Royal British Legion, RSA and Comic Relief head charity social media league table

Royal British Legion, RSA and Comic Relief head charity social media league table

  • Top UK charities “punch above weight” re Facebook, Twitter and YouTube - compared with private sector giants.
  • “Social media is ‘the great leveller’ in communications, with many smaller charities outshining larger ones – some even excelling huge retailers and big business” says Saxton

The Royal British Legion, RSA and Comic Relief are the top three UK-based charities with the largest “social media presence” - in terms of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube engagement - according to a major briefing out today.

By specific social media “platform”, the Royal British Legion heads the Facebook rankings, with 1,875,926 ‘likes’; the Tate heads the Twitter rankings, with 304,987 ‘followers’; and the RSA heads the YouTube rankings, with 79,341 ‘subscribers’.

Audience engagement by the charity sector, using these platforms, compares favourably with – and in many cases surpasses - the private sector.

Leading not-for-profit sector research consultancy nfpSynergy’s “Charity Social Media League Table” compares the “social media presence” (index reflecting Facebook ‘likes’, Twitter ‘followers’ and YouTube ‘subscribers’) of all UK charities; and goes on to analyse the Top 50 UK charities by fundraised income - comparing the Top 25 of those against the 25 most popular UK shops, and the Top 25 FTSE companies by market capitalization.

Although there are charities working in every field with a good social media presence, arts, animal and cancer charities seem to use social media platforms to greatest effect.

On further analysis, 92% of the Top 50 UK charities specifically by fundraised income use Facebook (with an average 79,115 ‘likes’), 96% use Twitter (average 15,184 ‘followers’) and 90% use YouTube (average 452 ‘subscribers’), while 74% have at least one blog.

However, there is little correlation between a charity’s income and its social media presence, with smaller charities often outdoing larger ones. Indeed, smaller UK-based charities who punch especially above their weight - surpassing many Top 50 UK charities by fundraised income on one or more social media platforms - include Comic Relief, the V&A, Royal Opera House, Amnesty International and Greenpeace.

So how do top charities compare with private sector giants? Whilst the average Top 25 UK shop may have nearly 50% more (201,643 shop; 140,531 charity) Facebook ‘likes’ than the average Top 25 UK charity by fundraised income, it also has 7,000 less (17,215 shop; 24,658 charity) Twitter ‘followers’ - and less (466 shop; 620 charity) YouTube ‘subscribers’ too. Moreover, the average Top 25 FTSE company by market capitalisation has a tenth (14,830 company; 140,531 charity) as many Facebook ‘likes’ than the average Top 25 UK charity by fundraised income; an eighth (3,086 company; 24,658 charity) as many Twitter ‘followers’; and less than a third (186 company; 620 charity) as many YouTube ‘subscribers’.

Blogs are the least common form of social media used by charities and, even amongst those with blogs, levels of engagement with readers are low. Nonetheless, more top charities use blogs than either big shops or top FTSE companies.

It should be noted that even giants of both the charity and the private sectors are somewhat dwarfed by celebrity-related social media usage – by Dr. Gregory House’s 19 million Facebook ‘likes’; Coldplay’s 3.6 million Twitter ‘followers’; and Charlie McDonnell's 876,000 YouTube ‘subscribers’!

nfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton, comments:

“Social media is ‘the great leveller’ when it comes to communications. It provides a cheap and relatively simple way to reach and engage with supporters, and can be used to great effect by an organisation of any size. This is borne out by the fact that there is little correlation between a charity’s income and its social media presence. Thus charities often punch above their weight when competing with each other - or with major retailers and corporations - for cyber attentions. Who knows, perhaps, one day, they might even start to compete seriously with celebrities for a share of people’s online lives!”



MEDIA COMMENT: To interview nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton about these findings, please contact him direct on 07976 329 212 or; or, alternatively, contact Adrian Gillan (0774 086 7215; E: for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy ( is the UK’s only research consultancy dedicated to the charity sector and not-for-profit issues. It provides ideas, insights and information to help voluntary and community organisations thrive in an ever-changing world. Regularly harvesting the social and charity-related views of public and parliament, media and business - not to mention not for profit organisations themselves - nfpSynergy has a vast and ever-growing knowledge pool from which to extract and deliver insights.