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Charities embrace social media

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PJ staff report

Among 76 organizations responding to a survey of the 200 largest U.S. charities based on a listed compiled annually by Forbes magazine, 65 percent are blogging and 42 percent report social media are very important to their fundraising strategy.

“While these organizations are best known for their nonprofit status and their fundraising campaigns, they demonstrate an acute, and still growing, awareness of the importance of Web 2.0 strategies in meeting their objectives,” says the report by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

The share of charities using some form of social media, known as Web 2.0, is up 8 percentage points and 22 percentage points, respectively, from similar studies in 2008 and 2007.

In contrast to the share of nonprofits that are blogging, the study says, 22 percent of Fortune 500 companies are blogging and 45 percent of college and university admissions departments have blogs.

While video blogging was the fastest-growing social media tool between 2007 and 2008, the study says, the use of video fell in 2009, while the use of social networking and Twitter dominated nonprofits’ use of social media.

Ninety-three percent of nonprofits say they regularly monitor social media, up 18 percentage points from the study a year earlier.

In contrast, 73 percent of U.S. colleges and universities monitor online buzz about their school, and 68 percent of Inc. 500 companies monitor their brands or company, the study says.

Google alerts are the most popular automated searches among those nonprofits.

“The largest U.S. nonprofit organizations continue to outpace businesses dn even academic institutions in their familiarity, use and monitoring activity,” Nora Ganim Barnes, who co-led the study and is a professor of marketing at UMass Dartmouth, says in a statement. “These top organizations have found a new and exciting way to engage employees, volunteers and donors.”

Eric Mattson, the study’s other co-leader and CEO of Financial Insite, a Seattle-based research firm, says in a statement that the nonprofit sector is “connected and prepared to use social media to react quickly, as evidenced by responses to recent disasters.”

Nonprofits “have truly embraced social media tools in a way no sector has,” he says.

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