In How to Use LinkedIn to Give Donors a Reason to Connect with You we looked at ways to make folks want to learn more about you. Today we’re going to look at how you can bond with folks and make them receptive to becoming more involved and invested with your cause.
What I like about these strategies is they’re relatively easy and won’t consume a lot of your time. And the payoff should be big.
LinkedIn is a veritable treasure trove of opportunity that goes largely overlooked by most nonprofits. And that’s a shame! In addition to being super useful for finding new prospects, researching existing donors and building your brand identity, thought leadership and credibility, it’s a virtual way to build relationships with folks when you can’t get up close and personal.
As in my recent article, I’m borrowing from strategies outlined by Robbie Abed in Build Better Relationships on LinkedIn Using These 3 Simple Steps. His article is not specifically directed to nonprofits, but the principles apply. And I’m going to show you how!
1. Identify the top 15 people you can help in the next six months.
I love this idea because I often say if you want gifts, you must give them. When it comes to building donor relationships you must think more about helping, not selling.
People are generally on LinkedIn to build their professional networks so they can get a leg up in their careers. Think about how you might be able to help them with this.
- Perhaps they’re in the job market, and joining one of your committees could help them build valuable connections?
- Perhaps you have a volunteer opportunity that might look good on their resume or impress their boss?
- Did you know if you’re looking for new board members you can post the “job” into the LinkedIn jobs network, and they’ll match with folks looking for exactly this type of opportunity?
Don’t worry so much about intruding; think more about including.
Often your prospect isn’t finding great personal meaning in their work, and getting more engaged with you can fill a hole in their life. Offering such an opportunity would be a great way to add value, don’t you think?
Think about how you can meaningfully include donors in your mission.
Who among your LinkedIn connections would you love to meet?
Abed suggests you begin by exporting your LinkedIn connections to an Excel spreadsheet. Review them and highlight those who spark your interest (Abed suggests you do so in chronological order, beginning with those to whom you first connected).
Now take the highlighted names and copy them into a new spreadsheet.
This will become the beginnings of your LinkedIn Prospect Portfolio.
Who outside your LinkedIn network would you like to connect with?
If you have more prospects than you can handle already, you may not wish to take this next step. However, I would never have found the donor who made a six-figure gift to my organization if I hadn’t gone outside my current connections.
I suggest beginning with your small and mid-level donors to see if you find any names of well-known philanthropists in your community who are making only token gifts to you. See if you can get connected to them through a current connection, or simply by inviting them to connect with you. Take some time to look up and add names of people outside your network to the spreadsheet.
Add these names to flesh out your LinkedIn Prospect Portfolio.
2. Dedicate 15 minutes a day to purposely learn and engage with your list on LinkedIn.
As you build your list you’ll want to be sure to respond to any new messages, notifications, or connection requests.
Stay away from auto-respond if you truly want to build relationships. Be personal. Don’t simply hit “accept.” Visit their profile to see what you can learn that may inform your response. At the least, send a welcoming message expressing gratitude to this person for reaching out. Let them know you’re there to be helpful.
If you’re notified someone is celebrating an anniversary, got promoted, took on a new job, etc., send a special response to congratulate them. Again, don’t pick one of the automated options offered to you by LinkedIn (to me, that’s the equivalent of sending a Hallmark card without any personal note).
For folks you know well, you can also endorse their skills or write a recommendation for them on LinkedIn.
Use your LinkedIn Prospect Portfolio to engage with your prospects and add value to their lives.
First, do a little research for the folks on your list who are currently outside your network. Visit their profile and see where it takes you. Sometimes folks will have their own blogs, videos or podcasts to which you can go to learn even more.
See what you can relate to. Can you find something on which to compliment them? Everyone loves flattery! But don’t do this unless you can be genuine. If they wrote a book or article, read it and see what you can relate to and/or endorse. If you see they serve on the board of the art museum, tell them about your children’s art therapy program of which they may be unaware. Check out their hobbies and interests and groups. I once noticed that at the very top of one of my prospect’s profiles he’d listed “corporate responsibility.” Bingo! Find a connection, a shared interest or some other way in.
Find a way to add value. With Mr. Corporate Responsibility, I was able to offer some volunteer opportunities for the company’s employees. Go back to your ‘help, don’t sell’ mantra. There’s a time for selling/asking, of course. But not before you build the relationship.
A fundamental of successful fundraising, just like successful sales, is relationship-building.
Fundraising has always been about building relationships with people who are, or will be, ready, willing and able to give.
At the end of the day, people give to what they value.
That’s the essence of philanthropy. People value relationships. People value someone – YOU – telling them specifically how they can be the change they want to see in the world. People value being able to accomplish their goals as easily as possible.
Your job is to help them.
How to Use LinkedIn to Give Donors a Reason to Connect with You
Your Nonprofit Can Do a Lot More on LinkedIn Than You Think
Also see my Pinterest board: Linking in?