The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports today the top 20 nonprofit groups on twitter. Here’s what they say:

The Top 20 Nonprofit Groups on Twitter

October 27, 2010, 8:01 pm

By Derek Lieu

Which nonprofits wield the most influence on Twitter?

It’s not one of America’s most established or best-known organizations. It’s Charity: Water, a new global-development group that has 1.3 million followers, far more than any other charitable group we could find.

To come up with a list of the top groups on Twitter, based on their number of followers, we only considered an organization’s official Twitter page. We did not add up followers for organizations with multiple pages (United Way Worldwide, for example, has dozens of local organizations), and we did not include well-known personal accounts associated with an organization. (Otherwise, Doug Ulman, president of Livestrong, the charity founded by the cyclist Lance Armstrong, would have been near the top with his more than 990,000 followers.)

Following are the counts for the top charities, based on how many followers they had as of the middle of this week.

1. Charity: Water (@charitywater) 1,308,128
2. Room to Read (@RoomtoRead) 457,158
3. ONE (@ONECampaign) 452,002
4. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (@gatesfoundation) 430,549
5. (@dosomething) 366,737
6. (@Water) 365,230
7. Creative Commons (@creativecommons) 364,809
8. Kiva (@Kiva) 357,148
9. Care (@CARE) 350,785
10. The Case Foundation (@CaseFoundation) 338,283
11. Acumen Fund (@acumenfund) 326,138
12. Ashoka (@AshokaTweets) 322,734
13. Skoll Foundation (@SkollFoundation) 320,057
14. Samasource (@Samasource) 314,298
15. Witness (@witnessorg) 276,553
16. Unicef (@UNICEF) 209,690
17. American Red Cross (@RedCross) 208,660
18. World Wildlife Fund (@WWF) 159,353
19. Greenpeace International (@Greenpeace) 109,579
20. Save the Children (@savethechildren) 106,162

Attracting a lot of followers is not the sole indicator of an organization’s ability to make a difference or raise money and attention. Only five organizations from the top 20 Twitter list appear on The Chronicle’s latest survey of the top 400 nonprofit organizations ranked by private donations: Red Cross (13), Unicef (21), Care (33), Save the Children (66), and World Wildlife Fund (173).

And while Charity: Water seems like a runaway winner, part of its Twitter popularity stems from a personal endorsement by Biz Stone, Twitter’s co-founder. Room to Read, a Seattle charity that builds libraries in the developing world, the second-ranked charity on this list, has also collaborated with Twitter.

Here’s a link to their site: