Welcome to our first-ever report and rankings all about nonprofit social media!
From saving the trees to producing fabulous works of art and beyond, these nonprofits are raising serious funds alongside epic social media engagement. These orgs are dazzling followers and engaging new supporters with creative and colorful mission-oriented content, and we couldn’t wait to dig in to see who was making the biggest splash on social.
We looked at key engagement and posting frequency stats on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter for a true sense of what nonprofit social media looks like in 2023 and beyond. We’ve also included tons of case studies and examples from top nonprofits for the ultimate NGO inspo. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
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Overall Top 10 Nonprofits on Social Media
We’re excited to celebrate the success of all the nonprofits in this year’s report, but we want to especially applaud the efforts of the overall top 10. These nonprofits stood out with successes on multiple fronts by rocking Twitter status updates alongside trending TikTok videos and beyond.
|1||Bat Conservation International||2||6||17||11|
|4||United States Tennis Association||8||24||3||31|
|8||National Down Syndrome Society||24||8||25||36|
Bat Conservation International grabbed the gold, Planned Parenthood the silver, and Innocence Project the bronze. Nonprofits like Oceana Peru and Amnesty International ranked first on at least one channel, while the United States Tennis Association, Fundación Aladina, National Down Syndrome Society, National Trust, and HAYTAP earned spots in the top 10 by being well-rounded in engaging followers on multiple channels.
Top Nonprofit: Bat Conservation International
You might not immediately associate trending social media with the wide world of bats, but Bat Conservation International is here to change all that. The Texas-based nonprofit won the top spot overall with seriously impressive engagement rates on all four channels: BCI earned 3x the engagement rate by follower on Facebook, 10x the engagement rate by follower on Instagram, 8x the engagement rate by follower on Twitter, and 4x engagement rate by view on TikTok.
Posting frequency (and of course high-quality content) played a role here: BCI posted about 3x as often as the average nonprofit on Twitter but posted less often on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok than their competitors, suggesting the nonprofit is strategically conserving resources for channels where they see the most bang for their buck.
As we’ve seen, BCI had stellar engagement rates across the board, but was especially successful on Instagram and TikTok, so let’s take a look at what made this nonprofit stand out on those channels.
BCI earned the silver on Instagram this year thanks to a mix of whimsical posting and a strong mix of photo and video content. This short and silly Reel featured a trending sound paired with a video of a conservationist swabbing a tiny bat with a Q-tip set to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” and earned a whopping 115% engagement rate by follower and 529K estimated impressions. The video was a viral hit, with viewers jumping into the comments with their giggles. This Reel is a good reminder for nonprofits that pairing your content niche with a trending sound can produce nonprofit social media engagement gold.
Speaking of trending sounds, BCI was all over this concept on TikTok as well. If you were on TikTok last year, you’ll remember the “For me, I really like corn” sound that trended everywhere, and this bat-themed take on it was no exception. The short video rocked a 24.2% engagement rate by view and showed off BCI’s conservation mission by providing a few bat facts along the way. The nonprofit wasn’t afraid to take a risk on TikTok by creating content reactively when a new sound or video style would trend, and their efforts paid off with a sixth-place finish on this tricky channel.
Top Nonprofit Social Media Trend: Trending sounds
Any nonprofit social media marketer making content for Instagram or TikTok knows the importance of using trending sounds to capture the attention of fans and followers. From current pop song clips to old TV shows, creators are pairing repurposed content with their own original stuff to the delight of the zeitgeist. Timing matters when using trending sounds–brands can seem with it if they jump on a trend early, but out of touch if they use a sound months after it trended.
Bat Conservation International was all about the trending sounds this year, especially on TikTok, which helps explain their #1 finish overall and their sixth place finish on TikTok. This quick video features bat footage paired with a popular Spongebob audio clip about being “smol,” which is obviously perfect for a video about teeny tiny bats. The video rocked a 12.6% engagement rate by view on TikTok, which is about 3x the nonprofit median. Trending sounds can be a good way to get something out the door without needing to come up with a highly-produced creative vision for a post, and helps new fans find a hook in your content when it comes across their FYP.
Semester at Sea rocked a 10.2% engagement rate by follower with this Instagram Reel featuring students and crew putting on their version of the song “Welcome to the Tipton” from the Disney show Suite Life of Zack and Cody. The playful Reel grabbed attention and more than a few comments from fans and followers (and jealous landlubbers), and was Semester at Sea’s Reel with the most engagement all year. These videos can be tricky to produce because you have to conform to existing content, but in situations like this are definitely worth the pay-off.
