Posted November 15, 2007 12:15 pm by with 9 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Charities are often more savvy than businesses when it comes to using social media – especially blogging. The Center for Marketing Research looked at the top 200 largest US charities as defined by Forbes Magazine. They found that seventy-five percent of the charities are using some form of social media.

Social media specifically refers to blogging, podcasting, using message boards, social networking, video blogging and wikis. 46% of the charities report that social media is a key part of the organizations fund raising efforts (though they do not measure success by numbers – they seem to use the tools more for branding purposes).

Social media is an effective way to increase awareness of their missions and helps them connect with their constituencies. The research did not trace how this affected donations because the organizations mainly used it to build community and foster their online presence.

The findings came from the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. They conducted a nationwide telephone survey of nonprofits named by Forbes Magazine to their list of the 200 largest US charities for 2006 under the direction of researchers Eric Mattson and Nora Ganim Barnes. Seventy-six of the charities gave detailed interviews.

The charities are especially outpacing businesses when it comes to podcasting and though less utilize video, the ones who are use it heavily. They are also blogging. Charities blog at a higher rate than businesses on the Fortune and Inc. 500 lists, with more than a third of the organizations. Compare that to just 8% of Fortune 500 businesses and 19% of businesses on the Inc. 500 list.

I did a little research myself and found that the number one charity (measured by revenue) is the Mayo Clinic which maintains two blogs—including a blog on stress. Maybe some of usought to add that to our list of RSS feeds ;).

The United Way has three blogs as well as blogs at regional offices I didn’t find blogs for the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, or Habitat for Humanity (however they do link to blogs written by others associated with their organization). The ones I looked at didn’t seem to be utilizing social bookmarking or advanced functionality on their blogs.

See the full report in part three of the three-part series:

  • I think this is a measure of passion, don’t you?

  • Janet Meiners

    Actually my take on it is that it’s a low cost way to get the word out. Also, nonprofits often have stories to tell, which lends well to blogging. The stories usually have a lot of human interest and even emotional impact.

    It may not be as obvious to businesses how a blog can benefit them. Then there is the legal department. I recommend business blogs for SEO but they can also be great at sharing info and developments in a conversational way (as Dell does well, and of course, Google). is an example of utilizing blogs for SEO and this strategy can really help in PPC spend.


  • Hi Janet,
    This is Wendy from the American Red Cross. We actually learn a lot from reading all the blogs that mention the Red Cross every day.

    We recently started several social media initiatives. I’ve pasted a couple of examples below.

    Red Cross Chat:

    Flickr Group:

    Thanks for pointing out how bleeding edge we nonprofits are, and thanks for the opportunity to share.

  • Pingback: Advice Network Founders Blog» Blog archives » What do nonprofits know that we don’t?()

  • Every day our society becomes more social aware, that me be the reason.

  • I was glad to see the Red Cross posting here. I actually used one of their photo groups from Flickr as an example in a recent presentation I did on Learning 2.0 (social media + e-learning). Slides available at . This also has a number of other examples of how nonprofits are making use of social media.

  • Ryan Jensen

    You talk about the United Way having three blogs, but two of them have not been updated in six months! The majority of Habitat for Humanity’s blogs haven’t been updated in over a year! That can’t be a good showing for blogs.

  • Pingback: If they’re doing it why not you? | AccMan()

  • Pingback: How to start social media in your organization | SocialMedia404()