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How nonprofits are using social media

April 10, 2012

For the 4th Annual Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report written by NTEN, Common Knowledge and Blackbaud, in January and February 2012, nonprofits were asked about their use of commercial social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. as well as whether they had in-house social networks. The North American organizations responding varied from those with budgets under $1 million to those over $250 million.

The following are the 2012 Top Twelve Social Media Insights from the report.

1. The average respondent Facebook & Twitter communities grew by 30% and 81%, respectively. In 2012, respondents accumulated an average of 8,317 members on Facebook, and 3,290 followers on Twitter. 98% of all the respondents were on Facebook, a 10.1% increase over 2011.

2. Respondents own an average of 2.1 Facebook pages and 1.2 Twitter accounts but the gross majority of organizations have one or just a few Facebook pages or Twitter accounts.

3. The average cost of a Facebook Like is $3.50 and a Twitter follower costs $2.05.

4. The average value of a Facebook Like is $214.81 over the 12 months following acquisition (calculated based upon the total revenue received from the supporter over the 12 months following acquisition including individual donations, membership, events, merchandise, etc.).

5. The most common fundraising tactic on Facebook is a request for an individual gift. 54% were not fundraising on Facebook, 33% were soliciting for individual donations (e.g. one-time gifts, memberships, monthly gifts), and 20% were doing event fundraising. Causes was third with 17%, personal fundraising (e.g. peer-to-peer fundraising linked to a mission-focused theme) was fourth with 11%. Other forms of revenue-generation included promoting the charity, soliciting in-kind gifts and selling products.

6. Budgets and staffing for commercial social networks continue to climb at a slow but steady pace.

7. The top 3 factors for success on social networks: 41% identified development of a strategy, 37% identified prioritization by executive management, and 29% identified dedicated social media staff. Survey respondents who did not have a presence on commercial social networks stated that the top two reasons were: no strategy and no staff or budget.

8. Facebook advertising is used primarily to meet non-fundraising goals such as building awareness, a base of supporters and non-financial matters such as recruiting volunteers, signing a petition, etc. 12% of respondents were not using Facebook advertising.

9.Google+ is struggling to gain momentum and Pinterest pops as top newcomer. 23% said they had a Google+ presence, with an average of 47 members in their Google+ community. However 98% have a presence on Facebook, with an average Facebook community of 8,317, and 72% are on Twitter, with an average base of 3,290 followers. The only other commercial social networking communities that they mentioned, was Pinterest. Pinterest reported they had 11.3 million unique visitors in January 2012 or 1.36 million visitors every day, with an average time spent on site of 15.8 minutes compared to YouTube’s 16.4 minutes, Facebook’s 12.1 minutes, and Twitter’s 3.3 minutes. A medium to watch in the opinion of the Report writers.

10. House social network use by respondents holds steady at 13% of all respondents. 56% of those with their own network use them primarily for program delivery, with 46% using them for marketing. 29% of these respondents allocate no budget to the effort.

11. The average number of members in house networks grew year-over-year by 265%. While the percentage of respondents operating a house network remains static, the number of members in these house networks increased substantially from 2011 to 2012 (265%), and a 519% climb from 2010 to 2012, with negligible increases in staffing, which may be due to the length of time the networks have been operating.**The Report notes that year-to-year changes in the selection of nonprofits responding may introduce some variability in the reported average community size.

12. Open source software takes over #1 spot from custom software for house social networks.

In short, nonprofits are following the social media trend. Of particular interest is the statistic from the nonprofits participating in the survey that a Facebook ‘Like’ costs $3.50 and pays a $214.81 dividend to the organization in the next 12 months.

Next post on this topic: 2012 Key trends and future trends to watch. For more information, see the Report.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2012 6:47 am

    This report will be useful for a group I am working with right now. Many thanks!

    • April 17, 2012 1:16 pm

      Great, glad to know you found it of use. It was interesting to see that Facebook and Twitter are the key components (with Pinterest a rising newcomer). Organizations can measure the value received from each Facebook follower and it is significant. While it is not possible perhaps to measure the direct value of a Twitter follower, it is hugely important in getting the message out.

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