The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University has been doing biannual survey of nonprofit technology benchmarks for its regional nonprofits (Southwestern Pennsylvania) for the past ten years.
I remember how excited we were when the first data was published ten years. The survey incorporates and expands nonprofit technology assessment/benchmarks used by practitioners in the field. It looks at infrastructure, software, hardward, connectivity, communications, policy, and adoption. The analysis is not just numbers alone, but based on the real life experience of the Bayer Center's staff that delivers training and consulting with nonprofits. Colleague Jeffrey Forster has been the visionary behind the survey since its started.
The results can be found in a PDF on the blog.
A few highlights related to social media:
-23% use social networking sites, but 68% of those use them "rarely"
-20% use blogs, but 64% of those use them "rarely"
-11% use RSS feeds
-11% use podcasting
Bear in mind that is the reality of social media adoption with most nonprofits. The early adopters tend to come from large national organizations, those with larger budgets/capacity in regions, small agile/activist nonprofits, and probably more concentrated in metro areas where there is an active social media/tech community - San Francisco, Austin, Boston, etc.
As Jeff reminded me, many nonprofits have not addressed some basic infrastructure issues - like networking their machines or retiring 6 year old computers. And while a handful of organizations in their area have started toeing their way into social media, it doesn't make sense for everyone particularly if basic technology infrastructure isn't in place.
I agree. But I'm still having problems with a yes/no or either/or way to it. I think they should at least have a basic understanding of what this is and why they are saying no.
I do make a point to cover at the beginning of any workshop - don't jump into social media before you've answered these questions:
- Are there pressing organizational issues to address?
- Are there effective or efficient ways to reach same outcomes?
- Does your current/potential audience use social media?
- Are you being seduced by Shiny Object Syndrome?
Perhaps it is better to have a concrete list ... don't do social media if ... or the ten tell-tale signs your organization shouldn't jump into social media:
1. Your computers are falling apart because they are six years old,
2. Your database is a mess
3. Your haven't updated your web site since 2001 because your volunteer left and you don't know the password
4. Your executive director and key leadership just walked out the door
What reasons would you add to this list?