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How Charities Are Using Social Media

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Almost all (98%) of the biggest charities in the United States are using social media, and 97% are using some type of video to help inspire their audience, according to recent research conducted by Nora Ganim Barnes, PhD, at The Center for Marketing Research, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

The study included the charities on the 2013 Philanthropy 400 list, but not including colleges/universities, and was based on both an analysis of the social media presence of the organizations and on interviews with 129 social media administrators.

Below, key findings from the report.

Social Media Use and Trends

  • 72% of the organizations examined have a written social media policy for employees.
  • 81% cite awareness as their main objective online.
  • 89% write their own original content for their platforms.
  • 45% use social media tools to recruit and evaluate potential employees/volunteers.
  • 83% monitor the Internet for buzz, posts, conversations, and news about their organization.
  • YouTube/video platforms are the most widely used social media tool (97%), followed by Facebook (92%), Twitter (86%), and Pinterest (72%).


Facebook Fans and Engagement

  • National Public Radio has over 3.6 million fans on Facebook, the most of any organization examined, and over a million more than the second place US Olympic Committee.

  • National Public Radio also has the highest engagement on Facebook, with over 500,000 unique users posting to their news feeds about the organization in a seven-day period.

Twitter Followers and Engagement

  • Of the organizations studied, the Metropolitan Opera Association and the Wounded Warrior Project have the most Twitter followers, both with over 96,000.

  • Many of the charities studied are prolific tweeters. The Natural Resource Defense Council leads the way with over 39,000 total tweets. The Heritage Foundation is second with 37,300.

About the research: The study included the charities on the 2013 Philanthropy 400 list, but not including colleges/universities, and was based on an analysis of the social media presences of the organizations as well as interviews with 129 social media administrators.


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Ayaz Nanji is a digital strategy and content consultant. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. His experience includes working as a strategist and producer of digital content for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, and AOL.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by E Marketing Mantra Mon Jun 16, 2014 via web

    good and usefull knowledge for me ...................

  • by Kimmy Burgess Mon Jun 16, 2014 via web

    Hi Ayaz,

    This was very informative. A brief idea of charities connected with social areas and media is present. Good statistics.

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