LinkedIn for Fundraisers: Your Donors Are Watching

By | October 8, 2013

Linkedin_ChocolatesIf you’re a fundraiser with a LinkedIn profile, it’s important to assume that a donor might look at your profile before they accept a meeting.

It’s happened to me, and it didn’t turn out well. I was in the process of trying to book a discovery call (remember, it can take up to seven attempts to get this type of meeting) when I noticed that the donor I was pursuing had visited my LinkedIn profile. This donor didn’t return my calls, and didn’t respond to an email.

So ever since, I’ve wondered:

  • What was the donor hoping to find when they checked  my profile?
  • Was there something about my profile that discouraged them from returning my calls?
  • What could I add to my profile to make it more donor-friendly?
  • Was my profile not the problem at all, rather it was some other factor?

I’ve put a lot of effort into my professional LinkedIn profile over the years, and it’s proven to be a very valuable tool for my career. I have recommendations from fundraisers that I respect and admire, and my peers have been far more generous with endorsements than I could ever ask for.

But does that mean anything to a donor?

Anyone that has been a fundraiser for a while knows that it’s a career choice that is met with skepticism by many, and the skeptics don’t often hold back in explaining their position. I’ve been told by immediate and extended family that they believe my job shouldn’t exist! I’m a pro at not letting it get to me, but it creeps back up when I’m pondering questions like this one about my LinkedIn profile.

If a donor has (wrongly) convinced himself or herself that fundraisers are out to “pick their pockets,” and I’m highly endorsed by my fundraising peers, do I come off as the sneakiest of the bunch? I sure hope not, because we all know that that’s not how professional fundraisers work.

Here are a few ideas for making your LinkedIn profile more donor-friendly:

  1. A Recommendation From A Donor
    I don’t have one of these, but if ever it seems appropriate to ask a donor to vouch for my professionalism I’ll do it. Of course, I would run this by senior management first, just in case.
  2. Post Your Volunteer Positions
    Showing that you volunteer with a local shelter, food bank, or daycare can demonstrate that you’ve got interests outside of work and the charity for which you work.
  3. Limit Your Past Positions
    Donors aren’t unlike a potential employer, in that they may be skeptical of someone that has several jobs in a short amount of time. If in doubt, just post your current position along with any volunteer positions you may hold.

If you have any ideas to add, please post them in the comment section below! And of course, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

This post originally appeared on, where the ‘how’ is as important as the ‘how much.’



Brock Warner is a #fundchat Blog Network Partner and writes about fundraising at Hailing from Toronto, Brock works to foster and place value upon the actof philanthropy, no matter the size of gift. As a professional, he values the ‘how’ as much as the ‘how much’ and desire to see the fruits of my labour and energy be a catalyst for positive change. Connect with Brock on Twitter at @BrockWarner.

8 thoughts on “LinkedIn for Fundraisers: Your Donors Are Watching

  1. Anna Samulak

    Food for thought. Thanks for posting this, Brock. I would also add to your list of ideas to re-evaluate the job description you have posted for your current position. Make sure there is no wording in there that someone could misconstrue and take offence to.

  2. Clay Myers-Bowman

    I love the idea of getting a donor to post a recommendation to your LI profile. That’d be pretty simple. I’ve also thought of asking for recommendations for my volunteer and board work to round out my profile.

    1. Brock Warner

      A reco for board service is a great idea! I’ve been serving on a board and have picked up some very valuable skills. However, I do sometimes wonder if people understand how much that entails.

  3. Brendan Kinney

    The topic and discussion here also reminds me that fundraisers should periodically “Google” themselves. While a donor may take a peek at your LinkedIn profile, the more likely scenario is that they will plug your name into a search engine. You should be aware of how you appear in search engine results to ensure that there are no surprises…if there are, you can work to correct them.

  4. Jake Immel

    Thanks, Brock. This is definitely an important thought process to take as a Fundraiser who takes LinkedIn seriously. I really like your personal philosophy too, that you state above.

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