal as a CMS is to become a system for small sites again.

I've looked into the database of joomla and wordpress to find out, how structured they store the contents of their sites. They don't look like a good replacement for drupal, the data structure looks more like very old drupal sites before d4.7. So I started to look into smaller CMS. I don't want to build custom code - that's why I chose drupal all those years ago.

Any recommendation for a CMS that could replace drupal for small businesses would be welcome! I want to stay with drupal for bigger companies and projects, but I really want to have a second option for small sites as well. (Can somebody compare drupal with Textpattern? There is not much movement on their site, but I found a module which sounds like old CCK there ... which gave me some hope :)

Hi Anita!

Have you looked at Backdrop? We only do support and maintenance for Drupal 6, 7 and 8, so we don't have a ton of experience with it, but reading your comment made me think it sounded exactly like the pitch for Backdrop. :-) It would give you the easist transfer of your existing knowledge rather than having to learn a whole new CMS.

If you do check it out, please let us know how it goes!

Thanks,
David

Hi David,

true - I consider Backdrop and I know, that this would be the easiest way. As I feel myself forced to take a look to another system than drupal, I'm really curious about all the other systems out there.

The problem with most experts is, that we do have a restricted view to only our small part of knowledge. Perhaps, with this post we can find experiences of people who really took a deeper look into another software.

Thanks,
Anita

Hello,
I am not a professional but an "amateur" using D7 for 6 years and I have trained several people to use this version which is very interesting for small local organizations for their communication and some tasks a little more complex (Registration of reservations, payment and ordering of articles, ...).
D8 although very simple to implement very quickly proves difficult to use without having a computer scientist.
The proposed choices for the themes proposed are much fewer and varied and much less directly usable without adaptations requiring knowledge of programming.
The simple implementation of a powerful WISIWYG system isn't easy.
I dare not even talk about an update of the core system for the people I am talking about.
Drupal 8 is not for everyone like Drupal 7. Wanting to promote it is commendable but not objective with all.

I work at a philanthropic nonprofit as the sole Drupal developer and about half my job is Drupal. Being in philanthropy we work with a lot of other nonprofits too and I'm often exposed to their website plans and asked for advice. I used to recommend Drupal most of the time but now with Drupal 8 I'm telling all but the larger nonprofits to consider alternatives.

I picked D8 for us and I hired a vendor to help me build the site. We had a significant budget and we still didn't get nearly all we asked for and their developers encountered many challenges. Our design budget alone exceeds the entire website budget of most nonprofits and yet my todo list will keep me busy for a year after spending far, far more than most nonprofits are capable of spending, and most of those nonprofits have no inhouse developer. Drupal 8 is also pretty damned complex, has a very steep learning curve even for experienced Drupal devs, is still fragile in parts and difficult to use in many ways feeling like a less stable Drupal than its age suggests, is still lagging badly on modules, is not yet utilising the better debugging elements and other power of Symfony, pretty much requires a vastly overpriced proprietary editor that has no nonprofit rates, requires a lot of sysadmin setup, etc, etc.

Our vendor is a 40+ person shop and when they were delivering the site to me we had to fight to get some of the basic stuff that D8 promises out of the box (e.g. in-place editing, simplified admin, testing, etc) because it is not as stable as you hope and gets complex as soon as you deviate at all from the basics in your design. I had a frank conversation with their IT lead afterwards based on my own misgivings and asked him if he thought D8 was too big for my organization (we're small, but still bigger than most nonprofits we serve) and his answer was the same as mine... almost. Bear in mind we had a healthy budget, the help of a quality experienced vendor, 100% of my time for 6 months after delivery and 50% of my time thereafter, plus the budget to attend DrupalCon and have Drupal user group attendance count as work time. These are all things most nonprofits have little of.

