Nonprofits are expanding the number of supporters they draw on Facebook, Twitter, and others social networks, all without spending much more money to attract attention, a new study finds.
The average nonprofit’s Twitter page increased its follower count 81 percent in the past year, from 1,822 to 3,290. Groups also added more Facebook followers by 30 percent, from an average of 6,376 in 2011 to 8,317 in 2012.
This year’s findings, from the fourth annual report by the Nonprofit Technology Network, the fundraising-software company Blackbaud, and the consulting company Common Knowledge, were based on data from 3,522 nonprofits. It was released to coincide with the Nonprofit Technology conference that opened in San Francisco Tuesday.
For the first time, the study attempted to quantify the return on investment per social- media follower.
The study found that the average nonprofit spends $2.05 to earn one Twitter follower and $3.50 per Facebook ‘like.’ Those groups that use direct mail and e-mail solicitations to follow up with Facebook fans earn $214.81 per fan over 12 months, but groups that seek money only online from social-network followers raise $161.30 per person.
While measuring results in terms of donations is important to some charities, only 3 in 10 nonprofits say the fundraising revenue was an important way to evaluate their success on social networks. And the authors of the report said that finding good ways to measure the results in dollar terms was tough to calculate accurately.
Among the other key findings:
* About 8 percent of organizations dedicated more than one full-time staff member to social media, while 46 percent spent nothing.
* The number of groups that dedicated up to half of a full-time employee’s hours to garnering attention on social media decreased slightly this year, from 72 percent to 69 percent.
* About 55 percent of nonprofits said they had no plans to change how much time they asked staff members to devote to social media.
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