Best practices for connecting with prospects.
Explore these tips and tactics for establishing a meaningful connection with prospective donors.
Before reaching out:
• Make sure your own LinkedIn profile is complete, up to date, and conveys credibility before reaching out to prospects, as they will most likely look at it before deciding to reply.
• Don’t include your asks in your connection requests. Instead, highlight the prospect’s interest in your cause to get their attention. Wait until you’re connected before sending fundraising messages.
• Look at the “Activity” section on your prospect’s LinkedIn profile before sending a message. If it seems like they’ve been silent for a while, they may be taking a break from LinkedIn and miss your message. Check back in a few days.
When reaching out:
• Always address the prospect by name.
• Keep your first message brief. Give a quick overview of your nonprofit, be clear about why you’re reaching out, and avoid bombarding the prospect with huge amounts of information upfront.
• Mention any connection they have to your cause.
• Provide clear next steps (ex: setting up a meeting).
• Review your message before hitting “Send,” especially if you used a template. Check to make sure you didn’t forget any opportunities for personalization. Templates can be very helpful, but if a prospect suspects you used one, your message may come across as less warm and personal.
Warm introductions on LinkedIn.
When you share a mutual connection with a potential donor, you can ask that person to introduce you, helping you get the prospect’s attention and establish credibility and trust.
LinkedIn’s degrees of connection feature helps you instantly understand how you’re connected to a prospect, even if you haven’t personally met or spoken to them. First-degree connections are people you’re already connected with on LinkedIn, while second-degree connections are people with whom you share a mutual connection — creating opportunities for warm introductions.
How to ask for warm introductions on LinkedIn:
Look for the word “2nd” next to a prospect’s name on LinkedIn. This means you have a connection in common with them.
Identify the mutual connection who is likely to be the most influential and/or willing to help (ex: a member of your nonprofit’s board).
Click through to the prospect’s profile. You may see “X mutual connections” beneath their name and location. Clicking this takes you to a list of mutual connections so you can easily see who you both know.
Click the “Message” button next to your chosen connection’s name to message them on LinkedIn and ask if they can make the introduction for you. They can do this by creating a group message and adding both your name and the prospect’s. Consider providing them with a template or talking points to make it easy for them.
Outreach and follow-up templates.
Create templates to streamline your fundraising efforts on LinkedIn. Use the following customizable templates to get started:
Connection request note
Use this template to connect with prospects when you don’t share a mutual connection.
Hi [prospect’s name],
I saw on your profile that you’re passionate about [cause]. I work at [nonprofit’s name], an organization dedicated to [brief description of mission]. I’d love to connect to tell you more.
Warm introduction request
Use this template to request a warm introduction if you share a mutual connection with a prospect.
Hi [connection’s name],
How have you been? [Include a personal note here.]
I’m hoping you can help me with something. [Your nonprofit’s name] is looking to connect with [prospect’s name] about ways they can get involved with our cause. I see that you’re connected with them on LinkedIn.
Would you be willing to introduce me to them? You can do this on LinkedIn by creating a new message, then adding both our names as recipients.
Thank you in advance!
Initial outreach message
Use this template to make your initial request.
Hi [prospect’s name],
I hope you’re well! I’m reaching out because I saw on your LinkedIn profile that [mention their connection to your cause].
I work at [your nonprofit’s name], an organization that [briefly summarize your nonprofit’s mission and impact]. We’re always looking for passionate people to help us make a difference.
Are you available next week for a 20-minute call? I’d love to discuss ways that you can get involved with our nonprofit.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Use this template to follow up with a promising prospect who hasn’t responded after a week or more.
Hi [prospect’s name],
I hope you’re having a great week. I wanted to follow up and see if you have any interest in learning more about [your nonprofit’s name].
Given your interest in [cause], I’d love to set up a quick call to tell you about our work and opportunities to get involved. If now is not a good time, let me know — I’m happy to circle back in a few weeks.
What’s an InMail?
InMails are a type of direct message on LinkedIn. They allow you to reach out to almost anyone, even if you’re not connected. Unlike other LinkedIn messages, you can also add a subject line to InMails to capture your prospect’s attention.
You can receive InMail credits with a LinkedIn Premium subscription or LinkedIn Sales Navigator. If a prospect accepts, declines, or responds to your InMail within 90 days, you’ll get a credit back, so you can reach even more people.