Your examples are huge corporate-sized nonprofits and they represent corporations more than they represent the average nonprofit. They are a fringe case, not the norm. In my experience the norm is no in-house developer or one if they are middle-sized, and budgets (if they have any) in the $5K to $50K range and that needs to include a support contract). I believe open source and nonprofits are a great fit in terms of both being about the common good. Wordpress is messy, with some bafflingly daft things going on, is not a good developer tool in many ways (not designed for us) and has security concerns, however if it is hosted with a more security-minded company like Pantheon and using certain security plugins and other best practices it can be a pretty decent tool overall. For the most part I'd say that Drupal has outgrown smaller anything: smaller nonprofits, smaller businesses, etc...and a lot of medium sized ones too. Wordpress sites are easier to use, easier to maintain and much cheaper at every stage. Maintenance of my D8 site is more time and work than our prior Drupal site or Wordpress site...by far. There's a payoff in how much better a dev tool it is and how much more stable it is on the best practices side, but the overhead is high and I think beyond most smaller orgs. Asked recently if I made the right decision on D8 I replied, "Yes, but barely."

Just like we lost the smaller sites and personal sites battle to Wordpress long ago I think Wordpress is going to take over a lot of that middle ground too now, which as a Drupal person for 11 years now I find sad.

I'd also echo some of the above comments on community. I've been in the Drupal community a long time, have run a DrupalCamp and attended others, have attended 7 DrupalCons and have been to and helped run more DUGs than I can count. Long gone are the hobbyists, stand-alone designers, etc and even smaller vendors are becoming rarer. The group photo at DrupalCon used to be the big thing, but now 75% of the room is gone before the photo, most of them walking out the room the moment Dries wrapped up his keynote and during his Q&A. It's changed... a lot. It's become more tool than community. Contributions are more about payoff than pay it forward.

One of the things making it hard for me is that while before I'd find answers to my hardest questions online at least 80-90% of the time, now it's more like 25% of the time. As a stand-alone developer without the benefits of more knowledgeable colleagues and shared resources I mostly have to sort things out on my own and it's been rough. I've had to go back to regularly attending Drupal user groups and such (where the shrinking of the "community" part of the community is also very evident) and buying knowledge with coffee or lunch with colleagues in the field.

Everything takes so much longer and there's so much more sweat and tears. I miss how fun it all used to be and I don't get nearly as many, "Drupal is so awesome!" moments as I used to.

I believe Krugs nailed it in the post right above me. I don't want to see any more Nonprofits get hosed trying Drupal 8. :-(
Who was that famous guy who said, "Drupal 8 is for AMBITIOUS SITES?" It was none other than Dries Buytaert the founder of Drupal. Just google "Ambitious Drupal Sites" and see everyone competing for the keywords and trying to prove that THEY can build your next ambitious project.
We must face the music and not kidd ourselves. While some Nonprofits can afford D8, most cannot. D8 was not built with Nonprofits in mind. A good shop can make it work, but it will cost you.
The sooner we stop kidding ourselves into thinking that this is the "same ol' Drupal" we've enjoyed for years, the sooner we can redirect our time and energy into what Drupal has become.
CONCLUSION: If you have the $$$$$ then build whatever you want in D8. But if you have a "D7 Sized" budget then DO NOT pursue D8. [IMO]
Anyone would be very wise to take their D7 sized budget and build something amazing with https://backdropcms.org/ where the classic Drupal goodness exists alongside tremendous innovations. :-)
- dougvann

Drupal 7 is walking it's last legs.
It was “promised” that D7 will start getting new features once D8 get released... What happened?

There was an effort last summer for D7 core to become php7 friendly, and to a great extend it currently work even on php7.1.5 ... but the fact that D8 toke so long, and D7 was in feature feeze because of it, and the fact that D8 promised to break ever contrib module, most contrib maintainers abandoned their modules and Drupal as a platform.

Backdrop is commendable but I am not a believer - still kitchen sink approach to content - a body field and everything under the sun thrown in it.

Drupal 8 is following the same pattern, core is generally going nowhere.
Some media-something is gonna show in 8.4 but it's up to contrib modules to make it work in practice.

Every sane person expected pathauto, and modern rich-media capabilities to be built-in Drupal 8 - didn't happen.

The D8 super-dupper-cache turned out a huge mess, currently resulting in enormous cache tables, which might get fixed in 8.4 - until then, run “drush cr” daily, seriously - WTF?

