Editor’s Note: In 2023 we’re going to introduce several guest bloggers. This blog post was written by LinkedIn expert and consultant, Judy Schramm. If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, let us know. You can follow Brighter Strategies on LinkedIn, here.
Do you know any nonprofit board members who feel lukewarm about their organization?
No? I don’t either. It’s like looking for an unenthusiastic entrepreneur; they simply don’t exist.
Anyone who joins a board feels passionate about the cause. They are for them. They devote their time, wisdom, business acumen, and negotiating skills to further the mission of the organization. A lot of them do it for free — on top of full-time jobs, family, and professional responsibilities.
In addition to their fiduciary and oversight responsibilities, you’ll find board members attending and hosting events, donating and fundraising, and fulfilling multiple other roles. Knowing their support and engagement are crucial to the organization’s momentum and success, it seems board members will deploy every available tool to advance their cause.
Many of these board members are also LinkedIn members, and they regularly log in with business on their minds. LinkedIn has become an essential element of many businesses, but what if I told you that it offers multiple opportunities to build community and champion your nonprofit, too? And it’s easier than you may think. Consider these five steps:
#1 Engage On LinkedIn
Is your organization on LinkedIn? Probably — many nonprofit organizations see the value of using the platform to educate, fundraise, promote events, and build community. (And if it’s not on LinkedIn, encourage them to get there quickly — they are missing tremendous opportunities.)
Search for your organization and follow it; find other members and people you serve with and connect with them. This networking will bolster the organization’s profile.
When you see posts by your nonprofit, take one — or all — of these actions:
- Click one of the response buttons (Like, Celebrate, Support, Funny, etc.).
- Take 30 seconds and write a quick comment of encouragement or insight about the post. You’ll be amazed at how much it means to the organization or individual.
- Share the post on your news feed — expanding its reach. You can share without comment, but you’ll get more bang for the buck if you add one or two sentences of your own and a relevant hashtag or two.
These three, very quick actions not only raise an organization’s visibility but also boost morale in the organization and its credibility in your community. In an informal survey by our team, nonprofit execs said that when board members support and amplify the message, it comes across as, “This organization is worth taking seriously.” People listen differently, and it makes a difference!
#2 Champion the Organization on LinkedIn
Savvy business people use LinkedIn to educate and influence their various shareholders — investors, employees, recruits, and the media. Posting original content enables them to tell their story in exactly the way they want it told.
The same holds true for the organization you serve — it has a story that should be told from your perspective. What’s new, happening, or unique about the organization? Why are they significant or needed in your community or the world?
If you have time and inclination, a regular blog post goes a long way in telling the story of your cause and grabbing attention for it.
Or, perhaps easier and just as impactful, write a series of short posts that focus on a single aspect of the organization’s mission and work. You know there’s a lot to say — start saying it in small, interesting bites to draw people in.
And, of course, as Jack McDougle, President and CEO at the Greater Washington Board of Trade, recommends, “Always link to us when you post something that aligns with our focus.”
#3 Add the Organization to Your LinkedIn Profile
If you believe in a cause enough to join its board, you should make it part of your LinkedIn profile. This step is a win-win action:
- You give the organization credibility with your connections because you affiliate yourself with it.
- Your online presence is richer because people see that you’re committed to something more than work and personal profit. Jacquelyn Clemmons, Founder and CEO of Okionu Birth Foundation, says it well, “Having the courage to speak up about things that matter to you makes you more human. When you are vulnerable, people are drawn to you and support you.”
Adding an organization is easy. From your profile, click Add Profile Section, then from the drop-down menu Additional, choose Add Organizations and follow the prompts.
#4 Invite Your Network to Their Events
Use LinkedIn to create excitement and increase attendance at your organization’s events by inviting your connections to them. You can share the invitation posted by the organization (see #1) or create original posts about the event (See #2).
If you usually stay business-focused on LinkedIn and this feels a little “out there,” consider thinking of this as organization business. Develop a plan for what and when you will post about an event. For example:
- Announcement of the event and why it matters
- Invitation for new people to attend
- Photo of preparation for the event
- Last-minute invitation
- Photos from the event
- Report after the event and benefits from it
And for maximum impact, work with your organization and other board members to create a strategic plan for every event.
#5 Encourage Your Network to Donate
As you know, money matters just as much in the nonprofit world as it does in the rest of business. And while it’s easy to give your time and money to a cause you believe in, it can be awkward to ask others to do the same.
Your activity on LinkedIn (and most social media) can pave the way for that interaction — and even make the ask for you. As you regularly share online about your organization, people will come to know its significance and impact. Don’t shy away from posting about financial needs and where the money is put to work (and the results of it). This transparency builds credibility and interest.
As is appropriate, offer others the opportunity to invest in the important work of your organization. You can link directly to online donations or more information. When you post, make it clear what people will find when they click on the link — it will put them at ease and increase engagement. And be sure that the organization is prepared to follow up well (and track where clicks/giving originate).
Spend Your Social Capital to Support Your Organization
The dramatic changes in work and culture over the past few years have impacted the nonprofit world, too. People are more than ready to support and join the work, but they also need — maybe even demand — transparency, authenticity, and community with the organization.
And that really means knowing the people in those organizations, especially the leaders — like board members. There is an expectation that board members will speak up about the cause, showing that they are in alignment and that they really care.
You truly can make a difference as you support and amplify the mission and message of your organization online. Use these five steps to grow the reach of your organization, make introductions, and connect them to new resources.
Lastly, if you want to be on a board, an excellent first step is to look for organizations doing things you’re passionate about and in alignment with, and then engage with them regularly on LinkedIn. Like and comment on their posts. They will notice you, and it’s a very positive way to get their attention and warm them up.
If you or your nonprofit haven’t yet put LinkedIn to work for the cause, we can help. Check out our many free resources on the ProResource website or reach out for a quick chat.
Judy Schramm is the CEO of ProResource, a social media agency that builds a strong personal brand online for CEOs, raising their visibility so more people understand them and appreciate the value they have created. With a powerful personal brand, the CEOs receive more opportunities, accomplish professional goals with less effort, and have a greater impact on the world. Clients include hundreds of executives at Fortune 500 companies as well as funded startups and more established businesses. Schramm’s network includes more than 26,000 followers on LinkedIn and 4500 on Twitter. She has been named a Top 10 LinkedIn Marketing Superstar; she blogs, speaks often at industry events, and has written several books and many articles.