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Last week I looked at 10 charities that are using Pinterest as a way of promoting their causes and raising awareness of the work they do.

To continue the theme, this post looks at 10 charities and how they use Facebook for the same purposes.

One of the tricky issues for charities is that they often deal with difficult or upsetting issues, so it’s hard to find content that people will want to ‘like’.

The way round this is to focus on the positive side of what they do, such as fundraising and helping those in need.

If there are any charities that have successful or interesting Facebook pages that I haven't mentioned, please point them out in the comments section...

ActionAid UK

ActionAid has almost 19,000 fans and posts daily updates including images of fundraisers, details of its campaigns and good deeds, and general facts about the charity.

A majority of the posts include decent imagery or videos, which predictably gets a better response than simply posting a text update.

Each post gets tens of ‘likes’ and a handful of comments, which the social team do a good job of responding to.

Overall ActionAid maintains an active, attractive Facebook page that ticks most of the boxes for best practice.

Beatbullying

Beatbulling has an incredibly active Facebook page and frequently posts two or three updates in a day.

The content includes images of its fundraising, the office spaniel, high profile bullying cases, and interviews with its celebrity backers.

A lot of the posts are links to news stories and articles so it’s not the most visually appealing page, but then the charity’s cause doesn’t lend itself to pretty imagery.

Even so, I think the page would benefit from having a greater range of visual content, whether that be photos of fundraising events, celebrities, or just more of the office dog.

British Red Cross

The Red Cross UK page has just over 100,000 fans, but then it does benefit from being one of the most recognisable charities in the world.

As with most charities the updates mainly focus on its volunteers, fundraisers, ongoing campaigns and the work it carries out.

The page is updated on an almost daily basis and nearly every post includes at least one image, which means it’s among the most engaging charity pages on this list.

The British Red Cross also gets a high level of engagement on its page, with more than 1,000 ‘likes’ on its most popular posts.

In fact, one update asking whether first aid should be on the national curriculum actual received 26,000 ‘likes’ and more than 1,000 comments.

Compassion in World Farming

Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) has an active page and more than 30,000 fans but personally feel it would benefit from posting more visual content.

At the moment most of its updates are links to news articles and petitions so it’s very text heavy.

The charity’s aim is to raise awareness of bad farming practices and help protect animals, and to be fair people aren’t going to want to ‘like’ and share a load of picture of suffering farm animals.

However it could still find pictures of healthy, happy animals to highlight the results of its fundraising activities.

That said, CIWF still gets a decent amount of interaction with its posts, so what do I know?

Fairtrade Foundation

Fairtrade is close to breaching the 100,000 fans barrier, yet engagement levels on its page are relatively low.

The page is updated on an almost daily basis and nearly all posts include an image of some sort, yet its number of interactions are nowhere near the same level as the Red Cross.

It could be that people are more passionate about other human rights charities, but it’s still interesting to note the disparity between the two.

Also, I think Fairtrade could improve its page by posting more images of the farmers it helps from the developing world. It would help to highlight the work it does and also give it some interesting photos that people might be more willing to share.

Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan has attracted more than 200,000 fans to its Facebook page and keeps them engaged with several posts per day.

The posts are the usual mix of fundraising appeals and links to relevant news articles, but Macmillan has also recently hosted a Q&A with its interns through Facebook and advertised for new staff members.

Unfortunately the page suffers from a distinct lack of visual content, as images of cancer sufferers aren’t necessarily the sort of thing that people will want to post or share on Facebook. As a result the level of engagement with its posts is quite low considering its number of fans.

But looking at its website, Macmillan has a decent number of fundraising schemes running this year that should help it capture photos worth sharing through social.

National Autistic Society

The national Autistic Society does a good job of keeping its page updated on a daily basis and I like the fact that it adopts a friendly tone by wishing people “good morning” and “good afternoon” at the start of its posts.

Much of the content focuses on people living with autism and their experiences, but the social team also organise events, give out free tickets and highlight important issues.

It has the feel more of a forum or community site, which makes it stasnd out from the usual Facebook marketing pages.

RSPCA

The RSPCA has a whopping 396,000 fans and posts new content on a daily basis.

Animal charities are perfectly suited for social as people love to share images of cute pets, and the RSPCA makes the most of the animals in its care with recent updates including images of badgers, ducklings, rabbit and dogs.

The posts frequently get thousands of ‘likes’ and hundreds of comments which the social team do a great job of responding to.

Furthermore, to reward its community the RSPCA asks people to submit pictures of their pets via Twitter then gets its Facebook fans to vote for their favourite. The winner is then used as the page’s official avatar.

WWF

The WWF is streaks ahead of the others on this list in terms of fan count, clocking up a massive 1.1 million ‘likes’.

But obviously it’s quite frivolous to judge an organisations on that one metric alone, particularly when comparing UK charities with those that have global appeal.

The WWF benefits from the fact that it protects exotic animals, and it’s not particularly hard to find photos of elephants and tigers that people will want to ‘like’ and share.

As such its posts tend to get a number of interactions, particularly when they feature elephants.

And aside from images of wildlife, the WWF posts the usual mix of petitions, links to articles and promotions for its various campaigns.

As far as I can tell though, the social team don’t tend to respond to the huge number of user comments they receive, but instead just use Facebook to push out messages rather than engaging with fans.

War Child

War Child holds several high profile fundraising concerts throughout the year and many of its updates refer to gigs featuring artists such as Friendly Fires and Muse.

These include ticket information, promos for YouTube live streams, and photos from the concerts.

This is a major benefit for War Child and allows it to mix up entertaining content with serious images portraying the charity work it does in warzones. 

