NetChange | Part 1: The Basics

Almost there! Please fill in the form below to access the full report.

I've already signed up!

Part 1: The Basics

Even more digital teams live in Communications

Question: What department are you a member of? 

Nearly 70% of digital teams now report to communications or marketing departments, a 10% increase from 2011. Just under 10% report directly to the Executive Director, which is a substantial drop from the 19% who did so in 2011. Not a single team resided in the IT department anymore.



Digital (report direct to E.D.)


Joint (more than one)





Communications continues to be the most appropriate location for the vast majority of organizations to manage their digital program from. However in an environment increasingly oriented towards engagement, digital programs remain a catalyst for change in how communications teams function as they evolve from the toolset of traditional PR and marketing techniques.

Most teams remain small

Question: How many full-time staff are part of the team responsible for your primary digital channels?  

More than 70% of all digital teams who responded consist of five full time staff or fewer. In very large organizations (200+ total staff) the average full time team size was 11-20. Large orgs (51-200 staff) and medium orgs (21-50 staff) were most commonly 3-5 staff. The vast majority (68%) of smaller orgs (1-20 staff) have digital teams of 1-2.

36%1-2 staff
36%3-5 staff
17%6-10 staff
7%11-20 staff
4%21+ staff


The appropriate size of a digital team varies greatly based on the focus and goals of the institution, how large their communications department is, the responsibilities within digital (ie whether they do fundraising, content, technology, etc.) and the team’s structure (ie hybrid teams tend to be smaller, with digital roles distributed throughout the organization).

Most teams have grown, the big are getting bigger

Question: Has this number grown in the past two years?   

63% – or almost two thirds – of digital teams have grown since 2011. The most growth has been seen in very large orgs, with 86% reporting growth. 62% of large org teams grew, 58% of medium sized orgs grew, and 47% of small orgs’ digital teams grew from 2011 to 2013.


Medium orgs

1-20 staff 


Small orgs

 21-50 staff

Large orgs

 51-200 staff

Very large orgs

 200+ staff


This growth, especially in larger orgs, is very positive and in line with most team leader’s aspirations in 2011.

It might be time to now level team size out: we believe the best way to grow digital capacity in 2014 is to have a transparent digital strategy, focus a small core team around priority functions where they can build deep expertise, and grow digital outreach capacity in multiple places throughout the organization.

We manage a lot of properties and channels

Question: How many digital properties is your team currently responsible for leading / maintaining? Has this number grown in the past two years? (graph below)

Most teams manage an average of 8-15 digital properties in total. About 70% of respondents now manage only one to two main websites, Facebook pages, and twitter accounts.

As for growth, most teams report the number of main sites, Facebook, and twitter accounts that they manage has stayed the same in the past two years. However the number of satellite or campaign websites, “other” social media accounts, and email streams have all grown for the majority of teams.

27%Main website

42%Satellite sites

30%Facebook fan pages

35%Twitter accounts
62%Other social media
49%Email contact streams

The good news? 70% of respondents believe they have “just the right number” of properties to match their goals and capacity, with only 22% reporting they have too many and 8% reporting not enough.


The tiring pace of growth in new online channels appears to have slowed from recent years. As we will see in further responses, the priorities of most leaders have shifted from digital platform building to system optimization.

The “gold rush” is over, or at least paused. Now it’s time to settle in for the long haul.


empty forwardpart2