Hello, first an introduction... I am new to NTEN, and I currently work in the private sector in Denver as a C# .NET developer. I am looking to get into a career in a non-profit but I am finding my skills are not as transferable as I had hoped. I see Drupal is a big non-profit CMS tool, I don't know much about it... I know there is lots of Drupal love on this board, but as far as PHP goes, I consider it somewhat of a dying language and I not convinced that is what I should focus on.
I am thinking of getting into Python/Django... I am aware Django is more of a web framework than a CMS... a bit apples to oranges. But Django can have those CMS capabilities and given that Python is used in data analysis/science, I thought I'd might as well get my feet wet with that as well.
I am just curious what else is out there? Is there any indication that things are trending away from Drupal to something else... A Drupal/PHP boot camp wouldn't hurt, but any advice as to what I should focus on learning to get me started outside of that?
How much software development and support do non-profits typically do in-house? Am I better off looking for a career in companies that write software that support non-profits?
Any advice is welcome! I have so many questions and I have learned so much from this community already in the last couple days since joining. Excited to be a part of it as I transition my career.
Thank you! Kim
My background is also tech (comp eng) and I've ended up working for a tech company that does consulting/solutions for the NFP sector. That was mostly by accident. :)
Do NFPs need software development? Yes and no. Like FP businesses, many are smaller and can't afford (and don't need) anything custom, they just need commodity off the shelf products, and to learn how to use them effectively – office 365 or google, a basic CMS, quickbooks, etc. In other cases their tech needs are more complicated, and can involve software development. Just because an organization is NFP doesn't mean that they aren't large or don't have money. Sometimes this can be web-facing public-facing systems, sometimes internal admin/business tools, sometimes mobile app development (although I feel the world is moving away a bit from native mobile apps), sometimes integration between different systems, etc.
My company uses both django and drupal, as well as other tools. Both can be effective tools, depending on your needs. My suggestion would be to NOT use django as a website platform (I mean as a CMS, or in other words, for a system which is mainly for managing content and end-user functionality). The problem is, you end up spending all your time reinventing the wheel. Most pieces of common functionality you would need to code, compared to the drupal ecosystem where 99% of the time a common need has already been solved using a module. For us, the purpose of using django is not as a CMS but rather if a client needs a custom software application, we'd use django as opposed to writing something in .net for example.
I hear your concern about php but to be honest the current landscape makes it unlikely to go away, I believe. People have complained about php for a long time but it has improved over time and at the end of the day it gets the job done. But more importantly, so many major CMSs are built on it: wordpress (most-used CMS in the world), drupal, joomla, etc. So, unless most of the websites in the world suddenly disappear, php is likely still here for a while.
TLDR – I wouldn't avoid learning php and 1-2 php-based CMSs. But that doesn't mean you can't/shouldn't also learn another platform like django, depending on what you're looking to do and what organizations you want to work with.
I don't know if this helps, but if I can share anything else just let me know.
Martin Hansen Senior Consultant / R&D Lead 519.725.7875 x2120 | 888.817.3048
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