Infographic: How the Top 50 Nonprofits Do Social Media

I get asked a lot if nonprofits are using social media effectively. After taking a look at the Nonprofit Times list of 100 top nonprofits based on revenue, the craigconnects team decided to look at who was proactively and effectively utilizing social media in August and September of 2011. Do the highest revenue nonprofits use social media the most effectively? How are people responding and interacting? The deal is with social media use on the rise, we decided to check this out and created an infographic to show the results.

A few cool things we figured out:

•92% of the top 50 nonprofits have at least 1 social media presence on their homepage.
•The most followers that an organization has on Twitter is 840,653 (PBS)…
•…but on the other hand, the organization following the most people is following 200,522 (The American Cancer Society)!
•The American Red Cross was the first organization on the list to create a Twitter account.
•Food for the Poor is the most talkative organization on Facebook, and has posted 220 posts over the course of 2 months.
•The organization with the highest revenue, the YMCA, only posted 19 times to Facebook in 2 months, but has over 24,000 Fans.

Is it really first come, first serve? It took some organizations no time at all to jump on the social media bandwagon, as early as 2007, others were a little bit behind. So the question is, does that impact the number of followers they have? The slogan, quality over quantity seems rather fitting. For example, PBS has the most followers on Twitter but is in the bottom quarter bracket on the list of net income.

So you have friends, and you have followers. But what factors determine how often an organization’s Facebook post will generate a like or a comment? Can money buy engaged friends on social networks? We took a look at the average amount of responses (combined likes and comments) each organization was getting per post, and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital was definitely in the lead, yet ranked 29 on the revenue list.

For the record, we checked out their Twitter Grader score, which provided us with all the possible information we could need about their Twitter account. We discovered how many times they tweeted over the course of 2 months and took look at their Facebook standing: we utilized to capture the number of Facebook fans the nonprofit had, how many times they had posted over the course of 2 months (August 2011-September 2011), and the likes and comments they had received on their posts over that time period. It was these metrics that led us to determine just how efficiently the top 50 nonprofits utilize social media, and whether income actually has an effect.

The bottom line is that revenue does not increase a nonprofit’s visibility and interactions in the social media world. Some of the most social media savvy organizations are in the bottom quarter bracket in terms of revenue, yet they are clearly active on social media. Social media is about fostering conversations and interactions. These are the keys to keeping up in the fast-paced arena of social networks.

*Note this blog post was updated October 28, 2011 to reflect that the nonprofits listed were ranked by revenue not net income. The data was not changed by this update.

0 thoughts on “Infographic: How the Top 50 Nonprofits Do Social Media

  1. Thanks for this great post! I think that there are some important distinctions to be made between organizations with the highest income and those with the highest brand recognition. Obviously it’s much easier for well-known orgs to build a following, regardless of income.

    Similarly, I think it’s important to distinguish between using social media efficiently and using it effectively. As the post so correctly states, social media is about fostering interactions and discussion, and this usually takes more time.

    Just like with overall organizational effectiveness, efficiency should only be measured as one piece of a larger analysis regarding how effectively the organization influences its online communities to interaction and, hopefully, action.

    It would be interesting to do the converse analysis of the most active nonprofits on social media, and check out their income levels.


  2. Great infographic! I was thinking exactly what Shari suggests — to see the income level of the most engaged nonprofits in social media and how it compares would be fascinating.

    I also liked your “like” strategy of having the infographic only viewable by your fans. Nice tactic 🙂


  3. This is terrific info but I have 1 Really Big clarification to suggest. The infographic uses several financial words incorrectly and this is misleading.
    “Highest earning” and “Revenue” and “Budget” and “Net Income” and “Income” are not the same, in any sense. They are not the same to donors, to those who work in the nonprofit sector, to those who are nonprofit board members or volunteers, to the accounting, financial or legal profession, or to the IRS. The words are not interchangeable.

    “For the Record” … the Nonprofit Times report ranks the top 100 by Revenue. Period. (see the line at the bottom of the page: “ranked by revenue.” The kind folks at NPT would probably prefer their data to be accurately used.

    The dollar figures in the infographic appear to be based on Revenue (I spot checked a few). This is not budget, earnings, net income or income. Everywhere the terms are misused should be corrected.

    Just for example, for FY2009 the nonprofit “Feeding America” had $607 million of total revenue (as the chart shows), and spent $624 million so the net income was $-16,924,507. They lost money in 2009 so their net income was negative. Their “earnings” were negative, though they had both Earned and Contributed revenues. Their “budget” was probably none of the above figures. (I randomly picked that one, sorry to point out their loss).

    Look forward to a version of this that is corrected. I agree with the commenter that it would be interesting to look at it from the other direction to see who are the most active/engaged nonprofits on social media and then see if there’s correlation with revenue size, or at least to identify several outliers (e.g., who are the nonprofits that have built a huge social following but are not in the top 100 and what can we learn about that?).

    Happy to answer any questions.


  4. based on your findings, can one make the argument then that the organizations with the most social media presence but lowest income aren’t necessarily getting any action from their fans in terms of conversations, meaning donations??


Comments are closed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: