Blog Feed Post

Nonprofits Deserve a Better CMS: Our “F” Review of Convio CMS

As software nerds, we sometimes forget that not all organizations are driven by sales. Your average CRM, project management, or CMS tool is loaded with terms like “leads,” “customers,” and “sales funnel” — not exactly helpful language for the ~1.5 million nonprofits operating in the United States.

Convio CMS review

Convio CMS – our first “F”!

Unfortunately for nonprofits, great cloud-based software systems that “get” nonprofit workflows are hard to find. Blackbaud dominates the sector, and frankly their offerings are pretty poor. These include Convio Luminate, a CMS system that’s designed for nonprofits, but that’s grossly behind the times. We’re giving it 29 points out of 100, which on our scale makes Convio our first ever  “F” — poor usability, archaic functionality, and significant security concerns make this a solution best avoided. Read on for our full review.

Convio CMS Functionality = 10 points (out of 30)

A content management system (CMS) should help you organize, create, and maintain web content. Leading CMS solutions—such as WordPress or Drupal—are popular because they’ve balanced great functionality with great usability. Convio does neither.

Convio users rely on a “windows explorer” type file structure to find and modify web content. Don’t remember where the page is nested? No shortcuts here—you’ll have to dig through folders and sub-folders, or wrestle with the awkward search.

Once you’ve found the content you’re looking for, updating it is a multiple-click, inflexible, 1995-inspired disaster. Seriously, try adding anchors without arbitrary spaces entered into the HTML. Or try inserting dynamic media. I dare you.

Just about the only redeemable feature is the “preview” link, which you can use to share unpublished content with non-Convio users. That’s helpful.

Overall though? 10/30 for functionality.

Convio CMS Usability = 10 (out of 20)

Functionality and usability go hand in hand, so it’s no surprise we’re displeased with Convio’s user experience.

Endless windows and lists aside, there are some serious head scratchers here: when inserting an image, why doesn’t Convio remember where images are stored (within their own system)? Why aren’t display preferences saved between sessions—or, you know, within the same session? Why is the system so slow?

In the interest of fairness, Convio might be liked by users who love windows explorer (crazy I know, but I assume they’re out there). The author toolbar—which lets you edit pages by navigating to their URL—is another nice touch (though it comes with security concerns, detailed below).

At the end of the day though, Convio is about as user friendly as a pack of razor blades. 10/20 for usability.

Convio CMS Security = 0 (out of 20)

This is convio.com's file structure - revealed using their own authoring tools.

This is convio.com’s file structure – revealed using their own authoring tools.

Any self-regarding web application should have a clear security statement, detailing where and how data is stored, along with encryption and redundancy standards. Convio doesn’t offer this (though, on the login page, there’s a quaint reminder that unauthorized access is “forbidden”—thanks, Convio).

More troubling, however, is that if users enable the aforementioned “author’s toolbar,” they’re then able to view the file structure of ANY Convio hosted site—not just their own. While folder structure isn’t necessarily private information, it doesn’t always correlate with URL breadcrumbs, and often contains unpublished “test” folders. Not informing users of this backdoor, however benign it may be, is a major security oversight.

To add to our displeasure, Convio has an unsurprisingly atrocious security record. 0/20 for security.

Convio CMS Integrations = 2 points (out of 10)

Convio CMS integrates with other Blackbaud products, but they mostly suck. There’s an open API that’s related to the CRM side of Convio (not reviewed here), but virtually no 3rd party integrations with the CMS. Pretty terrible.

2/10 for integrations.

Convio CMS Price = 0 points (out of 10)

Lack of transparency means you can’t find data on pricing structures, a tell-tale sign of an archaic system. We do know, however, that Convio contracts aren’t cheap, and include significant price additions for storage space (which, in an age of sub-$50 terabyte hard drives, is downright extortionist).

0/10 for price.

Convio CMS Support = 7/10

This is one area you won’t find us complaining too loudly. Convio support is fairly responsive, and offers detailed in-depth training webinars with friendly and helpful staff. There’s also a fairly robust helpdesk center, and quick email support. No user forums as far as we can tell though, and no feature request or bug reporting avenues.

7/10 for support.


Convio CMS is a poorly designed, archaic CMS that organizations should avoid like the digital plague: look to more established solutions like WordPress or Drupal. If Blackbaud’s CMS is any indication of the general quality of their other products (which include the ever popular “Raiser’s Edge“), we’d recommend staying away from the lot.

As a tangential sidenote, Convio is a good example of why we don’t generally recommend vertical-specific software. While it sounds like a good idea to invest in software built specifically for your industry, it’s too often inflexible, outdated, and poorly conceived.

VM Associates is a New York City based cloud computing consulting firm. We help companies (and nonprofits!) transition into newer, better, smarter software. Contact us to talk about your organization, the cloud, and how we might help.


The post Nonprofits Deserve a Better CMS: Our “F” Review of Convio CMS appeared first on VM Associates.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.

Latest Stories
Join us at Cloud Expo June 6-8 to find out how to securely connect your cloud app to any cloud or on-premises data source – without complex firewall changes. More users are demanding access to on-premises data from their cloud applications. It’s no longer a “nice-to-have” but an important differentiator that drives competitive advantages. It’s the new “must have” in the hybrid era. Users want capabilities that give them a unified view of the data to get closer to customers and grow business. The...
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Silicon India has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Published in Silicon Valley, Silicon India magazine is the premiere platform for CIOs to discuss their innovative enterprise solutions and allows IT vendors to learn about new solutions that can help grow their business.
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
"Loom is applying artificial intelligence and machine learning into the entire log analysis process, from start to finish and at the end you will get a human touch,” explained Sabo Taylor Diab, Vice President, Marketing at Loom Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is ...
After more than five years of DevOps, definitions are evolving, boundaries are expanding, ‘unicorns’ are no longer rare, enterprises are on board, and pundits are moving on. Can we now look at an evolution of DevOps? Should we? Is the foundation of DevOps ‘done’, or is there still too much left to do? What is mature, and what is still missing? What does the next 5 years of DevOps look like? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by DevOps Summit Conference Chair Andi Mann, panelists loo...
Cloud applications are seeing a deluge of requests to support the exploding advanced analytics market. “Open analytics” is the emerging strategy to deliver that data through an open data access layer, in the cloud, to be directly consumed by external analytics tools and popular programming languages. An increasing number of data engineers and data scientists use a variety of platforms and advanced analytics languages such as SAS, R, Python and Java, as well as frameworks such as Hadoop and Spark...
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A look across the tech landscape at the disruptive technologies that are increasing in prominence and speculate as to which will be most impactful for communications – namely, AI and Cloud Computing. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Curtis Peterson, VP of Operations at RingCentral, highlighted the current challenges of these transformative technologies and shared strategies for preparing your organization for these changes. This “view from the top” outlined the latest trends and developments i...
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, paneli...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TMC has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo and Big Data at Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Global buyers rely on TMC’s content-driven marketplaces to make purchase decisions and navigate markets. Learn how we can help you reach your marketing goals.