Third sector embraces social media, but lacks confidence: Report

By Chris Lee

Not-for-profit organisations in the UK and Ireland are making more widespread use of social media than ever before, according to a new report. However, the annual “State of the Not-for-Profit Industry” (SONI) report for 2013 by Blackbaud, a provider of software and services for not-for-profits, also found that many practitioners appear to lack confidence with social media, with around half of respondents rating their ability to use social media effectively at six out of ten or less.

The SONI study also indicates that not-for-profits are addressing this issue. More than a quarter (27 per cent) has increased social budgets this year, with a further 22 per cent set to do so in the next 12 months.

A barometer of social media in the Third Sector

The annual report, which surveyed nearly 600 not-for-profit professionals working for UK and Ireland-based organisations, discovered that more than 80 per cent of respondents used some form of social media over the past year, with Facebook (87 per cent) and Twitter (84 per cent) being the two most popular for communicating with supporters.

Not-for-profits also appear to be planning to expand their digital marketing teams. Two thirds (63 per cent) plan to add staff roles or responsibilities for social media and 40 per cent are now adding specific metrics to measure the success of social media campaigns.

The use of mobile in not-for-profit marketing

Last year’s SONI study predicted significant growth in the use of mobile and the 2013 results confirmed this continuing development, with not-for-profits reporting growth in every category of mobile technology use included. Last year, one-third of those surveyed used text-giving, but this figure has risen sharply to 49 per cent in 2013, with a further 22 per cent planning to do so over the next 12 months.

Having a mobile-ready website or app is also a key consideration. The amount of not-for-profit websites designed for mobile browsing increased from 28 per cent in 2012 to 35 per cent in 2013. The use of optimised email messages for mobile also increased from 20 per cent in 2012 to 35 per cent in 2013.

Quick Response (QR) code use is also on the rise – last year just one in ten not-for-profits used this mobile technology, but in 2013, 25 per cent are using QR codes.

“Social media is a potentially powerful fundraising tool for not-for-profits and is already a hugely effective way of communicating with supporters,” said Martin Campbell, Blackbaud Europe’s director of strategy and innovation. “However, the SONI results suggest that many not-for-profits are still not confident in their use of social media, lacking overall strategy and the resources to implement it. Using social media to update supporters is great, but not-for-profits need to figure out how best to use it to build the long-term relationships that are so important to future mission success.”

The full report can be downloaded here:

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