Study: How nonprofits use social media and how arts compare to other nonprofits

Nonprofit Technology Network website, 3/20/11

NTEN, Common Knowledge, and Blackbaud [recently released the results of their] third annual Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report.  Between January 24 and February 10, 2011, nonprofit professionals responded to a survey about their organizations' use of online commercial social networks such as Facebook,Twitter, [and] LinkedIn, and social networks on [their] own websites, called house social networks.  Respondents included 11,196 nonprofit professionals representing small, medium, and large organizations and all nonprofit segments including: Arts & Culture, Education (Higher and K-12), Environment & Animal Welfare, Health & Healthcare, Human Services, Internal, Professional Associations, Public Benefit, and others.  The 2011 nonprofit social networking survey served up surprising results along with a few "I saw that coming" moments. Below are the top ten results:


From the commercial social networking world (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,YouTube)


1. Facebook Is Extending Its Lead - Slowly.  In the last 3 years Facebook usage has grown from 74% to 89%, with the largest chunk of this adoption occurring between 2009 and 2010 - a 16% jump from 2009 to 2010, and just 3% from 2010 to 2011.  By comparison, Twitter looks to have leveled off among nonprofits with usage levels reported at 57% in 2011, down slightly from 2010 (60%).

2. Commercial Social Networks Keep Getting Bigger.  Apparently nonprofit efforts to attract more supporters on social networks are working. The Facebook average community size is up 161% in 2011 to 6,376 members compared to 2,440 and 5,391 respectively in 2010 and 2009. The average Twitter follower base is up just 2% in 2011 to 1,822 followers (from 2010's 1,792 followers) and up a massive 535% from 2009 levels (287 followers).

3. Low-Level Fundraising on Facebook Increased.  The number of groups successfully generating a small fundraising revenue stream ($1 to $10K annually) has risen each year from 38% in 2009 to 46% in 2011.The number of organizations raising $100,000 or more per year on social networks doubled this year from 0.2% to 0.4%, but obviously this still represents a critically thin slice of the sector.

4. Nonprofits' sentiment toward social networks remains very positive.  82% find their commercial social networking (CSN) efforts valuable.  The same question in 2009 and 2010 saw 79% and 81% of nonprofits respectively found their CSNs valuable.

5. A Few Newcomers Hit the Scene:  In 2011 4% of nonprofits [said] they have a presence on FourSquare.  Jumo. Vimeo, Yelp, Picassa, Ning  and Delicious all individually accounted for less than 1% of responses each.  First-time mentions this year also include the donor-empowered peer-to-peer giving sites CrowdRise, FirstGiving, Razoo and Causes.  

6. Surprise Result: Master Social Fundraisers Come in all Sizes.  It turns out that nonprofits of all sizes are able to scale their fundraising efforts on commercial social networks.  27 nonprofits raised more than $100,000 on Facebook over the last year.  Fascinatingly, the first characteristic that jumped out reversed many of our conclusions regarding organization size: 30% of the Master Fundraisers were small organizations ($1 to $5MM annual budget) and 8% were Medium-sized ($6MM to $50MM).

7.  Environmental/Animal Welfare and International Services Groups Outperform the Rest of the Nonprofit Sector.  Environmental/Animal Welfare groups recorded the highest average community size on Facebook.  International Service organizations reported the highest use of Facebook and nearly double the number of Twitter base.

























Moving on to the house social networking world:


8. Average Community Size is Up (Again) for HSNs.  Just like commercial social networks, the community size of nonprofit house social networks (HSNs) is on the rise with an average of 5,967 members in 2011 compared to 3,520 in 2010, a 70% increase year-over-year. Organization size looks to have a direct bearing on community size for house networks with small organizations claiming an average base of 4,473 members, while large and very large nonprofits report average community sizes of 15,717 and 18,528 members respectively.

9. Program & Service Delivery Creeps into #1 Spot.  Over half (55%) of nonprofits who have a house social network report that the role of their community is for Program and Service delivery, eclipsing Marketing (49%) for the first time as the primary purpose for charity house networks. Layering on or weaving mission into socially-enabled online communities helps to differentiate them from Facebook; finally answering the question, "Why would my supporters register and use my house network if they are already on Facebook?

10. Business-focused Departments Still Running the Social Networking Show.  Unlike many of the recent technology waves (e.g. web sites, email, mobile) social networking projects (and communities) are typically managed by the business-oriented departments instead of IT. Even the more technologically intensive house social networks are owned by Communications (17%), Marketing (13%), Fundraising (13%), Programs (12%), Executive Management (10%) and cross-departmental (owned by multiple departments equally) (11%). 


FROM TC: To read the full report, click here [free registration required]

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