How to be a Fundraising Opportunist on LinkedIn
By Heather Blue
Opportunities. Throughout our lives we see them, take them and benefit from them. They can mean a chance to learn, to meet someone, to share, to challenge ourselves or to make an impact. Sometimes we miss opportunities because we’re too busy, too tired, or just don’t know how to take advantage of them.
When I was recently invited to write this article and share my LinkedIn expertise with professional fund-raisers across Canada, I saw it as an opportunity. With a tight deadline and competing priorities, I could have easily taken a pass. This was an opportunity I had to take for the following reasons:
- I am passionate about the power of LinkedIn to help people achieve their goals;
- I am an entrepreneur who believes in my business and wants it to succeed;
- I know that many LinkedIn members, including fundraising and development professionals, are missing opportunities to use LinkedIn as a professional tool to help them achieve their goals and objectives.
Just as this article presents an opportunity for me to share my knowledge, get exposure and make business connections that could lead to meaningful work, LinkedIn presents multiple opportunities for fundraising professionals to fulfill their fundraising goals.
Let’s take a closer at two key opportunities:
Opportunity 1: Build a LinkedIn presence that is donor-centric
Include a LinkedIn summary that shares your passion for the cause, speaks to the needs and interests of your donors (past, present and future), and communicates how you serve them and other supporters of the organization. Even though your profile is OF you, it shouldn’t be ABOUT you.
The summary section of your LinkedIn profile is the ideal place to tell the story of your organization, and clearly answer your donor's, prospect's and supporter's question: What’s In It for Me (WIIFM)? Your LinkedIn summary provides a great opportunity to communicate with your target audience and demonstrate your commitment to them.
Make it easy for your donors to reach you and stay engaged by ensuring the Contact Info section of your profile is complete and includes your organization’s mailing address, your preferred phone number and your professional email address. This section also provides the opportunity to include live links for up to three websites (or pages) of your choice. It allows you to customize these links with branded and client-focused descriptions. Consider using this feature to direct readers to your organization’s main website, your “donations” page and perhaps your “impact” or “stories” page.
Extend and accept connection requests to and from past, present and future donors, volunteers, employees, community members and friends of the organization. These constituents should definitely be included as 1st degree connections. When extending connection requests, always remember to personalize your message.
Use the Status Update and Home tab feature regularly to share timely information that would be of interest to your donors and other supporters. Increase engagement and enrich your relationships by “liking,” “sharing,” “commenting” and posting content that thanks donors and volunteers, promotes events, shares news about the organization and community, announces campaign launches and celebrates major gifts.
Opportunity 2: Use LinkedIn to identify prospects and develop your pipeline
Sometimes prospects may be closer or easier to find than you think. Your next major donor may already be within your existing LinkedIn network of 1st, 2nd, 3rd degree connections and fellow group members.
If you have built a strong LinkedIn network of connections with a diversity of ages, career stages, professional roles, employers and geographic locations, your 1st and 2nd degree connections may be a reasonable source of potential prospects.
Read through individual LinkedIn profiles to gain valuable insights and learn more about your existing connections. See what you have in common: where they went to school, what they’ve done in their career, where they’ve lived, who they’ve worked for, what their interests are, where they volunteer, what projects they’ve worked on and what their giving capacity may be.
LinkedIn provides a handy little CRM tool that lets you add notes and customizable tags to categorize your connections and contacts. Prospecting and identifying potential donors takes time, so be patient and you will gain a great appreciation of the potential of your network.
LinkedIn is an incredible database of information that is easy to access once you understand how to use the LinkedIn Advanced Search feature using key words and Boolean search operators and modifiers. See the LinkedIn’s cheat sheet: http://talent.linkedin.com/assets/Product-Pages/Training/TipSheet-BooleanSearching.pdf.
Find potential prospects by using key words that may be included in their LinkedIn profile. Your ability to find people is only limited by the size of your network, your LinkedIn membership classification and your mastery of the search function. You can truly find almost anyone on LinkedIn!
By seizing these opportunities and learning how to leverage LinkedIn as a multi-purpose tool, you will improve your ability to communicate and engage with donors past, present and future in ways you may never have thought of but that ultimately will help you achieve your fundraising goals.
Heather Blue owns and operates bizpixplus based in Kingston ON. She helps people and organizations build a professional online presence and leverage LinkedIn to achieve professional goals. Heather enthusiastically shares her social media expertise with others so that they can develop their confidence and competence in using social media productively and professionally. She was a recent guest speaker, presenting on this topic at the AFP, South Eastern Ontario learning luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015.For more information please contact Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-329-0250.
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