Richard Evans: 50 charities with the biggest increases in Facebook audiences in 2017

CRUK tops the list with almost 1.5 million likes

Richard Evans
Richard Evans

After the post last week about the charities with the fastest Twitter growth in 2017, this time I’m doing the same for Facebook.

While the National Trust saw the biggest increase to its Twitter audience, on Facebook it had to settle for second place to Cancer Research UK.

CRUK started 2017 with a staggering 1,360,544 Facebook likes, and managed to increase this by a further 120,175 over the course of the year.

In the end, the increase in its Facebook audience in 2017 was more than 24,000 more than the National Trust.

But it was a year of two halves.

During the first six months, CRUK’s likes increased by a huge 95,000, which works out as almost 15,000 a month (nearly double that of the National Trust).

But then its growth slowed right down. It added only 24,822 during the last six months, just the 10th-biggest increase during this period.

The fastest rate of growth between July and December was actually for the Royal British Legion, which came seventh over the course of the whole year.

Looking across the list, it is astonishing how quickly the sector has increased its Facebook reach. Eleven charities increased their likes by more than 50,000, and altogether the top 50 charities grew their audience by more than 1.6 million.

The year also saw Dogs Trust reach a massive milestone in becoming just the third charity (after CRUK and BBC Children in Need) to have a million Facebook likes.

Here’s the full list…

Increases in Facebook likes in 2017

CRUK, 120,175
National Trust, 96,163
Alzheimer’s Society, 81,200
RSPB, 71,373
BHF, 68,685
Cats Protection, 63,317
Woodland Trust, 63,305
Royal British Legion, 60,346
Amnesty UK, 52,116
WWF, 51,487
IFAW UK, 50,344
Dogs Trust, 45,896
Unicef UK, 42,669
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, 38,671
Mind, 38,553
RNLI, 38,515
Macmillan Cancer Support, 36,479
Rethink Mental Illness, 36,174
Oxfam GB, 34,060
British Red Cross, 31,523
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, 29,229
Prostate Cancer UK, 28,215
Donkey Sanctuary, 27,104
Blue Cross, 22,146
Samaritans, 21,532
BBC Children in Need, 20,829
Stroke Association, 19,380
Guide Dogs, 19,182
Leonard Cheshire Disability, 18,544
Scope, 18,489
Marie Curie, 17,976
Diabetes UK, 16,974
Comic Relief, 16,049
RAF Benevolent Fund, 15,896
Save the Children, 15,722
Breast Cancer Care, 15,488
VSO, 14,770
Terrence Higgins Trust, 14,685
Age UK, 14,650
Help for Heroes, 14,472
Anthony Nolan, 14,166
Crisis, 14,014
Muslim Aid UK, 13,817
Shelter, 13,738
Arthritis Research UK, 13,508
World Animal Protection, 12,250
Barnardo’s, 12,133
Prince’s Trust, 11,311
Parkinson’s UK, 11,096
Salvation Army, 10,749

As always, it’s worth saying that looking at the number of Facebook likes is only ever a finger in the air and comes with some big caveats. Not only is the number of likes just a single (and sometimes misleading) measure of success, but some charities might have causes and audiences that make it easier to build a big following than others. The results are also likely to be at least partly due to the resources – both staff and non-staff – committed to it.

The list of charities was based on the Charity Financials list of the top 100 fundraising charities, not including charities that were more cultural institutions than fundraising charities (such as Tate Britain and the National Gallery) or those without significant social media presences. I also added nine charities not in the Charity Financials list that have a famous brand or big social media presence. Mencap and the RSPCA are not included in this list, because I only added them during the year. Data was recorded on 30 Decmber 2017 and compared with that of 29 December 2016.

Richard Evans is head of press and public affairs at the King's Fund. This article first appeared on his personal website, One Riot

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