Top Nonprofit Social Media Trend: Balancing seriousness and playfulness
Every industry faces the challenge of mixing hard-hitting content with softer and more comedic stuff, but no one has to do that more than nonprofits. These organizations are out saving the world and raising money and awareness for their important causes, which might make it tempting to only put out mission-focused content. But making posts that are more approachable for new fans or making existing followers giggle has its place on social too because it helps supporters lean in instead of tuning out.
With the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision to abolish the constitutional right to abortion, Planned Parenthood had their work cut out for them last year. They of course took this job seriously, with tons of posts and tweets offering resources and support to followers, but they also weren’t afraid to shake up their format a bit. This TikTok video featuring Megan Thee Stallion’s award acceptance speech where the artist says she hopes for no more bans on bodies in the US earned a whopping 36.8% engagement rate by view, which is more than 8x the nonprofit median in this report. Mixing somber info with more playful mission-focused content is a good strategy for nonprofits looking to engage a broader audience.
Hillel International seamlessly blended an action update with a tongue-in-cheek caption to share news about Adidas’ decision to stop working with Kanye West after his repeated displays of antisemitism. The graphic is all business, but alluding to the longstanding feud between Kanye and Taylor Swift in the caption helps this serious topic go down a little easier, and rocked a 19.9% engagement rate on Instagram as the nonprofit’s fourth most engaging Instagram post of the year by rate.
Top Nonprofit Social Media Trend: Blending hi-fi and lo-fi media
Social media feeds increasingly feature a mix of highly-produced content and thrown-together iPhone videos, and nonprofits are really leaning into posting a mix of both. Storytelling is so central for nonprofits looking to raise awareness and money for causes that matter, which means larger nonprofits often invest in highly-produced video that they then repurpose across social media feeds. At the same time, there are never enough resources to go around, and sometimes the nonprofit social media magic is made when someone pulls out an iPhone to capture a once-in-a-lifetime moment that speaks for itself without being heavily edited.
Blending these two styles helps nonprofits make the most of their resources and deliver diverse content to fans and followers to engage and expand audiences.
SSAFA, a British nonprofit dedicated to supporting families of those in the armed forces, produced a slick video to publicize a fundraising event and shared it on TikTok. The video earned more than 129K views and 4,500 likes, raising awareness for their big event and exposing folks far beyond the nonprofit’s slim follower count to their important mission.
On the flip side, sometimes capturing the moment matters way more than the production value, like in this sweet Instagram Reel from the National Down Syndrome Society. The surprise proposal in the middle of Times Square excited followers to the tune of a 64.1% engagement rate, which is more than 123x the nonprofit Instagram median this year. Posts like this helped NDSS tie for eighth place overall as well as eighth place on video-centric TikTok by creating varied and more low-key ways for supporters to engage with their mission.
Top Nonprofits on Social Media: Instagram
Big ups to the Joffrey Ballet for its impressive first-place finish on Instagram this year, with Bat Conservation International and the Texas Tribune rounding out the winner’s podium. Other overall top 10 finishers like Planned Parenthood, HAYTAP, and the United States Tennis Association also had impressive engagement rates and rankings on Instagram this year, while nonprofits like Heartfulness, College Board, USA Hockey, and Semester at Sea were especially successful on Instagram but lagged on other channels.
|Rank||Company||Total Engagement||Eng. Rate by Follower|
|2||Bat Conservation International||653,134||7.56%|
|8||United States Tennis Association||981,286||1.22%|
|10||Semester at Sea||358,196||2.40%|
Nonprofits rocked a 0.52% average engagement rate by follower on Instagram this year, which is just a little higher than the industry-wide Instagram engagement rate median we saw in our 2023 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report. These organizations posted more than half the days at 4.7 posts/week.
Featured nonprofit: Joffrey Ballet
Chicago-based Joffrey Ballet earned top marks on Instagram this year thanks to a killer 3.08% engagement rate, nearly 6x the median for nonprofits in this study. The arts organization posted just a little more frequently than the average nonprofit at 5.2 posts per week, reminding us that content quality matters way more than quantity when it comes to nonprofit social media engagement.
Joffrey was also a top performer on TikTok, earning fourth place there, but lower scores on Facebook and especially Twitter kept the arts org out of the overall top 10. Joffrey’s success with short-form video naturally works better on Instagram and TikTok, so it’s no surprise that they struggled a little more on less video-centric platforms.
This Reel featuring a cute pun and video of nuts dancing in The Nutcracker rocked a whopping 39.6% engagement rate by follower on Instagram, and was Joffrey’s most engaging Instagram post of the year by rate. Followers ate up the short clip and jumped into the comments to share favorite memories of seeing The Nutcracker (alongside the occasional giggle about dancing nuts).
