Survey Report Perspectives: Social Media Predicted as Top Growth Area for Nonprofits of All Sizes
Nonprofits have responded to a long list of events and opportunities over the past couple of years, and sometimes it’s seemed like the only constant has been change. Because we know many nonprofits are now re-evaluating their strategic plans and priorities for the future, we surveyed Digital and Development professionals from select nonprofits to understand their priorities over the next several years and discover more ways to meet their needs. One of our top-line findings? Over the next 3-5 years, most nonprofits predict they’ll see the most growth in their social media channels—but what does this mean for different sizes of nonprofits? Let’s dig in.
One of five questions we posed to our nonprofit audience asked about their predictions for growth among the different supporter engagement channels.
Over the next 3–5 years, our nonprofit predicts the channel in which we will see the greatest donor and supporter growth is:
A. Direct Mail
C. Other (please specify)
Across segments, most respondents predicted that the channel where they would see the greatest donor and supporter growth over the next 3–5 years was in social media, at nearly 40 percent of responses. Email, too, was a popular response, at nearly 30 percent.
These top two choices add up to approximately 70 percent of responses, and these results demonstrate that nonprofits predict digital engagement will be important for the future.
Across segments, the least popular choices were phone (2 percent) and direct mail (4 percent). We already know that “door mat donors,” or direct mail only donors, are increasingly living their lives across channels—and that’s a phenomenon that predates the wave of relocations we saw due to the pandemic.
Interestingly, only 6 percent of organizations as a whole predicted they’d see the most growth in SMS as a channel. We can see that these results vary by organization size, but we know SMS is on the rise, generally speaking, because of its immediacy and generally high open rates.
Analysis by Organization Size
Small organizations’ most popular choice was social, and their second most popular response was open-ended. We know small organizations often use creative solutions to meet their needs, and some of their ideas included focusing on high net worth donor relationships, video, events, and even breaking into TikTok! In contrast, one option small organizations didn’t choose was SMS, which could be a result of limited staff bandwidth. Ultimately, small organizations know it’s all about reaching the right audience, with the right message, at the right time.
Medium organizations’ top 2 choices mirrored the group as a whole: the most popular option was social, and the second most popular choice was email. However, 12 percent gave open-ended responses, and those included peer-to-peer fundraising and one-on-one fundraising both virtually and in person. This personalized approach reflects the renewed focus on connection that many of us are feeling as we move into end-of-year 2021, and reinforces the need to see all your supporter data in one place to track your donors’ journeys accurately and efficiently.
Large organizations’ top two choices, like other segments, were social and email—these choices made up over 50 percent of responses. However, large organizations distinguished themselves as a segment by the 24 percent who chose open-ended responses and the 12 percent who chose SMS. Most large organizations’ open-ended responses referenced events, whether in person, virtual, or hybrid. This segment may have the staff bandwidth to build an SMS program, or take on another initiative like events, and use that data well thanks to support from a unified or highly-integrated platform.
Organizations of all sizes who are focused on list growth and who predict seeing the most growth in social media will need strategies for nurturing the supporters they acquire in that channel — a CRM with integrated social media capabilities and multi-channel automation can offer an efficient way to make sure those supporters receive the right stewarding messages, in the right channels, at the right time.