As social media networks began to shed their limited niche appeal and were embraced by the general public, many businesses began to take note and quickly followed suit, using the sites as an effective networking and marketing tool. But for-profit corporations and businesses aren’t the only ones who realized the marketing potential of social media. As the recently released “4th Annual Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report – 2012” from NTEN, Common Knowledge and Blackbaud shows, nonprofits have also found success using social media to promote awareness and raise funds for their causes. Below are some key findings from the report that show how nonprofits are using social media effectively.

General Trends

  • According to the report, 93% of nonprofits are currently using social media marketing on commercial social networks (as opposed to private, in-house social networks) as part of their strategy. This number is relatively stable, increasing only 1% over 2011. The leading role of these social media efforts is marketing, with 93% of companies using the sites for this purpose, followed by fundraising at 55%.
  • Nonprofits are also increasing their staffing “budgets” and allocation of resources; 89% of respondents indicated that they dedicate some staff time to social networking efforts, up from 86% in 2011.
  • This is a trend that looks like it will continue, as 42% reported that they will increase staffing, 55% will remain the same. These numbers are nearly identical to last year’s report, indicating slow but constant growth.
  • According to the report, nonprofits have concluded from their experiences that the top three factors in succeeding on social networks are: developing a strategy (41%), prioritization by executive management (37%), and having a dedicated social media staff (28%).
  • More nonprofits are budgeting funds for social media marketing – 54% responded that they have some budget allocated, up from 52% in 2011 and 47% in 2010.


  • The average size of respondents’ Facebook communities grew by 30%, with a reported average of 8,317 members compared to last year’s average community size of 6,376.
  • But community membership isn’t the only metric that saw significant growth. In 2011, 89% of respondents who use commercial social media networks indicated that they maintain an active Facebook presence. This year, that number rose to 98%, showing that nonprofits are rapidly adopting Facebook as part of their marketing and outreach strategy.
  • One reason for this widespread use is the ROI many of the responding nonprofits saw on their investment in Facebook marketing. The average cost of a “Like” – the investment required to gain a follower – was reported to be $3.50. However, the average value of a Facebook “Like” over the 12 months following acquisition? $214.81 in revenue from a supporter over those 12 months.
  • Of the 42% of respondents who indicated that they are fundraising – whether through directly soliciting donations or promoting memberships – on Facebook, 3% raised more than $10,000 over the past 12 months. That number is up from 2% last two years, and just 1% in 2009.
  • How are nonprofits using Facebook to raise funds? The most common fundraising tactic on Facebook is asking for an individual gift (soliciting Facebook supporters for individual donations), followed by event fundraising.


  • Facebook isn’t the only social networking site that is seeing rapid adoption by nonprofits. This year, 72% of respondents who use commercial social media networks have a Twitter presence. That’s a substantial increase over 2011’s response of just 57%. The average Twitter community size has also seen a large increase, growing 81% from 1,822 to 3,290 over the course of a year.
  • One reason for the growth in interest might be that Twitter followers are somewhat cheaper to obtain than Facebook fans, with an average reported cost of $2.05 per user.

Other Social Media Networks 

  • While Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social media sites for nonprofits, they’re far from the only ones used, with smaller, up-and-coming, and niche networks having an impact.
  • Of the respondents who use commercial social media networks, 23% reported having a presence on Google+, with average of 47 members in community.
  • Nonprofits’ numbers on LinkedIn are relatively low, at 44%, but are growing steadily – up from 30% in 2011.
  • Foursquare is still “niche”, with 8% using it, but the location-based social network is also growing in popularity. Last year, only 4% of respondents reported having a presence on the network.
  • However, if there’s a dark-horse newcomer to look out for, it may be Pinterest. Though the relatively young site was not listed in the survey, it was the only newcomer mentioned.

Source: MarketingZen

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