Some Findings from the 2012 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report

Submitted by Annaliese on Thu, 01/05/2012 - 2:08pm

NTEN member and nonprofit communications expert Kivi Leroux Miller just released the 2012 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, based on a survey of over 1200 participants at the end of 2011.

The survey asked nonprofit professionals about their plans, expectations, perceptions, and even fears regarding their organization's communications in 2012. You can download the complete report from

Here are some of findings that stood out:

  • 78% of respondents planned to email their typical supporters at least monthly in 2012.
  • Facebook was rated more important than print marketing and in-person events for communications channels in 2012 (though this may depend on budget size, with larger organizations valuing traditional channels higher than smaller organizations).
  • Respondents said they were excited about having actual communications plans and strategies for the first time in 2012.

Another finding that stood out was how respondents ranked communications tools:

Respondents ranked their websites, email marketing, and Facebook as their most important communications tools for 2012. This corresponds somewhat to what we found in our recently released 2011 Nonprofit Data Ecosystems Report: respondents were most likely to have invested in email management and website management tools.

Moreso than donation databases, nonprofits value websites and email marketing as parts of their core organizational data infrastructure.

The open-ended responses to the questions about fears and excitement for nonprofit communications in 2012 also unearthed some great information:

On the one hand, it looks like 2012 will be the year of putting actual plans and strategies into play (yay!), but, on the other hand, nonprofit communications professionals have a lot of obstacles in the way of those plans.

One challenge in particular stood out, illustrated by respondents as "Internal trepidation about new strategies," "lack of understanding of new social media tools," as well as "My organization doesn't value new ways of communication." This reminded me of the key challenge that arose in NTEN's 2011 Community Survey when we asked about key nonprofit technology barriers:

The remaining barrier that these professionals keep telling us is that they need organizational buy-in: buy-in from leadership, and also other non-technical staff who will need to use the tools as well.

I think we've made a lot of progress in this area over the last couple of years. Here's to hoping that 2012 will see more of these barriers disappear!