Finding Hidden Treasures Using LinkedIn to Uncover New Donors and Board Members a white paper from Monsterful
Introduction More than a job hunting site LinkedIn is not just a place to look for a job or network for business. It is emerging as a top B2B marketing tool which also happens to make it a great tool for nonprofit prospecting and relationship-building. In recent years, LinkedIn has added features that can present your nonprofit in a space where corporations and foundations are increasingly spending their time and effort. Since LinkedIn users are primarily professionals, you will be able to reach people who are more likely to be affluent and in a position to help your cause through corporate support, loaned executives, employee volunteers, cause marketing, and board service. While Facebook and Twitter are still the top social media channels to reach general audiences, LinkedIn allows you to make connections where you can develop more beneficial partnerships.
You can use LinkedIn to: • Identify and research potential donors, board members, and pro bono service providers • Build relationships with current and potential donors & volunteers • Be better informed for face-toface meetings with prospects • Increase the branding and presence of your organization
A few relevant stats • It’s one of the fastest growing networks with 2.5 million users and two new members joining every second. • The average income of users is $86k per year — 36% make $50-$100k and 31% make more than $100k. • 40% of users check in several times a week. • Only 12% of nonprofits use LinkedIn indicating that this is still very much an untapped resource.
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Your Individual Profile Since LinkedIn is focused on connecting people to people, your profile is the most important aspect of getting the most from LinkedIn. Fill in the basics A blank or sparse profile gives the impression that you are not serious about your work or career. At minimum, include your recent work history, education, etc. on your profile. It doesn’t need to be an exact copy of your
Note: This guide assumes that you already have some familiarity with LinkedIn and how it works. For more information about how to set up a profile or organizational page, see the additional resources section on page 8.
resumé or include everything you’ve ever done but do hit the high points. The goal is to give people a peek at the personality behind the profile. I like to be a little more expressive and share some of the inspiration I receive from my work. Here’s a portion of what I wrote for one past position: CVI offers vision rehabilitation for people who have vision loss—from infants to seniors—so that they can succeed in school, have careers, and live independently in their own homes. Every day I saw people overcome enormous challenges which is both inspiring and humbling. It was a pleasure to be involved in fundraising and communications in support of this mission. Something like this is much more interesting to read than a buzzword-filled listing that doesn’t really say anything about YOU. Have a profile photo
A profile with a picture is seven times more likely to be viewed than one without. But nothing says “unprofessional” more than a bad profile photo (blurry, outdated, or inappropriate). This isn’t Facebook — no kids, pets, food, other people, busy backgrounds, you in skimpy attire on the beach ... The only
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thing worse is no profile photo at all which does nothing to foster confidence. Use a current head shot (full body photos don’t ‘pop’ in the news feed) so that people won’t be surprised when they meet the real you. LinkedIn gives you the option to crop your image into a square when you upload it. Take
Profile Photo Specs JPG, GIF, or PNG 200 px ‒ 500 px square 4MB max file size
time to adjust this otherwise you might be represented by your forehead and the ceiling of your office.
Oh No They Didn’t!
Make your profile public In your account privacy settings, you can determine who can see your profile and connections. I recommend that you make your public profile visible to everyone.
Nothing can redeem a badly cropped, poor quality image.
Get the others on board Ask your staff (especially the CEO), board, and volunteers to update their own profiles being sure to show their affiliation with your organization in the experience or volunteer sections as appropriate. Other enthusiastic supporters can add a link to your website under “organizations you support.” You may even offer to assist key people if they are too busy or, ahem, technologically challenged, to manage it. I’ve been known to add photos and freshen the copy on more than a few profiles (with the owner’s permission, of course).
Lovely family but this doesn’t show you as a professional. No hobbies, please, and show us your face. Um ... this isn’t the networking site you’re looking for ...
Do you even care?
Your Organizational Page A company page on LinkedIn is similar to an organizational Facebook page. You can have followers, post updates, and converse with constituents. People who include your organization in their own profile (employees and volunteers) are automatically connected to the organizational profile.
