November 9, 2011; Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Social media has become practically a necessity in the nonprofit world, for everything from outreach to fundraising. So what nonprofit issues are having the most success there?

Craig Newmark’s Craigconnect has released some fascinating infographics recently on nonprofits and social media, including a study on the top 50 nonprofits and how they use social media effectively. They judge “top” by budget expense size according to Charity Navigator”. This week Newmark did a follow up entitled “Who Rules Social Media? A Look At Media Impact by Nonprofit Issues” which looks at those top 50 and measures which topics seem to do best in social media realms.

In short the winners among the types of causes that do best are animals and the environment and they were really way out in front. These two categories were also the organizations that most frequently mentioned other users on Twitter, showing the effectiveness of engaging with your followers.

The following were the categories of causes measured against one another in descending order and the organizations in each category.

  • Animal – The Humane Society of the United States, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), MSPCA-Angell, Best Friends Animal Society, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
  • Children – World Vision, United States Fund for UNICEF, Compassion International, Save the Children, Boys Town
  • Cultural – Smithsonian Institution, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Public Library, Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
  • Disaster Relief – American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), PetSmart Charities, National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, Habitat for Humanity International, American Red Cross
  • Environment – The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, Conservation International, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environmental Defense Fund
  • Health – American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Alzheimer’s Association
  • Veterans & Military – Paralyzed Veterans of America, United Service Organizations (USO), Help Hospitalized Veterans, Wounded Warrior Project, Intrepid Museum
  • Women – CARE, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Pathfinder International, Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte

Craigconnect also went further to look into which of these organizations currently have employees with social media titles. There was only one nonprofit that did not have a full or part-time designated social media staff member. In the last year, the ASPCA has hired a full-time social media specialist and has seen significant growth, including an accumulation of 75,000 followers on Twitter. In other words, the statistics in this infographic indicate that if you are a large national organization dependent on a membership for money and mobilization it may be wise have someone involved in your organization that is focused on social media outreach.

Of course this look at causes and social media is limited by the small and select grouping of organizations  studied. But we’d love to hear your thoughts. -Aine Creedon