Nonprofit ‘Defenders’ Dominate Coverage

Disasters, celebrities, reports, events, and, of course, President Donald Trump, drove coverage of nonprofits in the media last year, according to a new study. On average, nonprofits secured almost nine articles per week in the media. Some garnered significantly more coverage.

Mediamarks 2019 by consulting firm M+R compiled 2018 media hits of 60 nonprofits across six sectors in 60 influential media outlets through a comprehensive search of Muck Rack.

The report even coined a sector of its own, The Defenders, made up of organizations that provide legal services and protect civil liberties across sectors, including cultural, environment, health, international and social services. Defenders dominated news coverage relative to the overall average, garnering more than 1,000 news articles, an average of almost 20 per week. International (559) and environment (509) were the only other sectors that bested the average 456 stories and eclipsed 500 on the year.

The top driver of articles across sectors typically was the president, with highs of 28.6 percent among Defenders and 22 percent among environment. In other sectors, such as international and social services, disasters (27.3 percent) and celebrities (20.5 percent), respectively, clearly were the top drivers of articles.

Almost 40 percent of the approximately 30,000 articles included in the study originated from 16 percent of organizations examined.

Nonprofits with larger budgets outperformed media results of small to mid-sized nonprofits. In nearly half the sectors, a medium-sized organization got more coverage than large organizations. Average annual coverage for small nonprofits was 409 compared with twice that, 961, for large nonprofits. Medium sized organizations fared better within health, cultural and environmental sectors.

Organizational awareness was the most common outcome of the new stories read, as opposed to advocacy or fundraising. Almost four out of five of the most shared articles analyzed fell into awareness-raising category.

A certain sector’s social media shares of new stories don’t always correlate with the number of stories they secure. Despite having the least amount of coverage, the social services sector outperformed others in social media shares per article.

When it came to sharing articles on social media, social services had the highest average Facebook shares by sector, at 2,675, even more than Defenders, which logged 2,342. This year, 35 stories surpassed 200,000 shares on Facebook, compared with only nine in 2017. The most shared story in Mediamarks 2019 was the U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which was shared 967,657 times via Facebook.

“Even if your nonprofit is far smaller than the ones in this study, looking at what the leaders in your sector are doing helps provide valuable lessons about what you need to do to be on that same path,” according to the report.