The 50 charities that grew their Twitter followings fastest in 2017

It’s been a year since I’ve started tracking Twitter media audiences.

And, with the top 10 exactly the same as three months ago, I thought I would start the New Year by looking at the charities that increased their Twitter followings fastest in 2017.

The first thing to highlight is the obvious – that National Trust has had a brilliant year on Twitter. Not content with starting 2017 with the biggest charity Twitter audience, it proceeded to spend the next 12 months accumulating new followers at more than double the rate of any other charity.

Overall, it increased its Twitter following by 116,979 during 2017. That’s almost 10,000 extra followers a month!

NT twitter
National Trust: good use of photos on Twitter

With its great use of photography, assured tone, and interesting content, if you’re looking for Twitter inspiration then its feed is a good place to start.

So congratulations, National Trust social media team; you won Twitter in 2017!

But they’re not the only ones who have seen big growth in their Twitter audience in 2017. In fact, 10 charities increasing their  following by more than 20,000.

A particular honourable mention goes to Mind, whose increase of more than 50,000 saw it claim a comfortable second place. And to Samaritans, whose 19,447 extra followers meant it increased its audience by a quarter.

Looking across the top 50 charities, they have increased their followings by a total of 846,786 – an amazing collective achievement.

It will be interesting to track progress over 2018 and see whether the charities with big increases are the same ones as last year.

It will also be interesting to see how the overall rate of Twitter growth changes. My guess, as nervous as I am of New Year predictions, is that the top 50 will accumulate slightly fewer extra followers this year. We will see!

Anyway, here’s the full list…

Increases in Twitter followers in 2017

  1. National Trust, 116,979
  2. Mind, 51,482
  3. RSPB, 32,542
  4. Rethink Mental Illness, 29,230
  5. Dog’s Trust, 28,905
  6. Help for Heroes, 28,654
  7. BHF, 27,220
  8. Woodland Trust, 26,115
  9. Cancer Research UK, 25,946
  10. Stonewall, 25,401
  11. British Red Cross, 22,743
  12. Samaritans, 19,447
  13. Amnesty UK, 17,957
  14. Alzheimer’s Society, 17,614
  15. Macmillan Cancer Support, 16,059
  16. Shelter, 15,888
  17. Royal British Legion, 15,744
  18. Comic Relief, 14,734
  19. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, 14,717
  20. Guide Dogs, 14,618
  21. WWF, 14,337
  22. NSPCC, 13,996
  23. RNLI, 13,994
  24. Save the Children, 13,082
  25. Diabetes UK, 12,547
  26. BBC Children in Need, 12,408
  27. Crisis, 12,389
  28. Barnardo’s, 12,237
  29. Cats Protection, 11,989
  30. Oxfam GB, 10,977
  31. Marie Curie, 10,689
  32. Age UK, 10,258
  33. National Trust for Scotland, 9,802
  34. Prince’s Trust, 9,250
  35. Unicef UK, 9,153
  36. Blue Cross, 9,145
  37. Breast Cancer Care, 8,696
  38. Scope, 8,251
  39. Children’s Society, 7,810
  40. Action for Children, 7,784
  41. Stroke Association, 7,675
  42. Great Ormond Street, 7,505
  43. PDSA, 7,336
  44. Breast Cancer Now, 6,852
  45. Parkinson’s UK, 6,777
  46. ABF (the soldier’s charity), 6,360
  47. Prostate Cancer UK, 6,163
  48. Plan International UK, 6,102
  49. Teenage Cancer Trust, 6,053
  50. Arthritis Research UK, 5,174

As always, it’s worth saying that looking at number of Twitter followers is only ever a finger in the air and comes with some big caveats. Not only is the number of followers only a single (and sometimes misleading) measure of success, but some charities may have causes and audiences that make it easier to build a big following than others. Also, the results are likely to be at least partly due to the resources – both staff and non-staff –committed to it.

The list of charities was based on the Charity Financials list of the top 100 fundraising charities, not including charities that were more cultural institutions than fundraising charities (eg Tate Britain and the National Gallery) or those without a significant social media presence. I also added nine charities not in the Charity Financials list that have a famous brand or big social media presence. Mencap and RSPCA are not included in this list, as I only added them during the year. Data was recorded on Decmber 30, 2017, and compared to that of 29 December, 2016.


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