Donor Prospects Update Their LinkedIn, Not Charities

LinkedIn was relatively new when Sree Sreenivasan last presented at Fundraising Day in New York (FRDNY) a decade ago. If you joined LinkedIn 10 years ago your boss might be worried that you’re looking for a job. “Today, your boss might be on LinkedIn and also don’t know what they’re doing,” he quipped.

Sreenivasan, a social and digital media consultant, presented a session titled “Fact-Finding in the Era of Social Media and Fake News” during 2019 iteration of FRDNY last week at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) New York City Chapter.

“I don’t think I need this, I don’t need a job,” most fundraisers would argue but a lot of development officers are not using and optimizing LinkedIn, Sreenivasan argued. Much of it applies to job hunting but it’s also related to what development officers do: prospect research.

Universities have developed their own alumni databases but LinkedIn is even more accurate because people typically update LinkedIn before they alert their alma mater, said Sreenivasan, a former chief digital officer for the City of New York, Columbia University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

LinkedIn allows you to search not just by name but also by company and title. You could find people who are no longer at a company or you may know them in their new life and perhaps they might have “looser lips,” or could provide insights into a former boss or employee, Sreenivasan said. “Play to the LinkedIn algorithms and find some fun things that may spark a conversation in an interview,” he said.

Nonprofits can’t just keep talking about themselves or people tune you out, Sreenivasan said, encouraging charities to be creative in their LinkedIn activity, beyond just boasting about the organization. Another way for you to be in the conversation is sharing articles on LinkedIn. Being a great pointer to topics is very helpful, he said.