The Big Bird Gets the Worm? How Size Influences Social Networking by Charitable Organizations



Wallace T & Rutherford AC (2021) The Big Bird Gets the Worm? How Size Influences Social Networking by Charitable Organizations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 50 (3), pp. 626-646.

Current evidence suggests that nonprofits’ use of Twitter is not strongly related to organizational size, unlike other technological developments. However, this evidence is primarily based on studies of large nonprofit organizations. This study uses a random sample of charities, stratified by size, to present evidence that organization size is a significant factor in multiple dimensions of social media use: the percentage of charities owning a Twitter handle, activity on the site, and popularity within the charities’ network. Many charities are using Twitter, but larger charities are making more effective use of the platform to connect to other organizations. The very largest charities exhibit an overwhelming popularity effect in the network, whereas small charities are notably less active than their larger counterparts. Besides the substantive findings, we further demonstrate the methodological potential of using exponential random graph modeling to gain a deeper understanding of the characteristics of nonprofits’ social media networks.

ERGM; Twitter; charities; social network analysis

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly: Volume 50, Issue 3

Publication date01/06/2021
Publication date online24/09/2020
Date accepted by journal04/08/2020

People (2)


Professor Alasdair Rutherford

Professor Alasdair Rutherford

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Mr Tom Wallace

Mr Tom Wallace

PhD Researcher, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology