How nonprofits can use LinkedIn effectively

In last week’s post, I wrote about how individuals can effectively use LinkedIn to network. Now let’s look at how nonprofits can use LinkedIn.

Find people

With over 75 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn is the leading platform in social media for professionals. Think of it as a database of people you can draw from to find:

Candidates

Finding employees is probably the most obvious use for LinkedIn. You can also use it to find out more about current candidates. Lots has been written on this topic, so I won’t go into much detail here.

Experts

Need a keynote speaker for an upcoming fundraiser? A consultant? An expert on child welfare issues in the Washington, D.C. area? Try LinkedIn’s Advanced Search, which allows you to search by name, location, keyword, industry, and a host of other categories.

Donors

If you’ve identified a prospective major donor, but don’t have any connection with the person, take a quick look on LinkedIn, which will show you if one of your contacts (or one of your contact’s contacts) knows the person. If so, you might be able to turn a cold lead into a warm one.

Before you contact the prospect, consider checking her LinkedIn profile to learn a little bit about her career path and interests, which may give you a better sense for her ability to give and for her affinities and affiliations.

Volunteers

The American Red Cross created a group on LinkedIn, American Red Cross Volunteers, to help its volunteers and staff network and share ideas, best practices, and expertise. Not only does the group help the Red Cross publicize opportunities to help, it also provides a huge benefit for its volunteers—an instant network of nearly 1,000 people who are also interested in the Red Cross.

Current employees and alums

By connecting with people who work or have worked at your organization, you can learn more about your organization’s employees and alumni. The secretary down the hall? Maybe she’s a member of the Social Media for Nonprofit group on LinkedIn and can help you use Facebook and Twitter to share the video you spent the last month putting together.

Want to partner with another nonprofit? Maybe a past employee of your organization works there now and can introduce you to the organization’s Partnerships Manager. You can use LinkedIn to search for current and/or past employees of your organization.

Share knowledge

Ask questions, share answers

LinkedIn’s Answers feature is designed to let people ask and respond to questions on a specific topic. In the Answers page for Non-profit Fundraising, for example, you can find out about organizations raising money for flood victims in Pakistan, pose a question of your own, find an expert on a particular topic, or chime in on the discussion about grants for animal welfare organizations.

Stay up-to-date on industry trends

If you want to keep up on trends related to your profession, consider joining some relevant Groups on LinkedIn. One way to find the best groups is to look at what groups others in your profession have joined.

Tell people about your organization

You can use LinkedIn’s Company Profile to share information about your organization’s mission and programs. You can also create a Group, which will allow fans of your organization to interact.

Note on LinkedIn for Good: In 2007 LinkedIn launched LinkedIn for Good, which works a little bit like Facebook Causes in that it allows approved nonprofits to solicit donations over LinkedIn. LinkedIn has only opened this feature up to a handful of nonprofits, and as of 2009, Twitter and Facebook helped nonprofits raise more money than LinkedIn. If you're interested in using social media to raise money, I'd suggest researching tools other than LinkedIn for Good first.