The platform is free

There’s no catch and no commitment—and the intention is for Open Y to remain free in perpetuity. There are no licensing fees to use the platform (and the code that resides on it). If you’ve heard of bloggers using free WordPress sites, this is a similar idea—the Open Y platform on Drupal 8 is free.

You may use the Open Y code for free; however, we recommend collaborating with a partner, which means you will incur some costs.

Many Ys choose to customize the Open Y code. The more customizations you want for your website, the more you might pay.

Although most YMCA associations opt for some degree of customization, you can install Open Y and use the templates and functionality “as is” to save costs, although this isn’t necessarily recommended.

For example, if you want to customize the look and feel of web pages (beyond choosing a font or color for a button), or change how content within the Schedules experience displays, you’ll likely need a partner.

The Open Y team does not receive any portion of the fees you might pay to partner for customizations, hosting or maintenance. However, the team does manage financial contributions to ensure ongoing success for Open Y.

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Other costs to use the platform

Although the Open Y platform is free, you will spend time and likely incur some costs to use the platform—even if you don’t include any customizations.


Defining requirements for, planning, designing and building a website take time. And a thoughtful approach might require the assistance of an external team of professionals.

To move an existing website to Open Y requires migrating content from the old to the new. The effort to do a content migration depends on how much content you currently have and how much of that you plan to keep.

For example, if current site has 30-60 web pages and no customizations you might migrate content within a few days on your own. For a site with thousands of webpages and a lot of customizations it likely will require external development support that can run into the mid-range of five-figures.


Without a host, a website is simply a collection of files and code—even “the cloud” is hosted on a computer somewhere.

Once you have the Open Y platform, you will need to find a place to host the code so people can access your website. The space and protection to host a website costs money.

Web hosting costs depend on your expected web traffic and integrations with other systems. For example, a single Y location with no integrations and a basic website might pay $10 a month for hosting. A large Y association with millions of annual site visits, and several, complex back-end integrations might pay $20k-50k annually.


All software comes with updates, which require installation and testing by people. Depending on the complexity, maintenance costs can really vary.

For example, a partner can complete maintenance upgrades for a small Open Y website with no customizations in less than an hour. For an Open Y website with several custom elements—the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities is an example—a team of developers might spend many hours (or even days) completing the upgrades, system backups and testing required.

In addition to updating the Open Y software, you might incur costs if you need help from a digital agency should something on the site “break” or need repair. Monthly tech-support costs can range from a few thousand dollars a year for a small/medium website to $40-60k annually for larger sites.

See how you can succeed

The vision behind Open Y is for YMCAs of all shapes and sizes to thrive in the digital environment.

Success Stories