A nonprofit without a LinkedIn strategy is a lot like a ship without a sail. Even if the organization knows where it wants to go, without quality resources it will have a hard time getting there. Any charity without a presence on LinkedIn should make it a goal to establish a profile on the professional networking site in 2015.

Third Sector New England reported that with over 120 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform. Over 200 countries and territories are represented. This is an incredibly vast resource of knowledge and opportunity that nonprofits must tap into.

Specialized networking for nonprofits

In fact, LinkedIn recognized the power their site offered to charities and developed a resource center designed entirely for the nonprofit sector. The site helps organizations create pages devoted to their mission. This space provides them a place to post status updates, volunteer and donation opportunities, and resources for other organizations. Currently, over 100,000 charitable institutions are present on LinkedIn’s nonprofit platform.

LinkedIn, much like Facebook and Twitter, is an excellent site for re-posting and promoting others’ causes and events. LinkedIn provides a substantial professional setting for this type of social sharing. Whether it’s donors, volunteers, or staff, those connected to a nonprofit through LinkedIn can share the charity’s information with their own connections, broadening the scope of visibility exponentially.

Plus, nonprofits can use LinkedIn much in the same way that any other industry does: recruitment. It’s a great tool for researching potential board members, volunteers, or staff members based on common interests, skills, and connections. As the site is meant for users to promote their experience and expertise, it’s much easier for charities to verify employment history and reliability for candidates present on LinkedIn.

Staff policies

If and when a company page asks staff members to connect with it on LinkedIn, make sure all employees understand the basic expectations of online profile conduct. LinkedIn is not Facebook or Twitter in this regard; it’s a much more corporate site whose users are more interested in statistics on nonprofit fundraising efforts and less in goofy YouTube videos. Linking company pages to employee profiles is a great way to have an impact on larger audiences, as long as all parties understand guidelines.

Become a thought leader

While LinkedIn certainly provides an online tool for creating connections, it also allows users the chance to establish themselves as thought leaders in their areas of expertise. To do this, users must first keep their audience in mind. Identify the skills the user excels at and several keywords that would most appeal to contacts looking for a nonprofit industry expert. Ideally, this list would be boiled down to five or so unique terms or phrases the user could then repeat throughout his or her profile. Nonprofit Technology Network advised embracing honesty during this process. Find out what constituents really value and which skills are most honed before posting.

Also, do not be afraid of writing professional blog posts or articles on LinkedIn geared toward the nonprofit sector. These are incredibly helpful resources for an online, LinkedIn presence that will drive traffic to both the user and their organization.

Nonprofit Tech for Good also noted that LinkedIn recommendations are a great way to connect with potential donors or volunteers. Endorsements on this social networking site carry significant weight; they are essentially an extension of the user’s own values and talent. Make sure any recommendation is truly earned. Advocating for another professional should be motivated by honest admiration and respect, not simply as a reciprocal or nice move.