Mini-Trends in Social Media Use in Advancement


The Third Annual Survey of Social Media in Advancement conducted by The Council for Advancement and  Support of Education (CASE),  Michael Stoner, and Slover Linett Strategies indicates college advancement offices are becoming much more comfortable with social media as a tool for outreach and engagement – and even a little fundraising.  The report presents the results of their most recent survey on social media use by institutions and was conducted electronically with a random sample of members of CASE.

Some findings:

  • The main goal ( in use of social media is alumni engagement (reported by 83 percent of respondents)
  • Facebook is used by nearly every institution surveyed (reported by 96 percent)
  • Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube experienced a reported increase in use, and 50 percent of responding institutions were integrating social media into their campaigns
  • Less than a quarter (just under 22 percent) of respondents consider their social media efforts “very successful”


Additional discussion on notable changes in the role of social media in advancement since their first survey in 2010, and case studies on crowdsourcing, alumni events and a little friendly rivalry among college fundraising campaigns are included in the report –  available online at the Slover Linnett website.

Nonprofits: Yes to Facebook & Twitter, Blogging…Not so Much

The latest snapshot of nonprofit social media use and strategy comes from a recently released report from Sage, a company specializing in software solutions for business and nonprofits.  According to first quarter data from their Nonprofit Insights 2012 survey, the majority of nonprofit organizations used social media (84 percent) and reported that that it was important to their organization’s overall mission (75 percent), with 46 percent indicating satisfaction with their social media outcomes.

Other key findings include,

  • The top 3 social media sites among those surveyed were Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
  • Just over 1/3 (35 percent) of survey participants used a tool  to manage their multiple social media accounts
  • 71 percent of the nonprofits surveyed indicated that public relations or creating “buzz” was their primary reason for using social media
  • Determination  of social media “success” was often through the number of  social media clicks, friends or followers (reported by 61 percent of participating nonprofits), although 17 percent link it to the amount of  dollars raised
  • Less than 1/3 (29 percent) of nonprofits blog

Download the report Sage Nonprofit Insights, Q1 2012 Social Media Study for additional survey data as well as social media tips for nonprofits.

Nonprofits and Social Media – No End in Sight

Backlash and second-guessing aside, social media use among nonprofits shows no signs of trailing off. In fact, some organizations are taking it to the next level by building their own online communities.

In early 2011, over 11,000 nonprofits participated in a social network usage survey sponsored by NTEN, Common Knowledge and Blackbaud. The respondents were asked about their use of social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare, etc, as well as their own “house” social networks.

Results of the 2011 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Survey indicate that social media use by nonprofits continues to grow, with 92 percent using at least one public social network (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube). Nearly 90 percent of nonprofits reported having a presence on Facebook, with 57 percent of agencies on Twitter and 47 percent on YouTube. Over half (58 percent) of the nonprofits using social media are measuring their reach and engagement levels, while 9 percent calculate the financial impact.

Nonprofits without a presence on any social network claim a lack of strategy (60 percent), lack of budget (57 percent) and lack of expertise (36 percent) as the top three reasons why they have not yet adopted this marketing/fundraising approach.

The study has loads of interesting data, especially on the use of private social networks – communities hosted on a nonprofit’s own website – with 13 percent of respondents running these “house” networks. Are they the next step in nonprofit online engagement? Copies of the report are available for download at the survey website.

Social Media Strategies from the Occupy Movement

Regardless of your opinion of its purpose or participants, there are some lessons to be taken from the grassroots, decentralized, “leaderless” Occupy moment’s messaging and outreach tactics. Social media played an enormous role not only in connecting the various Occupy camps that popped up in cities across the nation but in bringing them to the attention of the media and eventually the general public.

Below is an interview from October with a social media star (@grimwomyn) in the Occupy movement (from the fundraisinginfo Youtube channel) that is worth a listen, especially if you are with a fledgling nonprofit looking at how to best leverage a small staff and an even smaller budget to engage with your audience. This is a fascinating case study of sorts that nonprofits should be paying attention to.

A point that has stayed with me since I watched the video a week or so ago was one @grimwomyn made about measurement on the fly. While they were not collecting social media metrics at the time, Occupy was paying attention to what was “out there” because, “Ultimately, the way anything online is happening now – you’re only as good as the people who are talking about you and what they are saying.” Which leads me to wonder: how many nonprofits report all sorts of social media metrics to leadership each quarter but couldn’t tell you what was being said about them online just this week?