In the weeks leading up to Giving Tuesday a couple friends asked me the exact same question: “How can I use LinkedIn to generate support for a nonprofit?”
Both friends serve on the boards of local charities. They have large networks, and would like to be able to leverage those networks to get additional publicity and support for the organization. But they weren’t sure how to do it.
Here are five suggestions I shared with them – ways to promote your favorite nonprofits and causes using LinkedIn.
1. Add your charities and causes to your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn profiles have sections for Volunteer work and involvement in Organizations. LinkedIn includes this information on the profile because charitable involvement contributes significantly to skill development. According to LinkedIn’s stats, “One in five managers hired someone because of their volunteer experience.” Take advantage of these sections to talk about your involvement with the charities you support.
We typically use the Volunteer section for nonprofits and charities, and the Organization section for associations and professional societies. We also use Organization for leadership roles and committees. But you can be flexible – include your nonprofit wherever you think it fits best.
If you are on the organization’s board or hold a leadership role, include that in Organizations. You can give the nonprofit even greater exposure if you include your role as a job in the Experience section. (You can reorder the jobs so it shows up below your full-time job.)
Not yet involved with a nonprofit? In the Volunteer section, look for a question that asks “How would you like to donate your time and talent?” You can volunteer to be on a board or do pro bono work. LinkedIn has a matching service that will send you opportunities. You can also explore opportunities in LinkedIn for Volunteers.
For “Causes you care about,” you can select topics and causes that matter to you. Another section, “Organizations you support,” lets you enter your favorite organizations. As you fill in the organization, you’ll see a list of suggestions. If you don’t see your organization, enter it and it’ll still show. Listing the charities you support gives them more exposure and adds your stature to their cause.
2. Support the nonprofit’s LinkedIn activities.
Follow the nonprofit organization. If they post updates, you can help them by liking the update, commenting on it, and sharing it with your followers.
Do they have a LinkedIn group? Join it and contribute to the discussion. You can also invite your connections to join. In sending the message, describe what’s in it for them if they join the group.
3. Share information about your charity or cause.
An easy, low-key way to tell your connections about events and campaigns is to post status updates about your organization. Talk about upcoming events and why they are worth attending. Link to articles that mention the nonprofit in the news.
Encourage your connections to take action. You could ask them to visit the nonprofit’s LinkedIn page, LinkedIn group, or sign up for an email newsletter. These are small things to ask, and they make a good first step to introducing your connections to your organization.
If you’re comfortable with being more direct, use LinkedIn messages to send longer emails to your connections about events and giving opportunities.
4. Get corporate support.
Many corporations are willing to listen to potential giving opportunities. Some will agree to help. Use LinkedIn search to identify the person responsible for corporate giving at companies you target.
See if you have a connection in common with these individuals and request an introduction. If you don’t have a common connection, use an InMail to introduce yourself and the nonprofit.
5. Talk with the charity’s marketing team.
Most nonprofits have a LinkedIn Company Page where it can tell its story, highlight its mission, describe its programs, post volunteer opportunities, and share news, events, activities, and giving opportunities. Some have a Showcase Page for special campaigns or events, volunteer opportunities, support programs, and public services.
If yours doesn’t have a Company or Showcase page, you might contact their marketing team to suggest it. Considering more than 80 percent of LinkedIn’s 400 million+ members are interested in volunteering, there’s a lot of value in having a presence there.
With numbers like that, it’s also worth running sponsored content ads to get more exposure for local events or to promote specific giving campaigns. The ads allow organizations to reach a wider audience and target individuals by geography, title, company, industry, and more. These ads are reasonably priced, so the organization can do a fair bit on a small budget. They can always start small by doing a test to see how it works out.
Another possibility is to create a group for the organization where supporters can exchange ideas, share best practices, and build relationships.
To find talent and get information on making the most of LinkedIn for your nonprofit, visit https://nonprofits.linkedin.com/. It has a wealth of resources including webinars, tips for recruiting and building community, and examples of volunteer and board postings.
What are some other ways you support your favorite charities on LinkedIn? Share your tips in the comments below or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do a follow-up blog post.