engagement, social media strategy, website innovation

Survey Shows Engaged Americans Talk Online, and Want To Know More

16 Comments 25 September 2009

Image courtesy of Brande Jackson

Image courtesy of Brande Jackson

In nonprofit engagement, there are two sides of the social media conversation. On one side, organizations use social media to initiate conversations with existing donors, generate buzz and find new stakeholders. The other side of the conversation happens on the stakeholder end. Donors (and other stakeholders such as volunteers, members, participants) check out your organization online for more information, or to get involved more deeply. Most nonprofits approach social media strategy from just one side of what I call the “social media relationship.” Just as a nonprofit wants to publish its news online and converse with stakeholders, donors want to know more about and engage with nonprofit organizations online. A relatively new Harris Poll of nonprofit stakeholders offers insight into the stakeholder side of the social media relationship.

In March 2009, a Harris Poll of “engaged Americans” (defined as those who have volunteered, donated or advocated in the past year) revealed surprising results.

1. They are talking about your organization to others
61% of those adults polled have recommended a nonprofit they support to someone else. In particular, the Harris Poll results reveals that they are speaking to them about your mission (78%), achievements (53%), opportunities to donate (42%), and opportunities to volunteer (35%). They are be speaking because they care. They are also speaking about your organization because they are engaged.

2. They want to be more involved, and many don’t know how
A summary of the Poll results states that “nearly two-thirds of engaged adults would like to become more involved with the nonprofit or charity they support the most. And, while the most common reason for not actually doing more, cited by 51%, is lack of time, roughly one in ten simply don’t know where to begin.”

3. They want to follow the social media activities of your organization
64% of respondents stated that it is important for non-profits to use social media to communicate with supporters . 47% say they would be interested in keeping up with the non-profits they care about through social media. In other words, engaged Americans want nonprofits to communicate with them through social media and almost half want to actively follow your organization’s social media activities.

Engaged Americans want to keep up with nonprofits through social media because they want to be more involved.

When they are involved, engaged Americans take action as a result of using social media!

Astoundingly, 80% of engaged Americans have taken action “as a result of something they read in a nonprofit of charitable organization’s blog, RSS feed or social networking site.

That’s huge! The chart below illustrates how engaged Americans have taken action:

Engaged Americans Taking Action

I’ve written down a few starter questions that might help you to engage stakeholders online. I’m sure there are more!

•    Is your nonprofit active in the same social networks as your donors?
•    Are your social media profiles displayed prominently throughout your website?
•    Does your e-newsletter include automatically hyperlink URLs to your  social media sites? Do you provide hyperlinks to take action?
•    Is there an easy way to donate online through both the website and other online social spaces?
•    Are there easy ways your stakeholders can help you achieve your mission online: signing an online petition, voting for an award, sending a letter to a legislator, signing up to volunteer
•    Is it easy to RSVP to an event online, and pass the event along?
•    Do you have “share” buttons next to the mission, achievements, and volunteer opportunities on your website or blog?
Which nonprofits are really giving engaged Americans opportunities to interact and share on the website and in their social spaces? Do you have other starter questions to add to this list?

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Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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