I have been asked by many charities to help them use LinkedIn for brand building. However, to my surprise, almost all of them have not yet accounted for it in their marketing budget this year! Of course, this is completely reasonable – many people simply don’t understand the power of LinkedIn as a marketing and fundraising tool.
If this is you…
• You know that LinkedIn can be a marketing and fundraising tool
• You’ve already spent your yearly budget training or outsourcing marketers and fundraisers.
And, if you are like many other non-profits, your goals are probably to…
• Build your brand
• Attract volunteers and board members
• Generate awareness
…Then, read below for some tips to get the most out of LinkedIn!
In fact, LinkedIn is not social media. It is professional media – which means that you can easily locate and target specific people and companies. Below are our tips to help you get the most out of LinkedIn for your non profit or charity to build awareness, create a community, raise money, and attract board members and volunteers: Why spend money on Facebook ads when your ROI can be 10 times as much?
PROBLEM 1: BRAND AWARENESS AND CONSISTENT MESSAGING
SOLUTION: A Charity Business Page, Employee Profiles
A study done by Social Media Today showed that content shared by employees receive 8 TIMES more engagement than content shared by brand channels (your website or any social media accounts). And, the SAME brand message reaches almost 6 times further when shared by employees than the official brand social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc).
And, what better place to leverage your enthusiastic employee base than LinkedIn – where there are over 165,000 non profit pages– and professional connections are born? Post stories about your charity, industry news, feel-good success stories, opportunities to volunteer, and encourage your staff to share with their network. With a scheduled and carefully planned company-wide social media strategy, your message could be sent to entirely new audiences each week!
Remember to create some custom designs and logos for the banner image space – visually engaging images, infographics, and videos generate engagement rates up to 87% higher than just text alone.
However, this strategy falls short when your employees do not communicate YOUR brand on their profiles. Ensure that your profile and that of all your staff creates a clear first impression about:
• Who your charity supports
• The impact you have, and
• How people can help you
Be sure your employees address why they are working for your charity – and most importantly, why – starting with yourself! Chances are, people have a vague idea of WHAT you do, but do you really think that people know EXACTLY what you do? You don’t just work at a charity, you have a function which create a difference – Are you in communications, sponsorship, marketing, volunteer coordination, or program implementation?
Let’s look at Suzanne Scott’s LinkedIn Profile.
• Headline – don’t just write “fundraiser”, write “helping the families of sick children in need”
• Summary – Ensure your contact details are front and centre in your summary – you can copy and paste from my profile if you want! The body of your summary should address: why you do what you do, what you do, who you help, and how people can help you.
Finally, your employees should be encouraged to include links to your website, a “donate now” page, a volunteer page, or even upload press and media kits onto their profile. For offices, one of our most popular products is the “team re-branding” package, where we create a customized template for your company and employees’ LinkedIn profiles – This is a great way to ensure that your employees maintain and communicate a consistent brand.
PROBLEM 2: GENERATING AWARENESS
SOLUTION: A Charity / Event Group
If you already have a separate website where fundraising teams can login and see their monies raised in comparison, have you thought about start a group where they can interact with each other and other participants – not just you? If so, you’re not the only one – with over 2 million groups on LinkedIn, creation and nurturing becomes a vital tool in sponsorship.
- People are on there already: 25% of the population in BC are on LinkedIn. Don’t ask them to keep an eye on one more forum, keep them updated on a platform that is already in use – and this is social media. LinkedIn groups are much like Facebook groups… but with WAY more features, such as community forums, volunteer opportunities, fundraising ideas, sponsored events. A LinkedIn group can connect you directly to people who are interested in your cause.
- Managers Choice: Once a week you can send a message directly to your members’ inbox – one of the biggest frustrations as a participant is that I get inundated with emails. This does not mean you have to stop sending emails around your event times, but the likelihood is that people will stay in the group after the event (they will not be checking your external site) and this is a way to stay in contact. This feature can also be leveraged into your sponsorship package as outreach opportunities.
