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10 Social Media Metrics for Nonprofit Organizations (and How To Track Them)

March 24, 2010

“A survey of 200 charity and foundation professionals revealed that nonprofits are finding it difficult to determine how valuable social media tools are for their organizations. Seventy-nine percent said they hadn’t found ways to do so.” – Chronicle of Philanthropy, November 12, 2009

[tweetmeme] For those 79% of nonprofits out there, I have listed 10 social media metrics below that can be easily tracked and plotted on a Social Media Return on Investment (ROI) Spreadsheet (Download). If you are using social media correctly, then your numbers should rise from month-to-month. If not, it may be time to get some training.

1. Website Traffic

Make sure you are tracking your “unique visitors” to your organization’s website from month-to-month. Many small-to-medium sized nonprofits do not realize how little traffic their website is actually getting. This will change quickly as you build your communities on social media sites. If you don’t already, get access to your website’s traffic logs and track and plot unique visitors on the Social Media ROI Spreadsheet. “Hits” are not the metric to monitor.

2. Blog Traffic

I was a reluctant blogger. I only launched Nonprofit Tech 2.0 seven months ago. I didn’t think the world needed another blogger. I was wrong. Blogging was the missing piece in my social media strategy. If your nonprofit is already blogging, plot your stats. If not, here are 5 reasons why your nonprofit should blog.

3. e-Newsletter Subscribers

At the beginning of each of my webinars, I poll my attendees: “Where did you first find out about this webinar?” The number 1 answer is always my e-Newsletter. Though subscription rates are dropping by an average of 1% each year, e-Newsletters are still a powerhouse of ROI. In fact, social media has increased the consumption of e-mail. If you are using social media correctly to build your e-Newsletter list, this number should grow from month-to-month.

4. Mobile Subscribers

Mobile lists are hard to build and most new subscribers come from pitches in e-Newsletters. Pitches in Tweets and Status Updates help too.

5. Online Donations

Online giving in 2008 was up 44% from 2007. Early estimates for 2009 show an increase in online donations of 46% from 2008. My suspicion is that this has much to do with nonprofits utilizing social media over the last few years. Many donors may not feel comfortable donating directly through social media apps and widgets (yet), but they do feel comfortable clicking to your “Donate Now” page on your website from a link posted on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.

6. Volunteers

As word gets out about your volunteer opportunities to your social media communities, and assuming your pitch to become a volunteer is enticing, you should be able to secure new volunteers through utilizing social media.

7. Event Attendance

Whether it is your annual gala or a monthly pizza chat, social media can help get the word out about your events.

8. Testimonials

Every so often a supporter will testify to your good work via a wall or blog comment. These testimonials are invaluable for print materials, funding appeals, and e-Newsletters. If you aren’t receiving any testimonials from your social media communities, ask them to testify!

9. Facebook/YouTube/MySpace Comments and Twitter Mentions

This can be a bit tedious to track, but if your organization is successfully using social media then you should be receiving comments and thumbs up regularly. Community feedback or lack thereof is a clear indicator on whether your are on the right track with your social media campaign.

10.  Fans, Followers and Friends

Social media is a numbers game. Yes… the quality of the fan, follower and/or friend is important, not just the quantity. But the reality is the more quality fans, followers, and friends you have, the higher the social media ROI.

44 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2010 9:02 am

    Great Article, great website! Add this comment to your ROI spreadsheet!🙂

  2. March 24, 2010 9:28 am

    Thanks for the post!

    These do give a good foundation – basically measuring traffic – but they don’t get very far towards measuring impact. I would argue that we should work to build on these foundational counts but strive to measure progress towards mission and/or clear strategic goals.

  3. March 24, 2010 12:31 pm

    Nice post with plenty of good advice here. I especially appreciate the statistic about eNewsletter subscriptions dropping by about 1% a year.

    If you’re interested, there’s a good white paper on the 60 Second Marketer website called “Top 11 Ways to Measure Your Social Media Campaign.” It would supplement your post here pretty well.

    You can download it here:

    Keep up the good work! In addition to the 60 Second Marketer, I also run a charity called A School Bell Rings.

    Jamie Turner

  4. March 25, 2010 3:58 am

    A CEO of a major international organisation said:

    “We spend over £50million per year on advertising. 50% works, 50% doesn’t. The difficulty is in working out which 50% works.”

    Without an internet presence, you simply just do not have a “shop window” on the world. Companies have realised this and are employing and paying to keep their internet presence up to date on a daily, if not hourly basis. It doesn’t cost a penny to have social networking activity so there’s no real excuse in my opinion for everyone to compete equally for the internet influence. The software and Apps are available to keep all your social networking up to date at one hit (eg Hootsuite)

    I see this as clear opportunity for the NFP, voluntary, SME sectors to compete with the “big boys”

    (wow – I sound almost intelligent on this subject – I’ll wait to be put back in my place by the tech guys out there and the pro bloggers🙂 )

    Hope to see you outdoors soon and not just on your computers!
    Helford River Expeditions

  5. March 25, 2010 9:02 pm

    Well! You’ve learned a lot if you’ve only been doing this for seven months!

    I especially like the “hits” on a website vs “unique visitors” idea. That makes sense.

    And I agree that social media has increased email. Words, words, everywhere.

    Thanks for this post,

  6. March 25, 2010 10:27 pm


    I am from Taiwan.
    We are a NPO working on digital inclusion, specially focus on helping NPOs to use ICT.

