Non-profit Social Media – Misleading Report on Philanthropy.com website

Posted on December 7, 2009. Filed under: Fundraising, Leadership, Non-profits |

NON-PROFIT SOCIAL MEDIA –
MISLEADING REPORT ON CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY WEBSITE.

One of the major websites in the non-profit world is http://www.philanthropy.com and generally they do an excellent job of creating and posting good content, as well as having links to many non-profit blogs. However, in a current special report about “Ten Emerging Forces in 2010” there is an extremely misleading piece about the use and prevalence of social media by non-profits.

In the tenth section of the report, called “A Stalled Online Revolution”, this statement is made:
“A wave of experimentation. A survey of 200 nonprofit groups by Weber Shandwick, a public-relations company, found that 51 percent of charities are regularly using Twitter and other social-media tools, while 85 percent said they plan to use them more frequently.”

The implication is that these statistics are true for the entire non-profit sector and that is patently false. I can’t tell if the misrepresentation is just from the Philanthropy.com report, or also from the company that conducted the survey. What’s missing, but is included in the survey research methodology section (and I thank them for including that), is that Weber Shandwick only surveyed non-profits that had a budget of $1 million or more. This is like surveying only millionaires about how hard the recession is affecting them. It might produce some interesting anecdotes but the information has no validity beyond that.

Using data from the National Center on Charitable Statistics, (table below) non-profits with a budget of more than $1 million account for only 6.8 percent of all public charities in the U.S. Both organizations need to be more forthcoming in the fact that this survey contains only data from the biggest of the big and not pretend that it’s an accurate picture of the entire non-profit world. I’m sure that many smaller non-profits are using social media, which is great, but this survey did not include any small non-profits at all which actually make up 92.8 percent of the non-profits in US. The percentages below show the number of public charities by total revenue.

Level of Total Revenue Number of Registered Organizations
A. Less than $100,000 760,111 79.40%
B. $100,000-249,999 64,088 6.70%
C. $250,000-499,999 38,491 4.00%
D. $500,000-999,999 29,900 3.10%

E. $1-5 mil. 41,060 4.30%
F. $5-10 mil. 9,490 1.00%
G. $10-100 mil. 11,995 1.30%
H. More than $100 mil. 2,155 0.20%

Total 957,290 100.00%

Regards,
Bill Huddleston

P.S. I have just about finished updating my CFC Special report for 2010, please go to cfcfundraising.com and request it, it will be sent soon.
Thanks very much!

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