As we start a new year, I thought it would be worth looking at the 50 charities that grew their Twitter followings fastest in 2018.
When I did the same thing last year, it showed the National Trust way out in the lead; it saw over double the rate of increase in 2017 than the second fastest-growing charity.
But this year, it’s been pushed off the top position by Mind, which increased its number of followers by 60,629 during 2018.
The National Trust, though, put in another strong showing over the last year, growing its audience by 51,860. With more than 830,000 followers, it has by far the biggest charity Twitter audience – almost 160,000 more than second-placed Macmillan Cancer Support.
And despite being the fastest growing in 2018 (and second fastest growing in 2017), Mind still has less than half the number of followers as the National Trust.
Looking further down the top 50, there were impressive increases in rankings from Guide Dogs, Plan International UK and Prostate Cancer UK. And new entries included the Art Fund (straight in at 14th!), Islamic Relief UK, and my own charity, Bloodwise.
But aside from looking at movements in rankings, the thing that stands out is how much smaller the average increase in followers was in 2018 compared to 2017, right across the top 50.
- the fastest growing charity added 60,629 to its audience, compared to 116,979 in 2017.
- the 25th fastest growing charity in 2018 grew by 6,579, compared to 12,547 in 2017.
- The 50th fastest growing charity in 2018 grew by 2,912, compared to 5,174 in 2017.
This is partly to Twitter’s decision in July 2018 to freeze thousands of accounts due to suspected fraud. This led to the charities I look at for these rankings losing an average of 1.1 per cent of their total audience. Of the 83 charity Twitter accounts I looked at, 37 lost more than 1,000 followers.
But this doesn’t fully explain the slowing down in the rate of increase in 2018.
In a nutshell, if your charity’s Twitter audience increased by less than you hoped last year, you’re not the only one.
Anyway, enough of me talking. Here’s the rankings…
Increase in Twitter followers in 2018 (2017 ranking in brackets)
- Mind, 60,629 (2)
- National Trust, 51,960 (1)
- Macmillan Cancer Support, 31,742 (15)
- Rethink Mental Illness, 27,951 (4)
- RSPB, 26,495 (3)
- Woodland Trust, 23,580 (8)
- Samaritans, 19,731 (12)
- Stonewall, 17,647 (10)
- Guide Dogs, 17,130 (20)
- Cancer Research UK, 13,932 (9)
- Alzheimer’s Society, 13,771 (14)
- Dogs Trust, 13,612 (5)
- SSAFA (-)*
- The Art Fund, 9,860 (-)
- Crisis, 9,811 (21)
- WWF, 9,698 (27)
- Royal British Legion, 8,848 (17)
- Plan International UK, 8,621 (48)
- National Trust for Scotland, 8,508 (33)
- Shelter, 7,731 (16)
- Prostate Cancer UK, 7,368 (47)
- RNLI, 7,269 (23)
- Cats Protection, 7,211 (29)
- Children’s Society, 6,985 (39)
- Versus Arthritis**, 6,579 (50)
- Save the Children, 6,335 (24)
- Age UK, 6,281 (32)
- Mencap, 6,170 (-)*
- Battersea Dogs and Cats, 5,962 (19)
- Amnesty UK, 5,793 (13)
- Marie Curie, 5,250 (31)
- PDSA, 5,147 (43)
- Diabetes UK, 5,119 (25)
- Blue Cross, 5,031 (36)
- Parkinson’s UK, 4,977 (45)
- BHF, 4,723 (7)
- NSPCC, 4,513 (22)
- Breast Cancer Now, 4,468 (44)
- Islamic Relief UK, 4,026 (-)
- Stroke Association, 3,889 (41)
- Barnardo’s, 3,787 (28)
- Bloodwise, 3,678 (-)
- Salvation Army, 3,548 (-)
- Donkey Sanctuary, 3,415 (-)
- British Red Cross, 3,255 (11)
- Terrence Higgins Trust, 3,227 (-)
- Prince’s Trust, 3,124 (34)
- Unicef UK, 3,085 (35)
- Muslim Aid UK, 3,026 (-)
- RNIB, 2,912 (-)
* Was not included in last year’s data.
** The comparison for last year is for Arthritis Research UK, as it rebranded during the year.
As always, it’s worth saying that looking at number of Twitter followers is just a finger in the air and doesn’t necessarily reflect how well a charity is “doing” Twitter. Some charities have causes that make it easier to build a big following than others, and the number of followers doesn’t say anything about the quality of the engagement. And 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 developed two years ago 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. Since then I added nine charities not in the Charity Financials list that have a famous brand or big social media presence. But it doesn’t claim to be a comprehensive list. Data was recorded on December 27, 2018, and compared to that of December 30, 2017.