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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

The Nonprofits That Rule Social Media & The Web

A while back, you might remember seeing a beautiful infographic about the social media practices of the top 50 nonprofits. When I first came across it, I was really excited. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that these were not ranked in terms of social media use, but rather based on net income. This is absolutely a valuable metric, but I was curious how this data might vary if the list was based on organizations with the strongest social media presence...the ones we stand to learn the most from.

When I could not find up to date lists containing this type of information, I figured the first step would be to gather it myself. Here is a taste of five different lists I have built over the past few months. For a legend explaining how the rankings are computed, scroll down past the lists.

Top 10 Organizations in Terms of Facebook Likes

  1. Invisible Children (Shot from 26th to 1st in under 2 weeks after release of the Kony 2012 video)
  2. National Public Radio
  3. WikiLeaks
  4. TEDTalks
  5. United States Olympic Committee
  7. Livestrong
  8. PETA
  9. (RED)
  10. Humane Society of the United States

View all 50 top nonprofits on Facebook (including logos & like buttons)  

Top 10 Organizations in Terms of Twitter Followers

  1. WikiLeaks
  2. charity: water
  3. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  4. PBS
  5. (RED)
  7. Museum of Modern Art
  8. TEDTalks
  9. National Public Radio
  10. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

View all 50 top nonprofits on Twitter (including logos & follow buttons)

Social Media (Facebook Likes & Twitter Followers)

  1. WikiLeaks
  2. National Public Radio
  3. TEDTalks
  5. PBS
  6. Museum of Modern Art
  7. Invisible Children
  8. World Wildlife Fund
  9. PETA
  10. Livestrong

View all top 50 nonprofits on social media

Web + Social Media (excludes Charity Navigator Ratings)

  1. National Public Radio
  2. TEDTalks
  3. PBS
  4. American Red Cross
  5. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  6. PETA
  7. American Cancer Society
  8. WikiLeaks
  10. Smithsonian Institute

View the 100 top nonprofit organizations on the web (including full data table)

Web + Social Media + Charity Navigator Ratings (33.3% weight each)

  1. National Public Radio
  2. American Red Cross
  4. Smithsonian Institute
  5. Humane Society of the United States
  6. World Wildlife Fund
  7. Do Something
  8. St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital
  9. Kiva
  10. World Food Program USA

 Limitation: Charity Navigator only has about 81% of organizations in the top 500 list rated


  • Thousands of nonprofit organizations (excluding universities) are reviewed in a preliminary screening to determine if their statistics are competitive enough to be ranked.
  • 500 organizations are then selected to be ranked.
  • Data is collected for each nonprofit from all six measured criteria (i.e., for web; Alexa Rank, Compete Visitors, Google PageRank and for social media; Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers and lastly Charity Navigator’s 4 star rating scale).
  • For each of the six measured criteria, each organization is ranked in comparison to all other nonprofit organizations being evaluated.
  • A composite rank for each nonprofit is determined based on the included criteria in each list. See links for more details.
  • The top 50-100 organizations are published.

In addition to updating these lists several times a year, I will also be digging deeper into the specific online behaviors of these organizations and their online communities in search of tips and best practices.

Which of these lists is most interesting to you? What questions and best practices would you like addressed through further research?

Craig implements strategy, measures impact, and develops teams. His proactive leadership skills were honed as a decorated sergeant and enlisted aerial navigator for the U.S. Marine Corps and nurtured through his work in both the business and nonprofit sectors. In December, Craig received his degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from ASU and is currently attending the University of Colorado Denver's Business School.


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