“With nearly one out of every four non-donors connected with a charity on social media, that’s a great chance to grow the donor base. But as pervasive as charities are in this society, more than six out of ten Americans still have no social media connection to any charitable organization, and that includes about half of all charitable donors.”
A new national study of 971 American adults who use social media shows that religion and charity are not connections most people have.
Lost Opportunities – Faith, Giving, and Social Media was conducted jointly by Grey Matter Research and Harmon Research. When asked about various types of social media connections they have, 62% of users report no connections with a charity or non-profit organization. This includes 48% of people who actually donate money to such organizations. On the bright side, 28% of those who don’t financially support charitable organizations are still connected to one or more on social media.
Younger adults more likely to be connected to a non-profit or charity:
- 46% among Generation Z
- 50% among Millennials
- 39% among Generation X
- 28% among Baby Boomers
- 19% among Seniors
While these numbers may bode well for the future, charitable organizations currently tend to get much of their support from older adults. This means the age groups who are the most likely to donate are also the least likely to be connected with any charities on social media.
For context, while 38% are connected to a charity or non-profit, 36% report being connected to at least one for-profit business. It seems people value social media for the ability to connect with other individuals more than with organizations.
Three out of ten social media users are connected with a religious congregation on social media, while 27% are connected with a religious leader from a congregation, such as a pastor, priest, or rabbi. A total of 38% are connected to either a religious congregation or a leader from a congregation.
Even among religious people, religious social media connections are limited. Among those who regularly attend worship services, 45% are not connected on social media to the congregation they attend, and 58% are not connected to a religious leader from that congregation.
Throughout the study, younger adults are more likely than older people to show diverse social media connections; they’re more likely to be connected to people with very different religious and/or political views than they hold, to a U.S. politician, to a for-profit company or a charitable organization, to people who live outside the U.S., etc. But that increased level of connectedness stops when it comes to religious leaders and congregations. Seniors are just as likely as Gen Z to be connected to a religious congregation or leader.
The study also reveals that relatively few people are connected to others who differ from their own political or religious views. Only 37% report being connected to someone who holds religious views that are very different from their own, while 42% are connected with someone who holds very different political views. Just over half (52%) are not connected to anyone with very different political or religious views. The older the users, the more likely they are to have connections only with others who share their ideologies.
As the report states, “We’ve used social media to build barriers, not bridges.”
Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research, notes that the study shows how much opportunity there is for charitable and religious organizations. “This is a glass-half-empty/glass-half-full question. Religious congregations and leaders are reaching only about half of their own people, and collectively fewer than two out of ten who don’t attend worship. On one hand, that leaves a whole lot of Americans with no religious social media connections at all. On the other hand, congregations and leaders on social media are reaching almost one out of every five Americans who don’t regularly attend worship, and even one out of every eight adults who have no religious affiliation or belief. The numbers represents a tremendous opportunity.”
Sellers noted that for charities and non-profits, it’s also a mixture of opportunity and lost opportunity. “With nearly one out of every four non-donors connected with a charity on social media, that’s a great chance to grow the donor base. But as pervasive as charities are in this society, more than six out of ten Americans still have no social media connection to any charitable organization, and that includes about half of all charitable donors. What a lost opportunity for non-profits to communicate with donors.”
The full report is available by contacting Grey Matter Research ([email protected]).