Joffrey was all about the Reels this year, with the nonprofit’s top 10 Instagram posts by engagement rate all being Reels. Making the most of this new-ish post type can be tricky for any social media team, but having tons of splashy archive and behind-the-scenes footage gave the arts org a major leg up with Reels. While not every nonprofit has a stash of high-quality videos ready to go, Joffrey’s success with Reels is a good reminder that short-form video is the way of the future and an important tool in the nonprofit social media engagement toolbox.
Speaking of high-performing Reels, Joffrey’s second most engaging post by rate was an even more playful Reel than the first one we looked at. The Reel earned a 35.3% engagement rate, which is more than 67x the nonprofit median in this report thanks to everyone’s favorite Instagram post type and a little help from the oh-so-cooperative cast of The Nutcracker. At least a dozen world-class ballet dancers came together to help film a “how each character in The Nutcracker would runway walk” video to the delight of followers.
This carousel post was a top performer for Joffrey with a 5.45% engagement rate, which is about 10x the median engagement rate for nonprofits on Instagram this year. As usual, Nutcracker content garnered epic interest, and this romantic pair of photos featuring an iconic duo from the ballet was no exception. Fans dropped their praise for the photos and experience at the show in the comments, helping the post earn more than 6,000 engagements.
Joffrey’s Instagram posts were pretty evenly split between carousels, Reels, and photos, with video content lagging far behind in frequency. As we’ve seen above, Reels led the pack for the arts org this year, with carousels earning the next highest engagement rates for the brand. Many nonprofit social media teams have limited bandwidth, so it’s no surprise that Joffrey posted a mix of post types on Instagram rather than just going all-in on Reels. Stringing together multiple photos into a carousel is always a good bet for social media teams looking to maximize Instagram engagement.
Top Nonprofits on Social Media: TikTok
Nonprofit TikTok was a fun mix of serious and more playful videos this year, leading to a very different vibe than Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Nonprofits averaged a 4.37% engagement rate by view this year, which is actually slightly lower than the all-industry average from our 2023 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report. These organizations posted just twice a month on average, suggesting there’s a lot of room to grow on TikTok as nonprofits continue to make investments in the ability to create short-form video.
|Rank||Company||Total Engagement||Eng. Rate by View*|
|2||Natural Resources Defense Council||806,370||28.85%|
|6||Bat Conservation International||280,736||16.27%|
|8||National Down Syndrome Society||872,456||7.87%|
|9||Institute for Justice||156,121||13.22%|
Sixth place overall winner Amnesty International grabbed the gold on TikTok this year, with the Natural Resources Defense Council and Innocence Project also landing on the podium with top engagement rates. Top overall finishers Bat Conservation International and National Down Syndrome Society also landed in the TikTok top 10, while nonprofits like Joffrey Ballet, ACLU, American Red Cross, Institute for Justice, RepresentUs, and College Board rounded out the list of top TikTok performers.
Featured nonprofit: Amnesty International
Human rights nonprofit Amnesty International earned top marks on TikTok and sixth overall thanks to a mix of thoughtful and on-trend videos alongside a serious dedicated community management style. Amnesty International saw a median engagement rate by view of 23.5%, which is more than 5x the nonprofit median for the year. The nonprofit also posted about four times as frequently as the average nonprofit at 2 videos per week, and their posting frequency definitely paid off with more bites at the engagement apple.
This highly produced short video earned an impressive 38.5% engagement rate by view, which is nearly 9x the nonprofit median. The video brings awareness to solidarity around the world for protests in Iran and encourages action from TikTok viewers with a short caption and link in the comments. Amnesty International wasn’t afraid to get serious in their videos in hopes of garnering community support for important causes. The nonprofit clearly has a dedicated team of videographers and content creators to help produce such high-quality TikTok videos, reminding us that resources do make a big difference when it comes to creating video content.
But on the other hand, Amnesty International clearly wasn’t afraid to hand over the iPhone to their Gen-Z content team for a more casual stab at TikTok engagement. This super simple video featured nothing more than a caption overlaid on the face of a team member paired with a trending sound. Followers dropped more than 31K likes on the video and raced to the comments to drop serious and silly ideas for Amnesty International to make it big on TikTok.
Another important part of Amnesty International’s success on TikTok this year was painstakingly replying to many comments, even on videos like this one that clearly went viral. Replying to followers is a great way to keep the conversation (and therefore the engagement) going on videos, and can also help humanize an older, international nonprofit like Amnesty International.
