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To Small Nonprofits on the Social Web: 5,000 is the Magic Number!

September 11, 2012

I wanted to give some encouragement to all the small and medium-sized nonprofits out there on the Social Web that tweet, share and post regularly with the hope of growing their communities and inspiring social good – some feedback I received last week from Line Storgaard-Conley, Director of Digital and Social Media Strategy at Safe Kids Worldwide:

Remember back when you came to present at our conference in 2008 and told everyone that 5,000 fans was the magic number – that once we got to that number our Facebook Page would take on a life of its own? We worked so hard to get to 5,000 and then we took off! We engaged, asked questions, held competitions, discovered advertising and had a great time teaching the world about our cause and how to keep kids safe. And today we hit 100,000 likes/fans. Yeah! So thanks for your great advice back then and the fantastic advice you still provide through your awesome blog.

Blush. And it’s true. 5,000 is the magic number. I wrote about it in Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits:

Communities begin to grow exponentially when they reach 5,000 members. I’ve observed this phenomenon on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace, and Foursquare. From there on out, the larger your community gets, the faster it grows. Large national and international nonprofits have little problem reaching this benchmark, but small and some medium-size nonprofits will. Some will say that the number of likes or followers that you have doesn’t matter, but it does. The larger your communities, the higher your ROI. Work toward that goal of five thousand. It may take a year or two, but if you follow the best practices in this book, you will reach that magic number.

All that said, if you have found yourself frustrated because your communities are growing slowly, but you know you are posting good content, just know that it’s always the slowest in the beginning. There is absolutely a math to social media  and once you hit that 5,000 mark, you’ll begin experience a faster pace of growth. 🙂

Related Link:
Safe Kids Worldwide Facebook Page
Social Media and Mobile Technology Webinars for Nonprofits

21 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2012 11:49 am

    Thanks for this encouraging (yet discouraging!) information. Breaking 5,000 is not easy for a small church with a big mission!

  2. September 11, 2012 12:30 pm

    Confused: Went to the FB page for Safe Kinds and see 1,035 “likes” – how is the 5,000? Where to see what above refers to please? ls/ccac

  3. September 11, 2012 12:45 pm

    Used an older link to FB below perhaps, thanks for update and answer. Cheers, ls/ccac

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      September 11, 2012 12:47 pm

      Of course. 🙂

  4. September 11, 2012 1:41 pm

    For the Large Nonprofits: Have you guys come across any data the shows a ceiling for when pages begin to become ineffective or stagnant due to size?

  5. ENRIQUE permalink
    September 11, 2012 6:19 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement it is very much needed.

  6. September 12, 2012 1:13 pm

    I wonder what really makes this really a magic number? Does something change as far as ranking when you reach 5000 likes? I’d be interested to know.

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      September 12, 2012 1:18 pm

      I really think it is an undiscovered law of math… on the Social Web. The math of virality and social networking. 🙂

  7. pictureme permalink
    September 15, 2012 2:29 am

    Reblogged this on netvolunteer.

  8. Tidy Sum permalink
    September 22, 2012 6:23 am


    But why is 5,000 the magic number?

    Is it a proxy indicator for another set of outcomes related to the mission of the organization?

    What did 5,000 likes accomplish for your organization? More money? More volunteers? More partnerships?

    What tangible outcomes can you report that suggest the effort to get to 5,000 is worth the incredible investment of time and money?

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      September 23, 2012 7:22 am

      It’s simply math. 🙂

      The higher your numbers… the higher your traffic… the higher your email newsletter subscribers… the more online donations, volunteers, event attendees, etc. My book explains it in 268 pages… too much for a comment. 🙂

  9. September 22, 2012 8:59 am

    Our team is glad for this reassurance. We’ve been working hard to have interesting content and mix different mediums to get people involved….but the numbers have been climbing….slowly. We have been taking a lot of the advice given through this blog and your webinars so we know that soon and very soon we will have that 5,000 and more!


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