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Note: Groups are mainly used for discussions centered around an issue or special interest. These require more effort to maintain than a page. Don’t start a group unless you have an engagement strategy and someone who can function as the community manager otherwise you risk giving the appearance that no one is paying attention which reflects poorly on the whole organization. Whether you have a profile, group, or both, someone in your organization should be responsible for moderating them and keeping them current. Parts of a organizational page The FAQ section is where you include the basic information about your organization. If you wish, you can also add special sections for programs, products, and services. The showcase page is a new feature where you can, well, showcase specific brands or products but you can also use it to promote fundraising events, membership benefits, or special interest groups—use your imagination! There are three types of images you can upload to an organizational profile:
Showcase pages can be used to spotlight a fundraising event or campaign for specific audiences. Learn more >
• The banner image displays at the top of your page. (size 640x220 px) • The standard logo will show up on the personal profiles of people who include your organization in their experience or volunteer sections. (size 100x60 px) • The square logo will display next to your organizational status updates. (size 50x50 px) • Accepted image formats include PNG, JPEG, or GIF
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Building Your Network Making connections Make sure you have staff, board and other volunteers who are on LinkedIn as a first level connection. Don’t forget about any major donors that you feel comfortable reaching out to—they are your best advocates! Then you’ll be able to see if they have a good contact with an organization, company or individual that you want to get to know. If you find someone you want to meet in person or by phone, call your first degree connection ask if they are willing make an introduction and set up a phone call or meeting with your prospect. Busy people usually don’t have time for meetings that have no agenda so make it worth their while and have something to say.
Once you have 50 connections, you can get a cool visualization of the diversity of your network from LinkedIn Maps.
The “Who’s viewed your profile?” feature lets you see who’s checked you out. If it’s someone of interest to you, go ahead and send a connection request or message. Whenever you meet someone out in the real world who may be a beneficial relationship, follow up with an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.
You can also use the “People You May Know” and “Advanced People Finder” tools to locate others you should have in your network. The best way to send a connection invite The default connection message is too generic and nonspecific. A personal note is much more effective. If you don’t know the person very well, say something about where you met or why a connection is mutually beneficial. For example:
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Dear Kathy, I see that we have quite a few LinkedIn connections in common and we also share an interest in animal welfare. I’d would like to include you in my network so we can stay in touch. Many thanks, Ann-Laura Parks, CFRE
Go for quality over quantity and only connect with people you know or where there is a clear association or “linkage” as we say in fundraising. LinkedIn is about building trusted relationships and random connections can devalue your network.
• Join groups that are related to your organization, or where you think you can find prospects.
• Need to move your contacts into your CRM? LinkedIn lets you export your contacts to a CSV file which is compatible with most databases.
You can post updates as yourself to your connections and as your organization to those who are following the page. Periodic updates will keep you and your organization in the minds of your connections and followers. Updates should be related to your work or area of expertise. Follow the principle of donor-centered communications—what do you have to say that your audience would find interesting, inspiring, helpful, or
• Segment your connections for targeted messaging by using tags in your contacts list.
educational? Add value, build trust.
Identify & Research Prospects I’m going to focus in what you can do with a free account but with the paid premium account, you will have access to more robust search features. If you find LinkedIn to be a useful tool, it might be worthwhile including funds for a premium account in your next budget. Advanced Search In the advanced search function, generate a search to find people who meet the criteria for what you are looking for. Useful
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search fields include name, keywords, location, company, industry, and alma mater. Say you’re the development director for a humane society in a metropolitan area, you might do a search on executives in your area who work with animal hospitals, pet supply companies, or animal boarding facilities. From your search results you can qualify prospects and see if there are any mutual connections to facilitate introductions. If your prospect’s visibility settings allow you to see their profile (I’ve found that most do), you can find out more information that will help you qualify them as a prospective donor, volunteer, or board member. One big drawback is that unless you have a paid account, you will not be able to see the full names of people outside of your personal network. Here’s a trick to get around that: from your favorite search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.) do a search on their organization, job title, and first name. Chances are their full name and contact info exists somewhere on the Internet. Find Board Members In addition to the steps outlined above, joining the Board Member Connect program developed by LinkedIn may provide you with high-quality leads. Organizations with a 501c3 can request to participate in the program which provides free access to the Talent Finder tool, educational resources, and membership in the Board Connect Group. Visit the Board Connect page or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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A FEW MORE TIPS • Use LinkedIn badges on your website to direct people to your profile. • Add LinkedIn to your email signature > • If you find yourself doing searches using the same criteria multiple times, select “Save search” (upper right) to save your future self a little effort.
Additional Resources LinkedIn 101 Learning Webinar > Succeeding with LinkedIn Board Member Connect > LinkedIn Nonprofit Groups > Nonprofit Company Pages > Company Pages Slide Deck > Volunteer Experience and Causes Field > Secure Pro Bono Talent Through LinkedIn > LinkedIn Checklist for Nonprofit Board Members > LinkedIn for Good Official Blog >
Monsterful - adj., Extraordinary & Wonderful fundraising and communications services Ann-Laura Parks, CFRE, has a unique skill set – including writing, design, and technology – and she delivers Monsterful results for every organization she’s worked with.
linkedin.com/in/annparks | twitter.com/BeMonsterful Front cover illustration: iStock/Jorgenmac
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