nonprofit resources, technology

Looking Backwards and Forwards: 2012 and 2013 Nonprofit Technology Use

2 Comments 20 December 2012

Image courtesy of Kevin Oberhauser, Creative Commons license

Image courtesy of Kevin Oberhauser, Creative Commons license

I love looking back on the year in nonprofit technology and thinking about what it has brought us, and what we can learn from it.

I feel like 2012 was the year when nonprofits working with social media began to realize in large number these ways of thinking and working:

  • Broad acceptance of social media as a required communication tool
  • The need to begin measuring something in social media communication practice
  • The realization that personal and professional boundaries are blurring, have blurred, and in some cases, are best when blurred
  • The necessity to work “In the Cloud” for organizational efficiency, collaboration, and results
  • Experimentation with social media: it’s not just a tool, but a tool to have fun with!
  • The role of social media for amplifying fundraising efforts

I’m sure there are a lot more, and I’d love to hear your additions in the comments.

There were some fabulous reports produced in 2012 as well, that inform and offer data for some of the social media and fundraising activities nonprofits are engaging in, such as those listed above. Here are some of the best reports I read from 2012:

The Nonprofit Social Media Policy Workbook, by Idealware and Balance Interactive and its companion workbook, The Social Media Policy Workbook for Jewish Organizations by Darim Online. I reviewed the Social Media Policy Workbook earlier this year.

The 2012 Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits, by Idealware. From their website: “The new edition covers nearly 70 types of software, from association management to wikis and everything in between. We tell you what’s available, what it can do for you, how you might use it, who the most common vendors are, and what you can expect to pay.”

The 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, by M & R Research Labs and NTEN.  This annual study is packed with the latest survey data from nonprofits around how they are using online messaging, fundraising, advocacy, mobile communications, and social media. The 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study Extra: Facebook is also jam-packed with Facebook trends, benchmarks and uses, which I highlighted in my summary of the report.

Why Facebook Users Get More Than They Give, by Pew Internet and American Life Project. This analysis of Facebook power users and their role on Facebook was one of the more fascinating studies I read this year.

The 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmarks Report by NTEN benchmarks the size of commercial and in-house social networks, the cost of acquiring a Facebook fan, the types of social networks nonprofits are active in, their perception of effectiveness and ROI. A definite “must read.”

The Online Life in Pictures by the Pew Internet and American Life Project is a first look at the activities of video and photo creators and curators on social networks. I summarized the study and offered my analysis about the explosion of video and photo earlier this year.

Real Time Charitable Giving by the Pew Internet and American Life Project is the first-ever study on mobile donors, with heavy analysis of the “Text to Haiti” campaign.

The 2012 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, by Kivi Leroux Miller, looks at the big six communications tools nonprofits are using, how they are using it, and how they proactively plan for use.

The 2012 Nonprofit Donor Engagement Study, by NTEN and Charity Dynamics. This study offers data about donors’ preferences regarding traditional and digital media for donating, volunteering, and engaging with nonprofits.

The 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, by Michael Stelzner and Social Media Examiner, looks at how marketers and small-to-medium-sized businesses are using social media. The report includes data on weekly time commitment by size of business, how social media is used, which channels, budget, and more.

And finally, what end-of-year blog post wouldn’t be complete without a few prognostications for 2013, based on some of these reports and my experience working with nonprofit organizations in 2012.

In 2013, I think we’ll see a lot more of the following activities and thinking around nonprofit social media:

  • Widespread adoption and integration of social media policies in the workplace
  • Use of graphic images everywhere. If 2012 was the year of the infographic, 2013 will be the year graphics with text are used to move people to action.
  • Using social media personally on behalf of your organizations. Executive Directors, development officers, and staff will get out from behind their logos.
  • Testing social media ads. Buying Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other advertising to move people to action.
  • Engagement overtaking broadcasting activities. I’ve said it for years now: it’s all about engagement. I’m finally seeing more and more examples of nonprofit organizations trying this out, and experimenting with bringing stakeholders into the convesrations online.
  • Development of organizational social media strategies. 2013 is the year that social media moves from experimentation to planning.


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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