Report: Nonprofits Rely Heavily on Social Media to Raise Awareness

It would be wise for nonprofits to play to their strength on social sites if their aim is attracting a wider user base.

Nonprofits generally operate online as any other company would. However, many factors can influence users when it comes to engaging with nonprofits. Disasters, humanitarian crises and long-term societal issues can drive audiences to nonprofits. The 10th annual benchmark report from M+R examines the current online landscape for nonprofits.

The focus of many nonprofits is raising awareness, and they can do that most effectively by courting online audiences. Overall, the nonprofit sector invested $0.04 for every dollar of fundraising it received last year, although this varied widely across verticals. Wildlife and animal welfare charities spent $0.14 on average, while education nonprofits spent $0.03. Additionally, larger nonprofits spent significant revenue on advertising.

Within that spending, nonprofits are directing their funds to three main efforts—lead generation (38 percent), new donor acquisition (31 percent) and paid search ads (23 percent). All of these methods rely on social media, yet branding, which may be the greatest opportunity to spread a nonprofit’s message on social media, only received 4 percent of the advertising spend.

Branding campaigns on social may not convert leads at the highest rate, but they certainly increase the presence of a nonprofit in the minds of users, especially when tied to a video campaign. While email drives a lot of the activity for nonprofits, they also maintain large social media followings.

The report notes:

For every 1,000 email subscribers, the average organization has 355 Facebook fans, 132 Twitter followers and 19 Instagram followers.

Culture-based nonprofits bucked the trend by maintaining more than 1,600 Facebook fans for every 1,000 email subscribers, and the education vertical saw an average of 917 Twitter followers per 1,000 email subscribers. Animal welfare and rights groups saw the most Instagram followers, but they only had 55 on average. Nonprofits are missing out on a golden opportunity to invest more in branding on Instagram, as the site is a haven for users looking for branded content.

The social presence of nonprofits is growing significantly. The report shows an increase of 29 percent in Facebook fans across all verticals and a 25 percent increase in Twitter followers. What’s more, there are big increases in sharing and likes from sources outside the follower base, so it would be wise for nonprofits to play to that strength on social sites if their aim is attracting a wider user base.

Download the full report for more details.


Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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