50 fastest growing charities on Facebook in 2018

Last week, I published a list of the 50 fastest growing charities on Twitter in 2018. So this week it’s the turn of Facebook.

And the headline is that there’s a new chart topper. After having the 10th fastest growing Facebook audience in 2017, WWF has gone to number one this year, increasing its number of likes by a massive 138,769. This is over double what it achieved in 2017.

As impressive as this growth is, Cancer Research UK is still way ahead of every other charity in terms of total Facebook audience. It may have only had the 6th fastest growing audience in 2018, but its total likes of 1.56 million is more than 500,000 ahead of 2nd place BBC Children in Need.

Other big increases in the rankings for Facebook growth in 2018 included:

  • Cats Protection, which rose from 6th to 2nd (almost doubling its rate of increase)
  • Save the Children, up from 35th to 2nd
  • Shelter, up from 44th to 17th

There were also some high new entries, including NSPCC (7th); Al-Khair Foundation (9th); and PDSA (28th).

Stepping back from the individual rankings, overall growth in charity Facebook audiences has been strong. Despite Facebook’s difficult year, charities increased the size of their audiences faster in 2018 than in 2017, whereas the opposite was the case for Twitter.

This reflects the fact that it’s still the dominant social media platform, reaching 90% of UK internet users.

Anyway, here’s the rankings…

Increases in Facebook likes in 2018 (2017 ranking in brackets)

  1. WWF, 138,769 (10)
  2. Cats Protection, 113,457 (6)
  3. BHF, 90,915 (5)
  4. Alzheimer’s Society, 87,837 (3)
  5. Save the Children, 79,054 (35)
  6. Cancer Research UK, 76,301 (1)
  7. NSPCC, 66,027 (-)
  8. National Trust, 59,400 (2)
  9. Al-Khair Foundation, 57,985 (-)
  10. Mind, 53,226 (15)
  11. Amnesty UK, 51,790 (9)
  12. Royal British Legion, 44,805 (8)
  13. Battersea Dogs and Cats, 44,727 (14)
  14. Great Ormond Street, 43,782 (21)
  15. Guide Dogs, 40,866 (28)
  16. Rethink Mental Illness, 37,380 (18)
  17. Shelter, 37,356 (44)
  18. RSPCA, 36,461 (-)*
  19. RSPB, 33,231 (4)
  20. Woodland Trust, 31,840 (7)
  21. Diabetes UK, 31,509 (32)
  22. Donkey Sanctuary, 31,118 (23)
  23. Oxfam, 30,722 (19)
  24. Prostate Cancer UK, 30,712 (22)
  25. Breast Cancer Care, 30,222 (36)
  26. Unicef UK, 28,543 (13)
  27. IFAW UK, 26635 (11)
  28. PDSA, 25,507 (-)
  29. RNLI, 25,404 (16)
  30. British Red Cross, 23,923 (20)
  31. Dogs Trust, 23,773 (12)
  32. Blue Cross, 23,062 (24)
  33. Teenage Cancer Trust, 22,378 (-)
  34. Islamic Relief UK, 20,869 (-)
  35. Worldwide Cancer Research, 20,055 (-)
  36. Marie Curie, 19,350 (31)
  37. Macmillan Cancer Support, 19,342 (17)
  38. RNIB, 19,281 (-)
  39. RAF Benevolent Fund, 17,516 (34)
  40. Stroke Association, 15,236 (27)
  41. Age UK, 13,948 (39)
  42. Scope, 13,931 (30)
  43. MNDA, 12,610 (-)
  44. Blind Veterans UK, 12,580 (-)
  45. Anthony Nolan, 12,076 (41)
  46. Breast Cancer Now, 11,946 (-)
  47. Plan International UK, 11,418 (-)
  48. Tearfund, 11,204 (-)
  49. Action for Children, 11,040 (-)
  50. Samaritans, 11,008 (25)

*Data for RSPCA was not included in the previous year.


As always, it’s worth saying that looking at number of Facebook likes is just a finger in the air and doesn’t necessarily reflect how well a charity is “doing” Facebook. Some charities have causes that make it easier to build a big following than others, and the number of likes doesn’t say anything about how much its helping the charity deliver its objectives. 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.

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