Nonprofits Ahead of the Curve Using Social Media

The U.S.’s largest nonprofit organizations are using social media more than any other sector. Ninety-three percent of the top US charities now have a Facebook profile, 87% have a Twitter presence, and 65% have a blog. These were among the top findings of the latest study led by Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Research Chair of the Society for New Communications Research and Chancellor Professor of Marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Eric Mattson, CEO of Financial Insite Inc., a Seattle-based research firm.

The report is the outcome of a study of the nation’s 200 largest charities in the United States based on a list compiled annually by Forbes magazine. The study examined these institutions to quantify their adoption of social media tools and technologies. This is the third year that Barnes and Mattson have tracked social media adoption by the nonprofit sector.

In 2007, the first study of this group’s use of social media was released. It revealed that these large nonprofits were leading large and small businesses as well as universities in their familiarity with, usage of, monitoring and attitude toward social media. One year later, in 2008, the second study showed that they led in knowledge, adoption and positive attitude about the importance of social media. This new research shows that these charitable organizations are still outpacing the business world and academia in their use of social media. The latest study (conducted with the 2009 Forbes list) reveals that 97% of charitable organizations are using some form of social media, including blogs, podcasts, message boards, social networking, video blogging, wikis and Twitter.

The study’s other key findings include:

  • The largest US nonprofit organizations continue to outpace businesses and even academic institutions in their familiarity, use and monitoring activity.
  • The nonprofit sector is connected and prepared to use social media to react quickly, as evidenced by responses to recent disasters.

A full copy of the research report is available for download.