50 charities with biggest increases to Facebook audiences in 2017

Following the post earlier this week about the charities with fastest Twitter growth in 2017, this time I’m doing the same for Facebook.

While the National Trust saw the biggest increase to its Twitter audience, on Facebook it had to settle for second place to Cancer Research UK.

Cancer Research UK started 2017 with a staggering 1,360,544 Facebook likes, and then managed to increase this by a further 120,175 over the course of the year.

Cancer Research UK: seen huge growth to Facebook audience

In the end, the increase in its Facebook audience in 2017 was more than 24,000 more than the National Trust.

But it was a year of two halves.

During the first six months, Cancer Research UK’s likes increased by a huge 95,000, which works out as almost 15,000 a month (nearly double that of even the National Trust).

But then its growth slowed right down. It only added 24,822 during the last six months, just the 10th biggest increase during this period.

The fastest rate of growth between July and December was actually British Royal Legion, which came seventh over the course of the whole year.

Looking across the list, it is astonishing how quickly the sector has increased its Facebook reach. Eleven charities increased their  likes by more than 50,000, and altogether the top 50 charities grew their audience by more than 1.6 million.

I should also mention that the year also saw the Dog’s Trust reach a massive milestone in becoming just the third charity (after Cancer Research UK and BBC Children in Need) to have 1 million Facebook likes.

Here’s the full list…

Increases in Facebook likes in 2017

  1. Cancer Research UK, 120,175
  2. National Trust, 96,163
  3. Alzheimer’s Society, 81,200
  4. RSPB, 71,373
  5. BHF, 68,685
  6. Cats Protection, 63,317
  7. Woodland Trust, 63,305
  8. Royal British Legion, 60,346
  9. Amnesty UK, 52,116
  10. WWF, 51,487
  11. IFAW UK, 50,344
  12. Dog’s Trust, 45,896
  13. Unicef UK, 42,669
  14. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, 38,671
  15. Mind, 38,553
  16. RNLI, 38,515
  17. Macmillan Cancer Support, 36,479
  18. Rethink Mental Illness, 36,174
  19. Oxfam GB, 34,060
  20. British Red Cross, 31,523
  21. Great Ormond Street, 29,229
  22. Prostate Cancer UK, 28,215
  23. Donkey Sanctuary, 27,104
  24. Blue Cross, 22,146
  25. Samaritans, 21,532
  26. BBC Children in Need, 20,829
  27. Stroke Association, 19,380
  28. Guide Dogs, 19,182
  29. Leonard Cheshire Disability, 18,544
  30. Scope, 18,489
  31. Marie Curie, 17,976
  32. Diabetes UK, 16,974
  33. Comic Relief, 16,049
  34. RAF Benevolent Fund, 15,896
  35. Save the Children, 15,722
  36. Breast Cancer Care, 15,488
  37. VSO, 14,770
  38. Terrence Higgins Trust, 14,685
  39. Age UK, 14,650
  40. Help for Heroes, 14,472
  41. Anthony Nolan, 14,166
  42. Crisis, 14,014
  43. Muslim Aid UK, 13,817
  44. Shelter, 13,738
  45. Arthritis Research UK, 13,508
  46. World Animal Protection, 12,250
  47. Barnardo’s, 12,133
  48. Prince’s Trust, 11,311
  49. Parkinson’s UK, 11,096
  50. Salvation Army, 10,749

As always, it’s worth saying that looking at number of Facebook likes is only ever a finger in the air and comes with some big caveats. Not only is the number of likes 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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