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Published July 12th 2016

Research: The Nonprofits Using Social Data to Change Lives

Nonprofits are using social data for good: abusers are being educated, diseases are being tackled and lives are being saved. Read the research here

When you think of the world’s leading social brands a certain group of American companies probably come to mind.

Delta, Airbnb, GoPro. In fact, 35 of the 37 last year Shorty Awards winners and runners up for best use of social media were North American firms.

Under the radar, however, are other non-American, nonprofit organizations that are using social data to make real, positive change.

Can other organizations learn from these charitable trailblazers?

The first class third sector

We think so.

Over the last few years we’ve seen a handful of nonprofits utilize the world’s leading social intelligence platform to go beyond engagement and make genuine change.

Implementing social to make humanitarian advancements rather than meet the bottom line has propelled some British nonprofits into the upper echelons social greatness, despite little recognition.

The emergency response charity, founded in 1870, took a modern approach to social media during Hurricane Sandy.

Their team used Brandwatch to trawl through thousands of social sites to decide on the most compelling name for their public appeal.

‘Hurricane’, ‘tropical storm’ and ‘super storm’ were all being widely used. However, armed with a powerful social listening tool, the digital team quickly yielded social data to help decided on the optimal appeal name.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.52.21 AM_BW


Finding an appeal name (Hurricane Sandy) that resonated across borders and built on current trends improved British Red Cross’ social campaign, but more importantly, it helped them raise £513,000 for emergency relief.

[cta_button title=”Case Study: British Red Cross” text=”Free Case Study: British Red Cross” target=”https://www.brandwatch.com/case-study-british-red-cross/”]

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Back in 2012 two sets of brothers teamed up to fight one of the most preventable forms of cancer.

They created #FeelingNuts – a solely social campaign – with the aim to get people using all forms of social media to raise awareness about testicular cancer prevention.

Using Brandwatch Analytics, they were able to optimize their content and target influencers all of which led to impressive, but not unparalleled results; reaching 157 countries with over 100,000 tweets.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 12.12.13 PM_BW

But Check One Two achieved far more than retweets and shares.

With Brandwatch Queries set up, the organization was able to measure general conversation about testicular cancer, unrelated to the campaign.

The study found this unrelated conversation had grown by eight times during the campaign. Internet users were freely talking about the need to check themselves on an unprecedented level.

Check One Two’s use of Brandwatch to optimize its social media strategy led to a symbolic increase in testicular cancer awareness, which in turn, saved lives.

[cta_button title=”Case Study: Check One Two” text=”Free Case Study: Check One Two” target=”https://www.brandwatch.com/check-one-two/”]


With soccer fans using social media at ever increasing levels, Kick It Out – an equality and inclusion charity – began to combat soccer-related social media abuse.

The organization began handling abusive soccer posts during the 2012/2013 season.

They could see, year-on-year, the volume of abusive mentions growing, so they decided to investigate the true extent of the problem.

Kick It Out teamed up with Brandwatch and Tempero to tackle the issue. With Brandwatch’s world leading social intelligence tool, Kick It Out was able to uncover the total number of abusive mentions directed towards clubs, players and fans:

  • One discriminatory mention every 2.6 minutes
  • 551 discriminatory posts a day
  • 16,800 discriminatory posts a month
  • 134,400 discriminatory posts a season
Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 3.35.57 PM

The research resonated strongly with fans and journalists within the soccer community.

The media, fans and equal rights groups across the UK and beyond showed tremendous interest and support by helping to spread the messages.

Over 108,000 mentions were made about the research in the three days following the release. Publications such as the BBC, Guardian, CNN, Mashable and over 900 others covered the story, providing Kick It Out with the exposure their cause desperately needed.

Kick It Out, building on the popularity of the report, was able to set up an expert group with the police, soccer clubs and supporters groups to effectively handle the issue.

With an innovative use of social, genuine steps to quell an seemingly ever-growing problem have been made.

[cta_button title=”Case Study: Kick It Out” text=”Free Case Study: Kick It Out” target=”https://www.brandwatch.com/kick-it-out”]

Comic Relief

200px-Comic_Relief.svgComic Relief – a major UK charity – has raised over a billion pounds in the last 30 years.

The by-yearly campaign culminates with a night of TV comedy and entertainment to inspire the nation to give generously.

When planning their 2015 campaign strategy, Comic Relief became aware of the need to capitalize on the wealth of online chatter and convert passive viewers into active donators.

Using Brandwatch, they began to understand which elements of their campaign drove the most conversation


Integrating social data into its campaign helped the organization launch in the U.S. for the first time.

Demographic insights highlighted to Comic Relief which audience members were U.S. based, helping the organization rework its online user journey and drive American audiences through to the Red Nose Day USA website.

[cta_button title=”Comic Relief case study” text=”Free Case Study: Comic Relief” target=”https://www.brandwatch.com/comic-relief/”]

Making change

While many brands stay stagnant, developing homogenous campaigns to squeeze out more engagement from an increasingly disinterested audience, some nonprofits push beyond using the same medium to make unprecedented change.

Abusers are being educated, diseases are being tackled and lives are being saved all through the social media portal and all with budgets shadowed by those of larger corporations.

Raise a glass, tip your hat or tap out a tweet and give credit to the under-appreciated social media innovators.

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