Seems to me, Acquia and the circle of agencies are playing with every outsider, they way they played-out Larry, Chx, Jimmy Berry(boombatower) and everyone kicked out of Drupal.

Drupal 4.7 was sucha nice release, Drupal 5 and 6 - excellent!
Drupal 7 was somehow the first substantially schizo release, half baked entity, bugs everywhere.

Drupal 8 is a franken-schizo monster. There are some cool stuff around the paragraphs module and the contrib media is getting there, nicely... with lots of patches, spit, composer prayer and symfony meditation...

With a decent load balancer and Varnish in front and some redis/memcache at the back, is kinda not very ugly monster but it feels wrong, it's dirty, it's not technically elegant.

The constant decoupled drupal babel coming from various core or Acquia and co devs is kinda funny.
The fact that Wordpress and co are moving towards a Drupal paragraphs-like solution (Gutenberg) but running on Node is kinda funny too, the negative response to it from within their community is even funnier.

To the folks from the above comments, curious about open source Drupal alternatives.

Bolt CMS and October CMS are nice, I have a couple of smallish projects running on both with minimum maintenance hassle.

Back to the non-profit theme -- they should stick to static html - not talking about static generators of the Ruby, Python, Go flavors but good old static html.
The reason is very simple - speed, security and no maintanence in the next, say, 20+ years.

If a non-profits need a dynamic cms kinda thingy, Drupal, Wordpress or else, then they are not non-profit.
No sane non-profit with minimal budget shall jump into technical-dept-planned-obsolence mouse trap.

We posted a follow-up article with an idea for a solution to this problem at Drupal 8 has left small non-profits behind... How can we fix that?

Just a note to the folks who commented here previously :-)

For all the people talking about shared hosting costs as an issue with D8 with non-profits. Microsoft is now giving away $5000 of Azure credits per year to any registered non-profit. So we non-profits should have the least hardware problems of anyone. I acknowledge there is the maintenance/support aspect of the hosting. I'm looking at opendevshop with interest for that, alternatively docker4drupal with kubernetes.

Personally I've found D8 generally very pleasant to develop on. Figuring out which contrib module to develop on or which way to tackle a problem is harder. And the whole devops side of things, setting up the hosting, testing and local environments and their syncing is a nightmare ... waaaay worse than the D8 coding. Composer was scary at first, but not a problem once I bit my lip and engaged with it.

My church has a Drupal site and they need to upgrade their donate cart. What's the best solution?

Without knowing more about the site (ex. What about their cart do they need to upgrade? Just the version, or is a specific change necessary? How is the current cart implemented?) it's impossible to say.

I'd recommend either:

  1. Posting more details somewhere a wider audience will see it (like https://drupal.stackexchange.com) and maybe get some free help,
  2. Contacting a service provider (like us!) privately to discuss the options for some paid help

Sorry I couldn't offer anything more concrete here!

I've worked with WordPress and Drupal. Drupal seems dated, not intuitive and from what I can see, there are limited amount of modules. Oh, and installing or uninstalling modules is a whole topic in itself. For standard websites using a CMS - WordPress hands down is better than Drupal.

Thanks for the reply, JB. Modules could certainly be easier, but not because it's dated. To the contrary, the Drupal world is rapidly moving to Composer based solutions like much of the rest of the PHP world. It sure can be easier though. I think it's great to have passion for WordPress over Drupal. The competition is great. I hope both platforms continue to thrive. I'm more an "open source" fan than specifically a "Drupal" or "WordPress" fan.

I love Drupal and the concept of Drupal.

What i don't love, is the community. Mostly stubborn developers, and support is not a word in their dictionary. Poor user documentation.

This is exactly where Drupal fails. If Drupal survives another 5-10 years, i will do a backflip and land on my feets.

Most support queries are NEVER answered. Either in Drupal.org, Slack or Facebook groups.
Many modules are left abandoned and the developers have moved on to other CMS/projects.

Hi Sillo!

Thanks for the feedback! I'm sorry for your poor experience with the volunteers in the Drupal community. That has largely not been my personal experience, and if there's anything I can do to help you out, please let me know!

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