Brent Grinna is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub and the founder and CEO of EverTrue, a leading social donor management platform. EverTrue harnesses social data to help higher education institutions raise more money and better engage alumni.
Building relationships with donors is crucial for every type of nonprofit. Giving USA reported that more than $300 billion was donated to charities in 2013, with nearly 70 percent of those donations coming from individuals. And research has shown that donors give more when they have personal ties with a charity.
One of the most efficient ways to connect with your constituents is through social media. LinkedIn, in particular, is a largely untapped resource for building direct relationships, and the site’s mission to connect the world’s professionals and empower them to be more productive and successful extends to nonprofit fundraising professionals
Forward-thinking fundraisers who are utilizing LinkedIn’s features for advancement are breaking through the walls to meet new donors where they are.
LinkedIn’s New Features for Fundraisers
Here are two areas that many fundraising platforms can’t deliver on:
Offline donations: Most crowdfunding platforms—like GoFundMe and Kickstarter—attract smaller, one-time online gifts. LinkedIn is well suited for in-person relationship building that will support larger gifts being sought by annual fund and major gift fundraisers.
Tracking of donor data: Many crowdfunding sites aren’t reliable in gathering accurate donor information because many donors can give anonymously or omit important data that could be used in the future.
However, by utilizing LinkedIn’s new features, nonprofits can achieve three important goals:
Find donors. LinkedIn is largely uncharted territory for identifying and reaching donors, especially that critical pool of middle-of-the-pyramid donors. A 2013 study showed that more than 50 percent of “Mass Affluent” people (i.e., those with $100,000 to $1 million in assets) are on LinkedIn. And the highly accurate career and Shared Connections data on LinkedIn—which is critical to success in fundraising—is perhaps the site’s greatest strength.
Find board members. LinkedIn Board Member Connect enables nonprofits to leverage their own networks and those of their board members to strengthen the organization’s governing boards. The advanced search feature even allows nonprofits to pinpoint specific personal and professional experiences while searching for candidates so you can identify high-quality candidates in six easy steps.
Find volunteers. LinkedIn members can express interest in volunteering or serving on a nonprofit board on their profile. Since this feature’s introduction last year, more than 1 million members have indicated an interest in volunteering. LinkedIn makes it possible to identify those volunteers. Keep in mind that volunteers donate 10 times more than other Americans.
LinkedIn in Action
After Boston University announced plans to raise $1 billion through donations, many of the team’s fundraisers prioritized outreach by utilizing insights from LinkedIn. The BU team is well on its way toward achieving its goal.
Albuquerque Academy, a small independent, coeducational school for grades 6-12, has integrated LinkedIn into its existing fundraising workflows. In doing so, the development team is building stronger relationships with supporters, and alumni donations have increased by more than $3.3 million. While all of this success might not be directly due to LinkedIn efforts, the introduction of this platform has proven significant.
Just like so many for-profit businesses have harnessed LinkedIn to improve marketing and sales, nonprofits are now discovering how the site’s new features can help them improve their fundraising efforts, bolster their volunteer base, and build lasting relationships with donors. By getting your entire fundraising organization—from top executives to interns—set up on LinkedIn, you’ll uncover new ways to more deeply connect with your donors and prospects.