Chances are, as an advancement professional, you already have a LinkedIn account. With 300 million users and growing, LinkedIn has emerged as the world’s definitive professional network. A LinkedIn profile can unlock incredible networking opportunities, making it a necessity not only for job seekers navigating today’s job market but also for fundraisers like you to connect with your major gift donors and prospects.
If you’re like the majority of major gifts professionals, you might be a bit incredulous when we say that large donors have the time, energy, and desire to be part of social networks like LinkedIn. But before you count LinkedIn out, consider these telling (maybe even surprising) stats:
- Nearly half of LinkedIn users (49%) have household incomes over $100,000
- 64% of LinkedIn members agree that organizations should not only be present but also interact with their consumers via social media (like LinkedIn)
- 40% of LinkedIn users log in daily
That means your major gifts donors and prospects are on LinkedIn and expect you to speak to them using the platform on a regular, if not daily, basis. And since your business is in identifying, building, and maintaining relationships with your donors, LinkedIn is exactly where you want to be.
While you can certainly reap the benefits of LinkedIn with a free basic membership, there’s a huge advantage to buying a Premium account if you’re a major gifts officer; Premium’s features can accelerate your relationships with donors and prospects, helping you make smarter, more meaningful asks.
Here are the top five ways Premium can put you on the fast track to fundraising success:
1. Identify the Right Donors With Premium Search
LinkedIn has an extremely powerful search function that, even with a free account, allows you to conduct advanced searches using filters such as school, company, and location. Click “Advanced” next to the search bar at the top of the page to access these filters.
While the basic filters do have utility, LinkedIn Premium lets you focus your searches even further with up to eight additional filters, including shared groups, seniority level, and Fortune 1000. By narrowing your search results with Premium filters, you can identify the prospects that fit all of your criteria in one easy go. And inarguably, the more information you know about your major prospects and donors, the deeper your relationships will be.
2. Research Prospects More Efficiently With Saved Search
Not only does Premium allow for more fine-tuned searches but it also lets you save your searches (up to five each week). So if you’ve nailed down the perfect search criteria for your major prospects, you can simply create a “Saved Search,” and LinkedIn will send you email alerts whenever there are new individuals who fill your criteria. No need to retrace the steps of that complicated search you performed three weeks ago! With saved search, you can set up real-time alerts to notify you when donors have acquired new jobs, added new skills, or moved to a new region.
3. Gather More Donor Data With Full Profile View
One of the best features of Premium is that it allows you to see the full profiles of everyone in your LinkedIn network, including 3rd-degree connections and group members. That gives you access to 35x more profiles than you’d have with a basic account (which only provides a limited view of distant connections).
This increase in donor information can help you better understand the makeup of a potential donor and his/her capacity to give regardless of whether you have mutual connections, making Premium’s full profile view a valuable tool to optimize your asks.
4. Connect With Prospects Through InMail
Trying to track down the most current email address or phone number of a prospect or donor? Premium gives you the ability to message anyone on LinkedIn through InMail. Needless to say, this is a great feature for connecting with your donors to set up meetings and, more importantly, to casually check in and keep up with them. It’s quick and non-invasive and ensures that you won’t waste your time with disconnected numbers and returned emails.
5. Optimize Your Alumni Outreach With an Introduction
Sometimes cold-calling or cold-messaging a prospect isn’t the best approach if you want a guaranteed response. If this is the case, you’ll want to utilize the “Introductions” feature on Premium. How does it work? If someone you know is connected to a prospect who isn’t in your network, you can ask him/her to introduce you to the prospect. Since people are more apt to trust those with whom they have a mutual friend or connection, this method is much more likely to breed a response.
From collecting donor data to developing strong relationships with those donors and prospects to making the ask, LinkedIn should be an integral part of your major gifts fundraising efforts.
Before you upgrade to LinkedIn Premium and start reaching out to donors, be sure to optimize your profile with our 2014 LinkedIn Checklist for Advancement.