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Should Your Nonprofit Be On LinkedIn?

LinkedIn Can Be Valuable Partner for Nonprofits

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Should Your Nonprofit Be On LinkedIn?

Most people think of LinkedIn when they want to find a job, advance their professional careers, or find new employees. But LinkedIn is also a great place for nonprofits.

Now a public company, LinkedIn connects with 161 million (as of 3/12) affluent, influential professionals from 200 countries.

Nonprofits are on LinkedIn for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Finding experts that can help them solve problems. In The Networked Nonprofit, authors Beth Kanter and Allison Fine imagine a networked board meeting that enjoys the input of several experts on the problem of new biofuel additives that are showing up in fresh water estuaries. A subcommittee of the board found those experts by searching on LinkedIn for people with experience and skills in that area.

    In a similar way, Dupe Ajayi and Megan McDonald of the Taproot Foundation told Heather Mansfield of Nonprofit Tech 2.0 that "LinkedIn is a perfect space for us as we are targeting professionals with a specific skill set. Our LinkedIn group for Active pro bono consultants is a great place where these people can connect based on a current interest, giving back using their current skills."

    Connecting, recruiting, and assessing skills of volunteers. In a guest post at Beth Kanter's blog, Robert J. Rosenthal of VolunteerMatch said, "...a VC [volunteer coordinator] might also have her own Twitter feed or blog category to share new opportunities The VC could also use her own professional networks to target special skill sets (such as at LinkedIn)."

    Scott Stevenson, author of 87 Ways to Make Your Website More Volunteer Friendly, said in an interview with Energize, Inc,, "...social networking applications are impacting everyone’s behavior, including volunteers. These Web 2.0 applications offer an additional way of publicizing volunteer opportunities and enabling volunteers and would-be volunteers to network more easily with one another.

  • Connecting with Donors. Rebecca Zanatta, Major Gift Officer for the Pacific Science Center, says that when traveling she was able to connect with donors and prominent alumni in the area she would be visiting with a 95% response rate. Watch a video in which Zanatta explains how she used LinkedIn in this way. (Thanks to 501Videos.com for making the video available and to Marc Pitman for calling my attention to it.

  • Connecting with people you might not otherwise know. In The Dragonfly Effect, authors Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith explain how the Obama team set out to connect with 15 social networks during his presidential campaign. Among those was LinkedIn. They asked a question on the site, "What are your suggestions for helping small business?" Many small business owners weighed in and Obama was able to engage in a conversation with people he might never have met otherwise.

LinkedIn should not be the only social network your nonprofit uses, or even the primary one. But in conjunction with others such as Facebook and Twitter it can be very useful. All of these efforts add up in the long run.

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