In terms of absolute scores, Brookings is the top international development think tank, followed by Cato.
Here is more from CGD:
In 2013, our CGD colleagues Julia Clark and David Roodman designed a low-cost quantitative approach to rank US and international development think tanks by the strength of their public profile. Think tanks trade in ideas and ideas need to be noticed to be adopted. Thus, think tanks’ ability to garner public attention is likely to be a good marker of their influence and potential for impact. We applied the Clark-Roodman methodology to create an updated ranking of think tanks for 2014 using social media fans, website traffic, news media, and scholarly citations as well as operating expenses as a measure of size. The Index looks at public profile both in absolute terms and adjusted by the size of institutions’ budgets and ranks think tanks in two groups: US think tanks and international development think tanks (both US and non-US).
As CGD notes, Cato held on to the #1 spot that it also received in the 2013 rankings.
Not surprisingly, CGD notes that without exception, think tanks have gained Twitter followers and Facebook fans since 2013. Here is more on what CGD says about think tanks trends in social media:
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace increased their Twitter followers sevenfold (from 20,191 to 148,200). CSIS increased its followers tenfold from fewer than 10,000 followers in 2013 to more than 100,000. Other think tanks have had better success increasing their followings on Facebook. For instance, The Institute for Development Studies (UK) had about 6,000 Facebook likes in 2013 and now has almost 35,000.
Here is what CGD says about think tanks gaining traction in the news media:
In 2014, media mentions of all 36 think tanks in our comparison have gone up, with several think tanks more than doubling their citations in the news media. Among US think tanks, the Brookings Institution retained its top spot with over 23,000 media mentions, followed by the Pew Research Center, with over 15,000 and the Heritage Foundation with just over 10,000. Among think tanks with international development programs, the Center for Strategic and International Studies ranks second after Brookings, while the Cato Institute comes in third. The Urban Institute and RAND Corporation registered particularly impressive growth in the number of their citations, more than doubling media mentions compared to 2012.
Here is what the CGD report found on think tank spending in 2014:
The biggest spender was the RAND Corporation with over $275 million in operating in expenses, while the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies spent the least, at little over $1.3 million. The International Food Policy Research Institute had the highest jump in spending among US think tanks, with an 83 percent increase in two years. At the other end of the spectrum, the Canada-based Centre for International Governance Innovation spent close to 60 percent less in 2014 than it did in 2011. The North-South Institute’s budget decreased by over 30 percent; it closed its doors in September 2014.
More of the latest think tank profile rankings can be found here. The full rankings can be found here.
CGD was just ranked as the 27th best think tank in the US by the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.