Cultural Groups Have Biggest Facebook Audiences

Despite growth in Facebook audiences for nonprofits in 2019, only about 4 percent of the Facebook fans of a nonprofit’s page reached each organic post. Some 28 percent of the audience reached by a given post was not already following the nonprofit.

Nonprofit Facebook audiences grew by about 4 percent overall, according to the 2020 M+R Benchmarks Report. Hunger/poverty organizations stood out with a 12-percent increase, the only subsector to reach double digits. No other subsector eclipsed 5 percent while rights organizations were flat.

How those numbers and engagement scores might change amid recent calls for Facebook boycotts remains to be seen.

The 2020 M+R Benchmarks Report included 201 nonprofit participants, the largest pool in the study’s 14 years. In addition to social media, the report compiles and examines data on email messaging, fundraising, web engagement, text messages and digital advertising. Authors at the digital communications agency analyzed more than 8.7 million gifts, totaling $476 million raised online.

The overall Earned Reach Average -- the number of Facebook users reached by a given post relative to their audience size -- for an organic post was 0.091 - a 16-percent decline from 2018. Public media nonprofits reported an Earned Reach Average of 0.341 -- the highest by far of any subsector.

Engagement scores on Facebook were up 16 percent overall in 2019 but varied widely depending on the subsector. Wildlife/animal welfare scored the highest increase, 56 percent, followed by hunger/poverty, 38 percent, and health, 37 percent. Environmental organizations were up 9.5 percent but no other subsector was on the positive side in their engagement scores. Public media saw Facebook engagement scores crash by 54 percent while three other subsectors saw declines in the teens: cultural and international, both down 16 percent, and rights organizations, down 13 percent.

Public media was by far the most active on Facebook, averaging 4 posts per day compared with the overall average of 1.4. Rights organizations were second-highest at 1.7 posts, followed by environmental, 1.6. Hunger/poverty was the only subsector to post less than once per day, on average (0.8)

For every 1,000 email subscribers, nonprofits in the study had an average of 496 Facebook fans, 221 Twitter followers and 83 Instagram followers. Cultural organizations were far and away the largest Facebook following, with 1,796 fans. Far behind that figure were international organizations with 614, followed by environmental, 586; hunger/poverty, 561, and wildlife/animal welfare, 503.

Cultural organizations also had the largest group of followers by far on Instagram with 772. Hunger/poverty ranked second with 318, followed by international organizations, 183; environmental, 133, and rights organizations, 131. No other group had more than 100 followers on Twitter for every 1,000 email subscribers.

Cultural organizations had the most followers on Twitter: 488 for every 1,000 email subscribers but hunger/poverty organizations in this case were not far behind with 481, followed by international,  390, and public media, 309.