How social entreprises use technology

Bonin Bough said in one of his conferences, that technology really mushroomed when manufacturers designed simple products that are relatable to users. Everyone can understand this statement, including me who’s a little bit of a geek. In fact everyone has seen the videos about babies who can’t even say a sentence but know how to launch an iphone and find their games or watch a video. Youtube is full of videos of this type as shown in the image below.

If babies are also affected by technology, social networks, smart phones or tablets then how much more of associations, activists, and non-profit organizations? Better yet, shouldn’t nonprofits try to emulate structures such as Unicef whose Facebook page would be the envy of any company wishing to have strong community engagement?


It is these questions that led us to investigate how nonprofits use technology?

Our Approach

We took a sample of some thirty Quebec nonprofits. We analyzed them based on two main factors:

– The quality of their website, from a search engine indexing point of view. This criterion seems important to us because Internet users find information through search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing in general.

– Their presence on social networks: Canada is one of the countries with the most social network users to Internet users. It is estimated that in 2010, nearly 40% of Internet users in Canada were either on Facebook or on Twitter. According to Comscore Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are the main social networks used in Quebec. These data show that for nonprofits to succeed and maximize the impact of their actions, they must understand and use social networks.

Our Sample

This investigation focused on thirty nonprofits distributed the following way:

  • Education : 32.4% of organizations analyzed
  • Healthcare and education : 17.6% of organizations analyzed
  • Finance and social entrepreneurship: 20.6% of organizations analyzed
  • Healthcare : 5.9% of organizations analyzed
  • Microfinances : 5.9% of organizations analyzed
  • Repartition-des-osbl

The first results

The Notoriety

We define online notoriety as the number of different websites talking about a nonprofit in our sample. In fact, it is estimated today that the majority of internet users find information online through search engines such as Google or Microsoft Bing.

In order to analyze the performance of websites from our sample on these search engines, we used two criteria for classic indexing to know the number of different sites that talk about one of our nonprofits and the number of links which point to these websites. Thus the following sites are quite popular in our sample:


Twitter is the second social media in Canada. It is a fast and interactive media that has proven its worth in situations of crisis and emergency. It’s definitely not the first social network to recommend to a nonprofit but twitter can be useful, especially for passing information to journalists, bloggers and influencers.


The “réseau québécois d’action pour la santé des femmes” is the organization with the most mentions on Twitter, although its subscriber base isn’t huge. It is emphasized here that our indicator is the number of times the site was cited on Twitter via a link.

At this stage; it’s difficult to explain the reasons behind this success. However we found that RQASF has received the support of digital personality Michelle White, who is shown in the image below.


On Facebook “le centre St-Pierre” is the organization with the most shared content. The diversity of the shared content, the will to involve the community, the very open and varied nature of the center’s activities must necessarily contribute to this success. However, we must say that the growth potential of the center’s number of fans remains very important and we’ll give a few pointers concerning optimization in a future article.


Firsts Conclusions

Our online survey is very rich in information and lessons. The first conclusion is that almost all the nonprofits of our sample are on social networks. The analysis of their statistical performances shows that some organizations perform better than others.

While collecting the data we soon realized the need to strengthen the nonprofits’ digital expertise so they can maximize the impact of their message. Some information that my team and myself have collected have led us to believe that in general these organizations are mostly made up of Volunteers and so unfortunately don’t have the budgets nor the resources to maximize the potential of social networks or search engines.

In the coming articles on this topic, we will propose solutions to help nonprofits take advantage of existing tools.