Summers at Visceral Business are usually heady days filled with a lot of data, and after two months of collaboration with charities, community watching and collecting social media statistics, harvest time has come, our 2012 Social Charity 100 Index is here.

Our 60-page report is packed full of in-depth insights that we hope reveal a thoughtfully nuanced picture of the state of social charities in the UK today, and it shows how they’ve been developing in the last twelve months since we did the last one.

Generating a depth of understanding in combination with others, getting under the skin of things, is something we regard is a vitally important part of developing a strong social brand. The aim with the Social Charity Report is to help charities think about how they can excel as social organisations with an overarching strategy that differentiates them, that joins the dots across different areas of the charity organisation and goes beyond a proprietary usage of social media to being able to develop real and bespoke value. Forget Facebook, likes. Think formative moments.

We believe the key to success for social charities is in how well they position and differentiate themselves, doing so in congruent and fascinating ways as dynamic cultures, communities and movements for change.

For anyone who wants the condensed version of the Report, this post captures the pithiest bits of it. So, what have we found? These are the main headlines.

Social media has yet to fully impact development via HR

According to the participating charities in our survey, 64% of HR departments don’t yet recognise the impact that people can make using social media, or encourage the development of social leadership in their people.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at social brands and how tribes of belonging and strong communities form as someone big into brand identity and also a founding member of Seth Godin’s think-tank-goldfish-bowl of an experience, Triiibes, over the last years. Social organisation and the development of the successful not for profit brand, is where anthropology, social causes and marketing come together.

What seems to be the case, according to the study, is a rapid explosion of social media onto the marketing landscape has equipped people with the tools but not necessarily given them the space within the context of large scale organisation to develop their own social identities, and hone skills, the kind of skills that social networking leadership involves. There’s been something of an overlaying of existing management thinking onto new inter-relationships, and there are opportunities for HR to develop human social capital in new ways that social charity brands can benefit from.

Perceived media effectiveness and marketing spends need to line up better.

As you can see from this chart, the ROI on paid and promoted media is being reported as falling quite dramatically. There’s been an overwhelming preference for owned and earned media amongst the charities that have participated in our survey.

Added to that, what’s emerging is a more bespoke aspect to the way social charity brands can configure their portfolio of social media platforms. All of this begs for charities to take a 360 degree look at their marketing communications from a social business design perspective,  so they can make the most of their budget, save costs and develop the maximum impact from their social media in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders.

The networked power of social media is becoming evident

12m likes, follows and subscriptions, (that’s the equivalent of 20% of the UK’s population), are connected to the Top 100 charities in our chart.

With a long way to go before full social media maturation and the full potential of social business design is developed, this already represents an incredible figure. The Top 100 Charities on Google+ alone between them have in excess of over 1 million follows. Add in search and analytics capabilities and it looks like the opportunity for non-profits to harness dynamic populations of interest is just around the corner.

So charities need to get better at putting the human side of the organisation (including the talents of their people, inside and outside the organisation) upfront, so they can effectively inspire others and realise this potential.

Despite these impressive stats, there are some seeming disconnects going on too, particularly in terms of converting interest to engagement. Nine of our  Top 100 also score highly as charities whose activities are most shared on Facebook according to data from JustGiving. Here, smaller non-profits and micro communities do well. Also, 78% of charities don’t organize meetups or hangouts online as part of their social conversations. They are less comfortable than perhaps they should be at connect with people spontaneously and in real-time.

Charities can connect culture, HR and brand communications together to develop the authenticity of their brand story, the values that help define the interactivity experience, to open up collaboration and engender strong, sticky cultures and communities.

Networked power is here and a KPI to aim for.

As fundraising activities come under review we think there is a new social media metric to aim for, one of networked power, which is the ratio of income to social supporters of the brand.

A low ratio of income to social support enables the charity to spread the risk of its fundraising activities and to iterate with supporters. As a metric, it also encourages the charity to tell a philanthropic story about the impact it’s making that is compelling.

Large and small charities are demonstrating networked power, from Transparency International to the National Gallery. These charities have different types of followings for very different reasons, the real point is there’s a lot they can do with them by creating meaningful interactions and experiences. Every charity can now have a plan in place about this as part of their social business design strategy.

We hope the report gives charities useful food for thought and some avenues to explore. If you’d like to see what we can do for you to help your organisation on its social business development journey, have a think about doing a Social Business Health Check with us. Its harvest time, we can put the fruits of your potential social media performance on your table.

Download the full report for free from the Visceral Business website. Just sign up for a link on our Home page or in the Reports section.