Fundraising on LinkedIn is often overlooked. However, as one of the world’s largest professional networks, it’s an ideal platform to attract corporate sponsorships for your nonprofit.
We often think of LinkedIn as a great place to look for jobs or get recruited, but it is much more than that. There are over 610 million members on LinkedIn. Plus, four out of five members are the corporate sponsorship decision-makers in their companies. Think about that for a minute.
What’s the best way to get larger amounts of funding in one sitting or as recurring income? A corporate sponsor.
As a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization, you continually look for ways to connect with professionals that will help you reach your fundraising goals. What are you currently doing to meet the fundraising requirements for your organization? How can you connect with more donors?
Perhaps you attend networking events or you speak at Chamber of Commerce functions to connect with the leaders of local businesses. Do you often find yourself in a position where you have to:
- First, explain who you represent,
- then exchange important information to pique interest,
- and finally, attempt to find the right person to contact for a corporate donation?
LinkedIn is one of the most effective and efficient places to meet these key contacts. Imagine having an ongoing networking event with qualified participants available to you 24/7. That’s what we’re talking about when we look at fundraising on LinkedIn. Here are six steps you need to take in order to attract corporate sponsorships through LinkedIn.
1. Set up your Organization’s Company Page
Start by setting up a LinkedIn page for your organization. It’s important to have strong branding and messaging. This is your opportunity to discuss your mission and purpose.
- Illustrate how you serve your mission.
- Include how the funds from a recent event or fundraiser impact lives in your community.
- Use pictures and connect to your website as well.
- Provide contact information and your nonprofit status.
There are many helpful tutorials to help you set up your organization’s page right within the LinkedIn platform.
If you are part of a larger organization, connect with your “Mother Ship.” Make sure that your page is set up as an affiliate page with your parent organization. This will give you more credibility and a larger network. If you need help with setting up an affiliation, LinkedIn has instructions available.
2. Connect Your Organization’s Company Page
First, make your page more inviting with social proof. Encourage all members of the Board of Directors, committee chairs and members, staff, and volunteers to follow your page. Those who are on the board, volunteer, or serve in your organization can add themselves as an “employee” as well. This will list your organization on their page and their profile on yours.
Then, ask your friends and personal network to follow the page. Invite all who show an interest in your organization’s work and mission to connect to your company page.
Last, make sure you place the LinkedIn icon prominently on your website alongside your other social media profiles. Ask for the connection in as many places as you can. Remember that you are a business as well as a nonprofit organization.
3. Establish a Strategic Network
Aside from your immediate network, you can also find others to connect to on LinkedIn. Members are business professionals who are accustomed to others approaching them on this site. Try to connect to individuals in the social responsibility or philanthropy industries. Most nonprofit or social good-oriented staff members are part of LinkedIn. Find those who are most aligned with your mission or might benefit from sponsoring your cause.
You should also spend time surfing through the platform to search out local businesses. To find businesses instead of people, make sure you choose “Companies” while you search.
Most company pages list the number of followers and the number of employees who have LinkedIn personal profiles. The list will also highlight your personal connections who are attached to that company. If you know someone who works for a company you’re targeting, connect to and engage with them on LinkedIn. Then when the time is right, you can ask them for a referral to the person who can provide a corporate donation.
To really engage personally with each connection, check out their company and profile pages to find out more information about them. Look at their interests and pinpoint additional strategic information while you’re searching. This information gives you an “in” to a conversation. Eventually, it will lead to an opportunity to ask for an introduction, present an upcoming fundraising event, or solicit support for an ongoing campaign.
Another important result of using LinkedIn for fundraising is gaining access to your supporters’ connections. Your supporters will share your content with their connections if you have an up-to-date LinkedIn business page, show your involvement by answering questions, and treat all extended connections with respect and courtesy.
Here are people who know you and take an interest in what you do professionally. Do you not think they would be willing to connect you with the right person? Ask for the referral. Even if their company cannot sponsor your organization, you might gain the support of a few loyal individual donors in the process.
4. Update Your Company Page Status
Status updates deliver interesting and relevant facts as well as fundraising asks to your nonprofit’s network. Establish a schedule to push this information and make it consistent. Publish updates once a week, twice a week, or even daily. Tidbits showing how donations benefit your community are the best kinds of content for nonprofits to share on LinkedIn.
A word of caution here: do not overuse the Status Update.
You may annoy your valuable followers by posting several times a day or week. It depends on what you’re posting. Posting too much unvaluable content will lose supporters. Even if they stay in your network, they will begin to skip over your posts as nothing important or relevant. Make this a “best” posting. Keep it short and deliver great content.
As the fundraiser in your organization, you are in a unique position to use your own status updates as well. This allows you to “advertise” your organization more often. Use your status to re-share your company page updates and provide additional information of your own.
5. Start and Participate in Groups
Find LinkedIn groups that are pertinent to fundraising or relevant to your mission. Join and then participate regularly. Get the feel of the discussion that happens in the group. Ask and answer questions and make sure you abide by the rules of the group.
The next step is to start your own group. Invite all your page followers and relevant personal connections to join. Then ask them to invite their connections. Keep the topics relevant and encourage dialogue. Post pictures and have some fun with this, but keep it professional.
Here is an opportunity to really connect with your network and let them connect with others. Groups are a very effective tool for telling stories and transparency. They make you more approachable. Funding will follow.
6. Assign a Person to the Task
It’s important to consistently maintain and pay attention to your LinkedIn Company page and groups. Assign a staff person or volunteer if you don’t plan to directly manage fundraising on LinkedIn for your organization. Keeping your company page up to date does take some time, so choose this person wisely. Make sure they have the time and social media skills to manage LinkedIn for your nonprofit.
Use Fundraising on LinkedIn to Gain Corporate Sponsorships
Using LinkedIn allows you to connect on a deeper level with donors, volunteers, and staff in a place where professionals congregate. Building a strong community is crucial to sustaining a nonprofit. The connections you make on LinkedIn are business people with business interests.
Philanthropy is a huge part of today’s successful company and personal career path. Find the people and companies whose corporate culture aligns with your nonprofit organization’s purpose and mission. Do the digging and search out the right connections.
Most importantly, make sure your online fundraising campaigns are set up to encourage major gifts.