In the myriad of social media options available to non-profits today, Linkedin may be one of the most overlooked yet powerful tools available to fundraisers. While Facebook and Twitter are wonderful channels to promote your brand and tell your story, Linkedin is a masterful way to identify potential volunteers, board members, employees, and donors.

Step 1: Create a “Company” Page for you Non-Profit

Start with the basics: mission, vision and values. Don’t forget that donors want to read about your objectives so state them clearly and make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). The Company Page behaves a lot like a Facebook page in that it allows you to post status updates, share news, look for help (volunteers), and stay connected to donors and other companies that support you.

J. Kevin Wolfe from DonorDrive summarized the benefits of creating a non-profit company page on LinkedIn in an easy to understand way:

  • Put your non-profit in front of new donors: The LinkedIn user may not play in other social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Maximize the amount of people you can reach.
  • Connect corporate donors to your cause: Once your cause is listed, key players at corporations who donate to you will likely want to show their support by following your non-profit. This gives your non-profit clout, spurs popularity and can lead to further donations and involvement.
  • New social channel, new opportunities: LinkedIn is sometimes ignored as a social media powerhouse when compared to Facebook or Twitter, but that assumption is incorrect. You may find LinkedIn offers your non-profit more viable communication channels than any other social media service. Since this audience is comprised of a driven group of professionals, not just the public at large, it’s a worthwhile group of engaged users for you to court.

Step 2: Network!

Once your page is set up, ask your volunteers, board members, and supporters to follow your page. You should also request that your volunteers and board members add their experience with your organization on their own profiles using the Volunteer and Causes section. By doing this, your page can be “tagged” and it will broaden your reach through your supporters’ networks. Ask your staff and board to also click the Follow button on your company page – this not only shows solidarity but makes it easy for viewers to find and connect with your team.

Finding help: recruiting staff, board members and volunteers
Think of Linkedin as a gigantic digital rolodex for finding skills and talent. With 300M+ registered professionals– and 82% interested in volunteering, LinkedIn is the best place to ask for help, both for sporadic needs as for more permanent positions such as board members and staff.

So many professionals are looking for meaningful ways to give back to their community, you simply have to let people know what you are looking for. LinkedIn’s service called Nonprofit Solutions offers staff sourcing tools to the nonprofit community at significant price discounts, depending on region.

Consider creating a LinkedIn Nonprofit Group
Groups serve as the home for community building on LinkedIn, where individuals exchange best practices, explore new concepts, and establish new relationships around a central theme. A word of caution about Groups: in order for your group to grow, you’ll need someone to act as manager of the group to curate content and facilitate the online conversation. If you have or make the resources available, a group can be a great way to inspire conversation and stimulate discussions that engage your audience and even move some to become advocates. Groups allow supporters to connect with one another, increasing the strength and numbers of their tie-backs to your organization. The tone for your group should be in keeping with your overall brand strategy. Language and content should reflect your organization’s personality and only share relevant content – relevant to your audience, not just relevant to the organization.  Encourage conversation and allow members to spread your message to other groups and forums – don’t use it as a one-way street! Remember to only create a group if you have the time to manage it.

Create a Following, not Friends.
It’s important to stay focused on business within Linkedin. If you want your organization to catch the attention of corporate sponsors or decision makers who are looking for a cause to contribute to, your content has to be informative, provocative, but most of all professional. The cute kitten videos can stay on YouTube and Facebook. LinkedIn is not the place for goofy GIFs or Gandhi quotes. Instagram and Pinterest are perfect for those. Instead, use Linkedin to see what your industry contacts and donors are up to. Find out what they’re reading and liking, and what they’re interested in. Participate in the conversations wherever and however often possible. Be visible!

LinkedIn is no longer just a place to post a resume or look for a job. It’s become a vital business tool for professionals, companies and non-profits. Time to get on board and discover its true potential!

To learn more about Company pages, groups and more visit http://www.nonprofits.linkedin.com