This video focused on solidarity protests for the death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini in Iran is a great example of Amnesty International blending its extensive video production talents with TikTok trending video styles and sounds for the ultimate viral video. The video features footage and photos of protests around the world and earned a 35.6% engagement rate by view alongside tons of encouragement in the comments. The video style is unique to TikTok and includes rapid-fire photos set to music. While others used this style to show off their latest vacation or wedding day, Amnesty International took the format and used it to stay current while bringing awareness to the protests in Iran, helping the nonprofit stay current and appeal to younger viewers on TikTok.
Top Nonprofits on Social Media: Facebook
Congrats to the American Cancer Society, Break The Silence Against Domestic Violence, and the United States Tennis Association for their top spots in our Facebook ranking this year. Overall top 10 winners National Trust and HAYTAP were also top performers on Facebook, while nonprofits like the Carter Center, The Humane Society of the United States, SSAFA, Texas Tribune, and the Alzheimer’s Association earned strong engagement on Facebook but struggled a bit on other channels.
|Rank||Company||Total Engagement||Eng. Rate by Follower|
|1||American Cancer Society||2,898,720||0.707%|
|2||Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence||1,452,843||0.432%|
|3||United States Tennis Association||798,106||0.649%|
|5||The Humane Society of the United States||1,537,862||0.248%|
Nonprofits could expect a median engagement rate of 0.06%, which is dramatically lower than engagement rates on Instagram and TikTok but a little stronger than Twitter. Nonprofit organizations were prolific posters on Facebook with nearly a post a day, which is undeniably more often than on higher-effort channels where video is king.
Featured nonprofit: United States Tennis Association
The United States Tennis Association governs and supports tennis for players of all ages across the US, and had some serious oomph to their social game this year. USTA’s fourth-place finish overall was a direct result of the nonprofit’s success on Instagram and Facebook, where they finished 8th and 3rd respectively. The org lagged behind a bit on Twitter and TikTok, but you can’t win ‘em all, and focusing efforts on channels where you’re seeing the most return is always a sound strategy.
USTA earned a 0.65% engagement rate on Facebook, which is about 10x the nonprofit median in this report, and posted just a little more than once a day at around 8.1 posts per week. The nonprofit was especially successful on Facebook with stunning snaps of tennis stars and more than a few nostalgic posts about tennis stars of yore in action.
USTA’s top-performing Facebook post of the year featured rising tennis star Taylor Fritz beaming after a big win at the BNP Paribas Open against tennis great Rafael Nadal. The post earned a 20% engagement rate thanks to a charming photo and plenty of comments from fans wishing Taylor well. Our boosted post detection shows that it’s very likely that USTA put some money behind this post, which is no surprise in the increasing world of pay-to-play social media. Either way, this post engaged thousands of fans and likely reached millions more thanks to strong content that just about anyone (except fans of Nadal) can get behind.
Anyone who follows USTA on Facebook could tell you there was one theme that ran through all of the nonprofit’s top posts: Serena Williams. The tennis great retired in September 2022, and USTA found countless ways to celebrate her prolific career on social. This statistic-focused post earned a 14.4% engagement rate and notably nearly 7,000 comments. Why do we bother calling out the comments in a sea of likes? Comments are an especially high-value type of engagement because people have to be moved enough by your content to go beyond the click to actually write something in. Fans flooded the comments on many of USTA’s Serena posts this year to wish the tennis star well or to leave memories of her long and storied career. Not every nonprofit can enjoy an engagement boost thanks to a top performer’s retirement, but it’s a good lesson that posting about leading community members can help humanize your cause or sport and boost your engagement.
USTA was more likely to post a photo on Facebook than any other post type, but when they did post video, they went big. This nostalgic video from a memorable moment for superstar Andre Agassi way back in 1995 excited fans to the tune of a 6.68% engagement rate, or about 10x the nonprofit median. It’s worth noting that in addition to the nearly 20k engagements, the video also earned 1.68 million views, dramatically outpacing USTA’s 307k followers. Shaking up your posting strategy with a throwback like this can help grab serious attention without having to create something totally new, which is a worthwhile strategy for any nonprofit trying to get ahead on social.
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Top Nonprofits on Social Media: Twitter
Nonprofits earned a 0.04% median engagement rate on Twitter this year and posted a little more than once per day at 8 tweets per week. These stats mean nonprofits were posting most frequently here but earning lower engagement rates than any other channel, which is a bit of a downer.
|Rank||Company||Total Engagement||Eng. Rate by Follower|
|6||Save the Manatee Club||50,298||0.39%|
|7||Ol Pejeta Conservancy||46,747||0.25%|
|10||The Leadership Conference||374,479||0.10%|
But in better news, Oceana Peru stole the show on Twitter for nonprofits this year, followed by the Carter Center and HAYTAP. Environmental nonprofits like Save the Manatee Club and Ol Pejeta Conservancy were also top performers on Twitter, while more human-focused nonprofits like Planned Parenthood, Heartfulness, Amnesty International, Women’s March, and the Leadership Conference also earned top Twitter engagement rates.