- Dynamic: All volunteers, members, and donors can interact with one another, and seek ask advice on people who have participated before, creating a community that supports and encourages each other. Imagine – One of your participants met a cool chick in the beer garden after the GranFondo and can’t find her card – no problem – he can search her in the group and send a direct message, and voila! Your charity group has now become a resource for people wanting to stay in touch with other professionals who have like minded interests or causes.
- Not just for fundraising: Groups are a great support network for families whose loved ones are experiencing an illness or disease.
PROBLEM 3: FUNDRAISING
SOLUTION: Sponsored Updates, A comprehensive marketing strategy on LinkedIn
This study by Aberdeen Group shows that 72.6% of salespeople who consistently used social selling as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers AND exceeded their quota 23% more often. So, how can LinkedIn help you funraise?
ADVANCED SEARCHES: Are you looking for sponsors or perhaps people to give in kind donations? If you have a free account, you can use a boolean search – or, if you have LinkedIn Premium, you can leverage the advanced search filters. We always say that LinkedIn is not social media – it is a database of professionals. For example, you could look for people in a certain location (Vancouver, Seattle) and then filter or people in key decision making positions in those companies.
- Are there obvious supporters in certain industries? For example, SPCA might reach out to pet food suppliers or stores.
- Are you launching a campaign to encourage biking to work week? Focus on health and wellness industry.
Target the industries who are sympathetic or directly related to your cause, or even media support. LinkedIn allows you to search for specific industries – vitamin stores, pharmaceuticals. tent suppliers, A/V and sound equipment – just to name a few.
PROBLEM 4: ATTRACTING VOLUNTEERS AND BOARD MEMBERS
SOLUTION: Personal Outreach, LinkedIn for Non-Profits
Here are 2 features you can use towards your campaigns:
1. KEEP IN CONTACT: On the top right of your home page, you can now see whose birthday it is, who has a work anniversary, or a new job. Use this as an opportunity to reach out to existing connections – Maybe someone in your network has started working for a big mining company who are known to donate to events. This is a prime tool to nurture relationships with your network. You never know when someone can be a potential participant, sponsor or partner. A simple tip is to reach out and say:
“Happy work anniversary, just touching base to see how you are. I am sure you already know but I work at [charity]. We have a couple of big events coming up this fall which I am really looking forward to. We have just started a company page if you wish to follow it for updates.”
This not only reminds them of what you do (or tells them in case they don’t know), it also gives you the opportunity to get a new follower to your company page.
2. VIEWING PROFILES: It's simple – find your target audience and start viewing their profiles – we even use software for our clients to automate this process, viewing over 1,000 individuals a day. Naturally, they will start to view you back, wondering why you were looking at them. You will have listened to my advice, and optimized your profile with key messaging about your charity, and now these targets have been exposed to this – so even if they don’t view you back they will see your optimized headline. Even if they do not view you back you will have gained some real marketing opportunities. Remember – half the battle is about building awareness!
The Board Member Connect & Volunteer Marketplace helps you locate potential board members with search criteria including location, title, function and years of experience, and free volunteer opportunities through their partners – professionals in helping you connect with incredible volunteers.
Nonprofits can capitalize on the opportunity to set up a LinkedIn Board Member Connect profile (BMC) – a method to help you find talented people that are passionate about your cause and want to take their involvement to the next level. BMC exists to bring nonprofits and individuals together not only to find potential board members, but to share best practices in governance, and ideas for running effective nonprofit boards.
LinkedIn is a complex and always-changing tool for marketing and fundraising. Done well with an end-to-end strategy and complete employee engagement, it can directly contribute to and elevate your cause. Your employees are your biggest advocate! LinkedIn is a great place for your colleagues and volunteers to connect personally, yet professionally, in a direct way to their networks.
If you have any questions about using LinkedIn for your non-profit or charity, or just want to know where to start, I would be happy to chat!