However the level of interaction on the page is still quite low, and it has only 30,000 fans despite the fact that it joined Facebook back in 2007.

David Moth

Published 18 April, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (12)

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Tom

Surely a better guage of the use of social media would be the ROI rather than likes?

I'm sure a lot of peope's charitable nature deserts them when they are required to donate time or money rather than click 'like'

over 3 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@Tom, I didn't suggest that 'likes' is a decent measure of success and would never recommend that anyone uses it when defining their social media goals, but it is a very basic way of benchmarking the pages against each other.

over 3 years ago

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Anil Arora

Hi David,

As with Pinterest, Macmillan is at a slight disadvantage when it comes to imagery. We do have images of fundraising, infographics and case studies. However, we've found recently that Facebook seems to be favouring text only posts , reaching far more people. As a result, we haven't used as many images as we could have. That said, it doesn't necessarily lead to better engagement, as a photo might.

We also do have quite decent and meaningful engagement, here, people discuss their experience of pallative care.
https://www.facebook.com/macmillancancer/posts/10151394473912199
https://www.facebook.com/macmillancancer/posts/10151386108077199
Possibly the nature of our work means that only a small portion of followers will want to share their experience, but those that do are very frank and open even though it's public. We're grateful they share their experiences.

Here's a post relating to our "Not Alone" campaign, which has a fundraising element but still has good engagement underneath https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151376948247199&set=a.10150138540297199.284687.44916667198&type=1

Our nurses also answer questions on our Facebook page and will be available for a Q&A next week, which is why for us, Facebook is an important part of the services we deliver.

thanks,
Anil

over 3 years ago

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Anil Arora

Having just double checked with our Online Community team, they feel our preference for text only Facebook posts has lead to a significant jump in the number of people we've had joining our Community web chats.

Has anyone else experienced this particular Edgerank effect?

over 3 years ago

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Helen Leathem

Hi Anil,

At Age UK we trialled a text-only Facebook post earlier this week. The reach did seem to increase significantly, compared to a standard post-with-photo-and-link style status update.

Our photo-led campaigning posts tend to lead in terms of engagement, but we'll certainly be experimenting with this Edgerank quirk further to see how this affects community activity.

I'm told that one side-effect of increased reach is an initial loss in followers, who've not been served the Page content in their TL for a while and, when they see the text-only status, decide to 'unlike'!

Thanks,
Helen

over 3 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@Anil and Helen, thanks for your comments, it's really interesting to hear the difference between text and image posts. I'd be keen to discuss it further if possible, so if you have a spare moment please contact me at david.moth@econsultancy.com

over 3 years ago

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Sharon Giles

At Parkinson's UK (http://www.facebook.com/parkinsonsuk) we generally post a few updates every day - with as much visual content as possible.

We've had lots of interesting stuff going on this week in our annual Parkinson's Awareness Week. The theme is 'Put yourself in my shoes' - which has lent itself brilliantly to people sharing pictures and their experiences of Parkinson's. We've had a lot of new people liking us on Facebook, either as a result of seeing other people's social media shares or as a result of other activity for the week (eg media coverage, events).

One example of something shared on our page this week:
https://www.facebook.com/parkinsonsuk?ref=hl#!/photo.php?fbid=542183185821172&set=o.93935333855&type=1&theater

over 3 years ago

Claire Connachan

Claire Connachan, Youth Scotland

Hi guys, the text only Edgerank quirk has also been on the go on a range of pages I've administered. Text only updates were seeing as much as three or four times reach in comparison to photo-led imagery. So you're not the only one!

over 3 years ago

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Christian

One of my favorite charities for their use of Facebook has to be Greenpeace. Why? Two reasons:

Timeliness- Everything they do seems to be happening right that very second- it feels very current- just like any of your friend's status updates would be. None of their updates feel generic- like they could have been pre-written 3 weeks earlier, as some charity's messages seem.

Positivity- The Greenpeace FB is a permanent stream of positivity and achievements. Greenpeace's marketing (I receive their email updates too) seems to be a permanent stream of success stories- considering how hard it can be to get a single success story out of other organizations, this is an absolute breath of fresh air- and the sort of thing I want to see on my wall. Coupled with their amazing FB campaigning (loved the Star Wars VW campaign), it makes it far more likely for me to give- because it gives the impression that whatever they do, they will succeed- and we all like to be part of a winning team!

PS I have no affiliation with Greenpeace apart from as a supporter- I have never worked with them, for them, etc, etc, etc

over 3 years ago

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Christine

I loved this article about Facebook and Charities.
I would be interested in a comparison on: open or closed group?Comment and Share?
Do you encourage comments on your wall?
Overall, how do these charities encourage interaction?

over 3 years ago

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Alec Leggat

It's a point of view but re Fairtrade, I'd like to see how Fairtrade goods are impacting consumers in the UK rather than more photos of farmers smiling beside their coffee or banana plants. Did you know that you can get Fairtrade school uniforms from Tesco, for instance?

If content is king, or queen, it has to be an interesting story that piques the interest of the reader not just more of the same. I stopped following a charity on FB which I really rate because they kept telling me and showing me the same thing several times a day.

over 3 years ago

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Mike

At MAG (Mines Advisory Group) most of our posts on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/minesadvisorygroup) are photo-with-caption-and-link, which we find generally have a larger reach than links or status updates.

We're lucky in that we do have a huge archive of fantastic photos, of varied content, so we try to make the most of this resource.

However, the majority of these photos were taken in previous years, and I think Christian makes a very good point about the timeliness of posts and mirroring the immediacy of friends' posts.

over 3 years ago

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