LinkedIn has added a "Volunteer & Causes" field to profiles, allowing members to show off what causes they have volunteered for, presenting networking opportunities in the non-profit realm, similar to the the opportunities LinkedIn already presents in the professional realm.
There are added benefits to the professional side of things as well, however. LinkedIn Senior Manger of Corporate Communications Krista Canfield tells WebProNews, "By enabling professionals to list their volunteer experiences on their LinkedIn Profile employers, business partners and co-workers are able to see another dimension of your professional identity."
"It shows that you're a passionate professional who's adept at multitasking," she adds. "An analogy would be a college student who's pursuing a degree while also working part-time. If you're comparing that college student side-by-side to another college student who's just going to school, then you might consider the college student who's also working part-time to be more driven and harder working."
"It's also worth noting that you can develop new skills during your volunteer work which will help you become a multifaceted professional," Canfield tells us. "You may be a sales person by trade, but perhaps you helped organize your non-profit's most recent fundraising event. Noting that experience, and the skills that you learned during that experience ('event planning,' 'event marketing,' etc.) can make you a more attractive employee and business partner."
Canfield says she'd advise professionals to not only add their volunteer work, but to also add LinkedIn Skills to their profile if they've truly mastered new ones as a result of those experience. LinkedIn Skills can be searched here.
"Adding LinkedIn Skills will help you come up in relevant searches when business partners, clients or hiring managers are doing a search for people like you," she notes. Certainly a good thing to keep in mind.
"I'd also add that viewing a member's volunteer experiences on their LinkedIn Profile is another way to find other professionals that have similar passions or interests to your own," she says. "If before a business meeting you check another member's LinkedIn Profile and see that he or she helped build a house during a Habitat for Humanity project (just like you did a few years ago), that can be a great conversation starter and a nice way to find common ground with that other professional."
There are other ways to utilize LinkedIn in the nonprofit realm. Nonprofits can set up company pages, for example. "To date there are more than two million LinkedIn Company Pages," says Canfield. Listed nonprofits include the American Red Cross, DonorsChoose.org, The Humane Society of the United States and many others.
"You can click the 'follow' button on a company page if you want to get updates when someone leaves or joins that company and to get updates when that company has posted a job opening on LinkedIn," says Canfield.
"Nonprofits are encouraged to set up LinkedIn Groups," she adds. "I just did a search and there are currently over 83,000 nonprofit groups on Linkedin."
There are tips on nonprofit use of LinkedIn in the company's learning center.