Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report Reveals Trends in Online Engagement for Good

By on Wednesday, August 29, 2012
The 2012 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report is out and has some interesting new insights on how nonprofit organizations are utilizing social media. The report was sponsored by the Nonprofit Technology Network, Blackbaud and Common Knowledge. I registered online for the report and here’s a few exciting observations I noticed.
Nonprofits are exponentially growing communities on Facebook and Twitter. In 2012, respondents accumulated an average of 8,317 members on Facebook, and 3,290 followers on Twitter. Compared to 2011’s results – 6,376 members on Facebook, 1,822 followers on Twitter – that’s a 30% and 81% increase in community size on Facebook and Twitter respectively. Most nonprofits own on average only 2 Facebook pages, with only a few running significantly more.
Beyond Facebook and Twitter – nonprofits are still sorting out where they want to build communities in the social media universe. Surprisingly, 34% of the survey’s respondents did not have a presence on YouTube (the second largest search engine in the world – I would hope the 2013 survey looks at this issue a bit more) and 52% did not have a presence on LinkedIn. Sixty-eight percent did not have a presence on FlickR and 91% were not on FourSquare. Only 23% of those surveyed had a Google+  presence) – with an average of 47 members per reporting nonprofit in this survey.Pinterest was also cited by respondents as an area where they are building a presence. In-house social networks built by nonprofits remained steady over last year’s results, with 13% of nonprofits reporting an in-house social network. Interestingly, these in-house social networks continue to report growth with a 265% annual increase in members reported over the previous year.
At the same time, nonprofits are also beefing up social media staffing. The report noted a decline in the lower FTE level commitments for social media staff, as nonprofits are investing more resources into hiring people to cultivate and manage their online communities.
Individual giving is a key strategy for nonprofits using Facebook to fundraise but only a few nonprofits are raising significant money through social media – 46% of nonprofits responding indicated they were fundraising on Facebook, with the top category (33% of all responders) were prioritizing Individual Giving – soliciting Facebook supporters for individual donations (e.g. one-time gifts, memberships, monthly gifts). Event fundraising was the second highest category with 20% of all responders. Causes was third with 17%, and Personal Fundraising (e.g. peer-to-peer fundraising linked to a mission-focused theme rather than aface-to-face event) was fourth with 11%.
Facebook advertising is being used for non-fundraising goals. The survey found that the top 3 uses for Facebook advertising by nonprofits are awareness, base-building, and non-financial asks
such as recruiting volunteers, signing a petition, etc.
Coordination and buy-in remain critical for success. Nonprofits felt they were successful on social media if they developed a strategy for managing social media engagement, had buy-in from executive leadership, and had dedicated staff working with social media.

Download the report

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design work for publications and websites (portfolio). Ami blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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