When you hear the phrase “social network,” your first thought might be seeing another “Which character in Game of Thrones are you?” personality test that another friend has shared on Facebook. Add the work “professional” in front of “social network” and it might change your perspective completely.
Facebook and Twitter have their uses for nonprofits and so does LinkedIn, but in a much different way. LinkedIn provides more concise information — without all the personal stuff. People are likely to post their business and school information on LinkedIn — things that are helpful to research and fundraising folks making it a better option for prospect research.
During a session at Fundraising Day New York at the Marriott Marquis in Midtown Manhattan this morning, development prospect research analyst Qaya Thompson shared how LinkedIn is used at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Joining Thompson on the panel were Sally Boucher, CFRE, director of research at WealthEngine and Jeremy Woolf, director of marketing at CCS.
Yale-New Haven Hospital uses LinkedIn for research, to verify name, school information, employment/title and interests. Although LinkedIn users often provide a lot of information, Thompson said it’s important to always cross-reference what’s listed with at least two other sources. Sometimes things are out of date and people are not completely honest.
LinkedIn has more than 100 million U.S. members, 300 million in all, and they tend to skew older, have higher incomes and are better educated than other social networks. The average LinkedIn user is 44.2 years old and 79 percent are 39 or older. They have twice the purchasing power of the average U.S. consumer, with an average household income of $83,000, far more than Facebook ($25,000) and Twitter ($52,000). Almost half of LinkedIn users have incomes of more than $100,000.
The free version of LinkedIn allows you to view in depth profiles, identify board members and search based on nonprofit interests. LinkedIn Premium, which has a monthly fee, helps with running more advanced searches that include groups, years of experience, seniority level, and company size, among other variables.
Woolf offered three “best practices” for nonprofits before they leap onto LinkedIn:
- Right-size your expectations
- Have a plan to use the information
- Have a place to import data – like company name, title, URL and industry – to in your CRM or DMA
When it comes to connecting, he suggested asking connections for an off-line introduction. As part of the follow-up from a meeting, personalize a request to connect via LinkedIn and ask connection if they would serve as a connector to their network.
Panelists offered a number of tips to consider when exploring LinkedIn for fundraising and prospect research:
- Know your privacy settings;
- Use LinkedIn as a first resource for verifying employment, title or company;
- Use LinkedIn as a resource for finding or verifying professional and school connections;
- Use LinkedIn for finding “nice to know” information for profiles and conversation starters;
- Use LinkedIn for donor insights, and
Follow accepted ethical guidelines.