October 27, 2010

The Top 20 Nonprofit Groups on Twitter

[Update 11:15AM Nov. 1st, 2010 - some organizations that we missed in the original list have contacted us, and we have since added @echoinggreen and @socialedge.]

Which nonprofits wield the most influence on Twitter?

It's not one of America's most established or best-known organizations. It's Charity: Water, a new global-development group that has 1.3 million followers, far more than any other charitable group we could find.

To come up with a list of the top groups on Twitter, based on their number of followers, we only considered an organization's official Twitter page. We did not add up followers for organizations with multiple pages (United Way Worldwide, for example, has dozens of local organizations), and we did not include well-known personal accounts associated with an organization. (Otherwise, Doug Ulman, president of Livestrong, the charity founded by the cyclist Lance Armstrong, would have been near the top with his more than 990,000 followers.)

Following are the counts for the top charities, based on how many followers they had as of the middle of this week.

  1. Charity: Water (@charitywater) 1,308,128
  2. Room to Read (@RoomtoRead) 457,158
  3. ONE (@ONECampaign) 452,002
  4. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (@gatesfoundation) 430,549
  5. (@dosomething) 366,737
  6. (@Water) 365,230
  7. Creative Commons (@creativecommons) 364,809
  8. Kiva (@Kiva) 357,148
  9. Care (@CARE) 350,785
  10. Social Edge (@socialedge) 350,333
  11. The Case Foundation (@CaseFoundation) 338,283
  12. Echoing Green (@echoinggreen) 333,807
  13. Acumen Fund (@acumenfund) 326,138
  14. Ashoka (@AshokaTweets) 322,734
  15. Skoll Foundation (@SkollFoundation) 320,057
  16. Samasource (@Samasource) 314,298
  17. Witness (@witnessorg) 276,553
  18. Unicef (@UNICEF) 209,690
  19. American Red Cross (@RedCross) 208,660
  20. World Wildlife Fund (@WWF) 159,353

Attracting a lot of followers is not the sole indicator of an organization's ability to make a difference or raise money and attention. Only four organizations from the top 20 Twitter list appear on The Chronicle's  latest survey of the top 400 nonprofit organizations ranked by private donations: Red Cross (13), Unicef (21), Care (33), and World Wildlife Fund (173).

And while Charity: Water seems like a runaway winner, part of its Twitter popularity stems from a personal endorsement by Biz Stone, Twitter's co-founder. Room to Read, a Seattle charity that builds libraries in the developing world, the second-ranked charity on this list, has also collaborated with Twitter.

Have we missed any organizations? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.