January 25, 2015

Social-media use grows at nonprofits

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Nonprofits are making greater use of social media, with Facebook reaching "saturation levels," a new report says.

Ninety-eight percent of over 3,500 nonprofits responding to an email survey used Facebook in 2012, with 8,317 members on average, up 30 percent from a year earlier, says the 4th Annual Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report from NTEN, Common Knowledge and Blackbaud.

In comparison, 72 percent used Twitter, with 3,290 members on average, up 81 percent from 2011, while only 44 percent used LinkedIn, with 314 members on average, down 74 percent from 2011.

And only 23 percent used Google+, with 47 members on average.

Acquiring Facebook "likes" and Twitter "followers," on average, cost $3.50 and $2.05, respectively.

The average value of a Facebook like totaled $2.14.81 over the 12 months following the acquisition.

That value, which was "self-reported" by respondents, far outpaces benchmarks of actual values of $32 for "offline" donors and $62 for "online" acquired donors, according to the 2011 donorCentrics Internet and Multichannel Giving Report from Target Analytics, a Blackbaud company.

The wide difference between the self-reported value and other actual marketplace benchmarks suggest that nonprofits "still lack the necessary tools to truly measure the value of social-network members," Jeff Patrick, president of Common Knowledge, says in a statement.

Respondents on average managed 2.1 Facebook pages and 1.2 Twitter accounts, with a very small number of respondents 10 or more Facebook pages or Twitter accounts.

The most common fundraising tactic was an "ask" for an individual gift, with 54 percent of respondents saying they do not use Facebook for fundraising.

Among all respondents, individual fundraising was a priority for 33 percent,  event fundraising for 20 percent, and "causes" for 17 percent.

Asked the reasons for their success in using commercial social networks, 41 percent of respondents say they took the time to develop a vision and strategy for their social-networking programs, 37 percent said their executive team made social-networking a priority, and 28 percent said they created a new position or added staff specifically focused on their commercial social-networking program.

Sixty-six percent of respondents say they use Facebook advertising to build awareness of their organization or program, 54 percent use it to get new "likes" for their Facebook page, and 33 percent use it to spur supporters to take some action, such as signing a petition, volunteer or attend a free event.

Comment on this article


Social media continues to grow. Not sure the survey captures penetration within federations: UnitedWay Worldwide is on Facebook, how about UW Portland, ME and UW Portland, OR.

Community Based Organizations can better serve their communities by connecting directly with their local members. I hope future surveys will address the level of penetration of larger nonprofits.

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