5 Tips for Improving Donor Outreach on LinkedIn
Donor prospecting is often a long game—especially if you’re asking for a major gift. Reaching out to the right people at the right time and with the right message is critical. That means you’ll likely have to spend some time gathering information before making your move, so it’s important to use this time wisely.
With that in mind, here are five pieces of information that it’s worth gathering before doing outreach on LinkedIn—so that when you do send your first message, it will have the maximum impact.
1. Confirm the name they go by
As a Samantha who often goes by Sam, I can tell you firsthand that it always catches me off guard and makes me read a little closer when someone calls me Sam in their first message. I can also tell you that when they call me Sammy—a nickname that only very old friends can get away with—their chances of a response are slim. Looking for cues about a prospect’s preferred name (such as what colleagues call them when commenting on their LinkedIn posts) can make your initial outreach feel warmer and more personal. Be sure to also note any marital status changes that may affect their surname.
2. Look for signs of affinity
If a prospect has an affinity for your overall cause or one of your programs, they’re more likely to make a gift to your organization—and if you can connect the dots in your first message, you can greatly increase your chances of a reply. Review their LinkedIn profile and activity for signs of affinity, such as volunteer experience at similar organizations in their youth, membership to relevant LinkedIn Groups, or comments on thought leadership articles related to your cause. Making a specific reference to something on their profile or content they’ve engaged with provides a perfect icebreaker—setting the stage for a meaningful conversation about your organization and its work.
3. Check their pronouns
While you’ll likely be speaking to prospects in the second person (you/your) in your initial outreach, inadvertently misgendering someone can do real damage to a relationship before it’s even begun. Paying attention to pronouns can help you start the relationship from a place of respect. LinkedIn now enables users to add their correct pronouns to their LinkedIn profile—this will show up beside their name if they’ve filled it out. If they haven’t, check the rest of their profile—people often refer to themselves in the third person.
4. Note their birthday
Knowing a prospect’s date of birth allows you to wish them a happy birthday, which can be a great excuse to follow up if they haven’t responded to your previous message. Even if you’re already in a dialogue with them, it’s a simple way to establish warmth and familiarity. People will often post about their birthday activities and their peers will respond with birthday messages, so keep an eye on their activity throughout the year.
5. Assess how active they are on LinkedIn
LinkedIn’s messaging system is ideal for donor outreach because it allows you to contact any user without needing to know their email address or phone number. It also ensures that your message will be seen on a trusted platform where people expect to receive professional messages. But it’s no secret that some people are more active on LinkedIn than others, which may affect how quickly a prospect responds. Evaluating a person’s activity on the platform can give you a rough sense of how often they’re likely to check their messages, allowing you to build a more informed follow-up strategy. It may also provide insight into the best time to reach out. If they seem to comment on people’s posts every Friday afternoon, for example, sending your initial message on a Friday could allow you to catch them at just the right time.
Make your message stand out
Many high-profile prospects get a lot of messages. By following these quick tips, you can avoid potential pitfalls—and make your first message stand out from the crowd.
To take your fundraising and development efforts on LinkedIn to the next level, consider investing in LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Sales Navigator makes it easy to identify the right audience, get the information you need, and find mutual connections who can provide a warm introduction. Learn more by contacting our team today.