More than half of not-for-profit groups to spend more on social media, says Blackbaud report

A little over half of not-for-profit organisations plan to increase their social media budget in 2015, after 62 per cent added staff or responsibilities that focused on social media last year.

That’s according to new research that indicates not-for-profit groups continue to believe they struggle to use social media effectively.

A survey of 423 not-for-profit professionals across the UK and Ireland pointed to significant growth in the use of social media, with 96 per cent of organisations using them in 2014 against 80 per cent in 2013.

When asked whether their social media efforts had been successful, nearly 40 per cent rated themselves a seven or higher on a scale of one to 10. However, a greater number said their efforts were "not successful at all" (seven per cent) compared to those that saw efforts as "very successful" (two per cent).

The majority rated themselves "less than successful," indicating that expectations may be higher than results when it comes to social media impact, the report says.

Overall, 24 per cent of organisations said they had increased their social media budget in 2014, and more than twice that proportion (53 per cent) plan to do so in 2015.

Nearly two thirds of respondents (62 per cent) said they had added staff roles or responsibilities that focus on social media efforts in the last year, with 19 per cent planning to do this over the current year.

The research, included in the 2014 State of the Not-for-Profit Industry report from Blackbaud, also highlighted a growing desire to track the success of social media efforts. Thirty four per cent used specific metrics to do this last year, and 36 per cent plan to do so in 2015.

In addition, 55 per cent plan to buy technology to better monitor what’s being said about an organisation this year.

Facebook and Twitter remain the most widely used social media sites, used by 88 per cent and 85 per cent of respondents respectively, numbers that have changed little in the past year.

Linkedin was next on 48 per cent, followed by YouTube (43 per cent), Google+ (16 per cent), Flicker (12 per cent), Pinterest (11 per cent), Instagram (10 per cent) and Foursquare (one per cent).

The report says: "Facebook was again popular with not-for-profits, as it is viewed to have the largest supporter reach. Respondents shared that it is the best place to engage with supporters because so many of them are on the social channel, which provides the ability to share multiple content types.

"Respondents frequently noted that Twitter provided quick and easy opportunities for broad reach and communication, while Linkedin was favoured by some for its ability to connect more individually with supporters."

The study indicated a potential shift towards greater numbers of social media sites used per organisation.

The percentage of organisations using one to three sites decreased in 2014, while the percentages for four or more sites increased. The number of organisations that used five or more social media sites increased approximately 10 per cent.

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