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Allyson Kapin 5 min read

Are Nonprofits Raising Money Via Social Networks?

The 2011 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report provides some incredible data on how 11K+ nonprofits are using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. The study also answers the biggest question on everyone's mind. Are nonprofits raising any money on social networks?

Big Picture Data

  • Facebook is the most popular commercial social network for nonprofits.
  • Nine out of 10 nonprofits have a presence on Facebook .
  • Facebook usage levels are at 89% with nonprofits versus only 57% usage of Twitter.
  • LinkedIn is used by 1 in 3 nonprofits.
  • MySpace hit an all-time low with only 7% of nonprofits utilizing this platform.

Though it's assumed that Social Networks, besides MySpace, just keep growing, it's the amount of growth that may surprise you. Facebook has increased its community by 161% in 2011, and while Twitter is not used as often by nonprofits, the Twitter community only grew 2% in 2011 - not a drop in the bucket to its 535% growth from 2009. While the usage isn't static across the board, the majority of nonprofits (4 out of 5) agree that their social networking efforts are valuable to their growth and community engagement.

For the first time this year, quite a few newbies were added to the list of Social Network platforms: FourSquare, Jumo, Vimeo, Yelp, Picassa, Ning, Delicious, CrowdRise, FirstGiving, Razoo and Causes. FourSquare had the most substantive presence among the newcomers with 4% of nonprofits utilizing the platform.

Are Nonprofits Raising Money Via Social Networks?

While the number of organizations raising between $1 to $10K annually has risen each year from 38% in 2009 to 46% in 2011, the number of nonprofits raising $100,000 or more per year on social networks doubled this year to 0.4%, a very thin slice of the sector.

The study also highlighted "Master Social Fundraisers" which consisted of organizations that raised more than $100,000 on Facebook over the last year. It was a shock to see that 30% of these Master Fundraisers were considered small organizations. The average Facebook following of a Master Social Fundraiser is more than fifteen times the general average, at 100,000 fans. This isn't by luck, though. Of the Master Fundraisers, 30% dedicate at least 2 staff members to managing and fundraising their social media presence--compared to merely 2% for the rest of the industry. Though, it seems to be pretty unanimous across the board: 94% of organizations reported that they will keep their staffing allocations the same or increase them over the next twelve months.

More Interesting Data:

  • When looking at the nonprofits who have yet to establish a presence in the Social Media realm (10%), their main reasons for this were a lack of strategy, staff, expertise, and concerns for privacy and control.
  • Nearly all nonprofits have a commercial social network presence while only 13% of the surveyed organizations have a House Social Network: social networking communities created on a nonprofit’s own website (sometimes called private social networks).
  • As Craig Newmark reported in the craigconnects infographic, this report agrees that environmental and animal welfare organizations are utilizing social media the most efficiently.

This report shows that there is absolutely a correlation between the size of the organization and their social networking community. Naturally, it's easier for a larger organization to fund and train staff on the importance of engaging with social media. 

Looking at all of the data from this study, how do you think your nonprofits social media presence measured up?


Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.