Featured nonprofit: Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood had a big year on Twitter thanks to lots of conversation and engagement surrounding the Supreme Court decision in June 2022 that overturned the constitutional right to abortion. The nonprofit rushed to tweet breaking news updates, hopeful messages about abortion rights, and ways to get involved. The nonprofit earned a median engagement rate of 0.26%, or about 6.5x the nonprofit median for the year. Planned Parenthood posted just a little more frequently than the nonprofit median at 8.7 tweets per week, though they obviously increased that frequency a lot in the summer around the Supreme Court’s decision.
Planned Parenthood won second place overall thanks to top 10 finishes on Twitter and Instagram and top quartile performance on Facebook and TikTok, so it’s clear that this nonprofit did it all last year.
So, to put it simply, it’s not just any nonprofit that can pull off a 75.1% engagement rate on Twitter. (For those keeping score at home, that’s almost 1900x higher than the nonprofit Twitter median.) Planned Parenthood’s status update tweet breaking the news about Roe v. Wade being overturned earned more than 240K engagements and a whopping 10.7 million estimated impressions as the news spread. Such a divisive topic definitely earned its share of detractors celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision, but those nearly 2,000 replies only increased the amplification of this tweet.
Many of Planned Parenthood’s most engaging tweets this year were about the Roe v. Wade decision, like this video tweet featuring a bilingual message of hope to supporters. The nonprofit wasn’t afraid to shake up its posting strategy to maximize reach with a healthy mix of status updates, links, photos, and videos like this one to be sure to reach supporters any way they could. This video was Planned Parenthood’s most engaging video tweet of the year with a 0.81% engagement rate and nearly 35K views. It’s not too surprising that a nonprofit that stood out on video-centric channels like Instagram and TikTok would also have their Twitter video game dialed in, of course.
Planned Parenthood had a lot of serious business to attend to on social this year, but wasn’t afraid to get a little playful by jumping into the wide world of memes. This photo tweet featuring actor Chris Pine’s infamous unimpressed mug during a press tour for a new movie with a caption tying it back to Planned Parenthood’s mission earned about 6x the median engagement rate for nonprofits on Twitter this year, and is a good reminder that shaking up your tone on social can help reach new followers, or at least remind supporters that your social media presence is multi-dimensional.
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How is My Nonprofit Performing on Social Media?
See what the best nonprofits are up to on social with our Live Social Media Benchmarks featuring top posts, engagement rates, high-performing hashtags, and tons more. Pro tip: you can even add these benchmarks directly into your Rival IQ account for always-on monitoring of these top organizations.
Or, go head-to-head with a free report on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter to see how you stack up against your top competition. Discover what makes your competitors tick with key insights and actionable advice you can start using now to come out on top.
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We surveyed hundreds of nonprofits between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023 on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. We included a selection of nonprofits from Forbes’ Top 100 Charities list and a sample of nonprofits from our broader database of organizations around the world. Using this data and a weighted formula, we generated an overall engagement ranking for each nonprofit and narrowed the list to the top 100 brands based on our criteria. The top-ranked nonprofits have high engagement rates with average or better audience size and posting volumes. We reviewed a mix of boosted and organic posts.
We define engagement as measurable interaction on nonprofit social media posts, including likes, comments, favorites, retweets, shares, and reactions. Engagement rate is defined as the total engagement divided by audience size except on TikTok, where it’s defined as the total engagement divided by views.
Due to Instagram API limitations, we’re able to pull accurate Instagram engagement numbers only for creator and/or Instagram business accounts.
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The Case for Benchmarking
Why benchmark instead of just measuring how your nonprofit’s individual performance changes over time? Because social success is relative. Benchmarking means figuring out what’s working (and what isn’t) for organizations in your industry and measuring your success against that.
It’s really important to go beyond likes and favorites because audience size matters: 200 likes is great engagement for a nonprofit with 1,000 followers but is a drop in the bucket to an organization with 100,000 followers. Engagement rate helps us take audience size into account to see who’s really reaching the highest percentage of their fans and followers with their social posts, which are the nonprofits you need to beat.
Wrapping it up
We hope you enjoyed reading about what makes top nonprofits tick on social media as much as we did. Want to point out a top nonprofit social media trend or get your nonprofit included next year? Shoot us a note on Twitter to keep the conversation going.
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