    This is a great article, can we translate it into Chinese and post it in our website ( to share with those NPO who can only read in Chinese?

    We will link back to here.


    Shufang from Taiwan

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      March 29, 2010 10:43 am

      No problem… thanks!

  7. March 25, 2010 11:49 pm

    While present with profiles on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, etc. the nonproift is forced to maintain a certain level of quality (an outdated profile is bad PR). But how to do that if they lack a strategy, ROI metrics and perhaps a social media whiz? Thanks a lot for your important post. Very interesting read covering what nonprofits must be better at. Looking forward to reading more by you. Kind regards /Isaac

  8. March 26, 2010 8:10 am

    Are there good sources for what should be considered a “realistic goal” for these metrics, or is it simply a matter of tracking over time and seeing improvement? We track things but I don’t know if the numbers mean we are doing well or not. I mean, how many unique visitors is a “good” number for our website? How many fans should our facebook page have to be effective?

  9. March 26, 2010 9:23 am

    Very succinct and helpful! Thanks.

  10. March 26, 2010 11:04 am

    In reference to 10. How exactly would you define “Social media ROI”? I’m also curious as to how you measure it?

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      March 29, 2010 10:43 am

      Hi… not really clear on your question? This post is about ROI and more importantly how to measure it?

  11. Stephanie Rudat permalink
    March 26, 2010 2:56 pm

    The download of “Social Media Return on Investment (ROI) Spreadsheet” is a good start, but I think it would be beneficial for them to be far more descriptive in their actions. Starting with:
    – What was posted where, and when. – hyperlink all posts
    – Note all interactions – analytics data available for Facebook fan pages
    – Note posting of events
    – Retweets on Twitter
    – What they have re-tweeted
    – Where links to their orgs website/new media pages have been posted.
    – Links to comments made on other pages referencing their nonprofit or their resources

    This is al recommended so that they can clearly show every effort, answer questions before they are asked but also so that someone else can assume this task easily with very little risk of transition hiccups.

  12. Jenny permalink
    April 6, 2010 1:45 pm

    I tried to download the Social Media ROI spreasheet but it didn’t work. Is this something you could email or put on your website?

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      April 6, 2010 1:57 pm

      Are you on a mac? Do you have Excel?

  13. April 26, 2010 8:09 am

    I cannot access the Social Media Return on Investment (ROI) Spreadsheet through the download. Could it be sent to me through my email?


    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      April 26, 2010 12:22 pm

      Hi… you need Excel. Do you have it?

      • mark permalink
        June 1, 2010 10:07 am

        I am getting errors, too.

      • nonprofitorgs permalink
        June 1, 2010 10:15 am

        Hi… it definitely works. Try another browser or open up Excel first. Your computer may not be configured for Excel downloads, but it is definitely there. Thanks.

  14. July 28, 2010 10:32 am

    Great article; having run a project which used social media heavily (Turkey’s Changemakers, see I found a lot of your suggestions to be relevant.

    And to be completely honest, we (Sabanci Foundation, Istanbul-Turkey) jumped right into the world of social media with this project without much research or training. Its so intuitive that you really do not need much – its a learn by doing kind of thing.

    I was happy to see your ROI spreadsheet- we created one at the beginning and each week, systematically (with quite intricate excel spreadsheets and charts) tracked our Facebook, Twitter followers (almost 7000 now), video viewing (more than 100.000 now) and other statistics. Over an 8 month period (the project was 32 weeks, each week the story of a new Changemaker), our numbers increased an average of 30%; video viewing increased an average of 45%.

    So reading this article (as I am writing one of my own now to share the experience we had with this project) was not only helpful but also made me realize we are on the right- and a successful one- track🙂 Thank you!

  15. July 28, 2010 10:35 am

    One more thing: Weekly we tracked ALL the comments on Twitter, Facebook and the project’s website in one word document (200 over 32 weeks). I highly suggest doing this along with the spreadsheet. When you do it weekly it does not take much time and I FULLY agree that they are useful for future articles, presentations, publications etc!

  16. January 26, 2011 4:31 am

    Hello, I googled your website and wanted to introduced myself. My name is Robby Long, I’m an Ambassador with a company called Visalus Sciences. We work with alot of churches and Non Profits around the country promoting our Community Challenge. In these tough economic times we know that donations are down. We have a program that raises money for your church and feeds hungry kids with our meal replacement shake. Last year we donated over 500K meals to kids in need. Our program is very simple. The reason I’m contacting you is we are looking to partner with a few more local churches and organizations. The great thing about our program is 100% of the money donated is given to the kids. Our company sends your organization a separate check for you to buy books, clothes or whatever you like. Please visit our website at
    I look forward to hearing from you to schedule a time to meet.


    Robby Long

  17. Abhirup Chatterjee permalink
    May 20, 2011 12:12 am

    Very interesting read. I have also come across another interesting take on the same

  18. Alessandra permalink
    August 16, 2011 9:11 am

    This is all really great when measuring your social media strategy. Great points and tools mentioned. I recently wrote a blog post that complements this post nicely. It is about social media strategies for organizations, and how they can use it to make their limited marketing budgets go far! You can read it here:

  19. February 7, 2012 2:48 pm

    Great post for non profit organizations it is really important for them to get as much exposure as possible…Social media is an excellent way to do this…Linking a website, with facebook, with twitter , with youtube, are all great ways to create more awarness about the non profit organization. Interesting read.


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