How nonprofits are using social networks

in Online Fundraising,Social Media

The second annual “Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report” was just released.  This study of how nonprofits use commercial social networks also compares usage changes from year to year.  It is a joint effort by NTEN, ThePort Network, and Common Knowledge.

Overall more and more nonprofits are using social networks. A quick snapshot of what the study shows is as follows:

  • 86% of nonprofits surveyed use Facebook. This is a growth of 16%.  However, the average community size shrank in the past year from 5,391 members to 2,440.  The three groups that are the biggest users of Facebook are international groups (97%), environmental and animal welfare (91%), and the arts and culture nonprofits (89%).
  • Twitter saw more growth – 38% – than Facebook. The result is that about 60% of those surveyed are using Twitter.  Another area of growth is the average community size which increased dramatically from 286 followers to 1,792.  Twitter gained more nonprofit tweeters and the nonprofits on Twitter gained more followers.
  • LinkedIn remained essentially the same in terms of the number of nonprofits using it – 33.1%.  The biggest users of this social network are associations (65% use it) and higher education (45% use it).  This makes sense because LinkedIn is predominately a business-to-business network.
  • YouTube saw a tiny bit of growth with 48.1% of nonprofits taking advantage of this social media network.
  • The social network that is rapidly falling off the nonprofit radar screen is MySpace.  It suffered a 45% drop in popularity with only 14.4% of nonprofits using it in 2010.

How are nonprofits using commercial social networks?  The number one purpose or role is for marketing.  92.5% said that promoting their brand, programs, events or services is the most popular role for social networks within their organization.  Second in line is fundraising at 45.9%.

In my opinion cultivation ought to be high on the list of uses.  Perhaps some nonprofits lump this in with marketing.  Click  here to read more ideas on how else to use social networks.

One result I found interesting was the comparitive growth between Facebook and Twitter.  While both gained nonprofit users . . . the average community size shrank dramatically on Facebook and grew by leaps and bounds on Twitter.  I can’t help but wonder if some of the changes Facebook has made in the past year contributed to the decline.  I say this because many changes have been unpopular with users, made it more complicated to use, and generally muddied the water for a lot of users. 

Did Facebook drive away users?  And did this impact the average community size for nonprofits?  Maybe so.

You can download a free copy by clicking this hypertext link: Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report