Nonprofit Networks | A Fundraiser’s Handbook for Successful Networking

You’ve heard this before: Teamwork makes the dream work. It takes a village. We know how important networking is in general, but do you know how important it is as a nonprofit professional? And do you know how to build that vital network? In this guide, we’ll look at how you can seek out, build,…

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Nonprofit Networks | A Fundraiser’s Handbook for Successful Networking

nonprofit networks

You’ve heard this before: Teamwork makes the dream work. It takes a village. We know how important networking is in general, but do you know how important it is as a nonprofit professional? And do you know how to build that vital network?

In this guide, we’ll look at how you can seek out, build, and maintain a strong nonprofit network and community. We’ll cover the following topics:

  1. Why is Nonprofit Networking so Important?
  2. How to be a Good Member of the Nonprofit Community?
  3. 4 Tools to Grow Your Nonprofit Network Fast

Without further ado, let’s look at some ways you can harness the power of a strong nonprofit network.

Why is Nonprofit Networking so Important?

You know the importance of community partnerships for your nonprofit, but you might not know the importance of networking for nonprofits and nonprofit professionals. Here’s the scoop.

1. For nonprofits

Nonprofits benefit from networking in the following ways:

  1. Partnerships. When you have strong relationships with other nonprofit organizations, you always have the chance to partner with them on special initiatives and projects that can help double your audience.
  2. Finding grants. Let’s say a member of your nonprofit network stumbles upon a great grant that their organization isn’t eligible for, but they think it sounds perfect for you and your nonprofit’s important mission. They might inform you about the grant or even help you connect with the grantmaker.
  3. Learning about trends. Be it fundraising, donor management, marketing, or something else, your nonprofit must always stay up to date. And there can not be anything more effective than networking.
  4. Board development. It is often a challenge for nonprofits to find board members who share an affinity for the nonprofit’s mission. Nonprofit networks can help build board member pipelines before you actually need them.
  5. Event ideas. Networking with a community of similar people will help you discover new fundraising event ideas to attract more donors and raise more funds for your nonprofit.
  6. Finding external help. There are times when you’ll need external assistance such as consulting services. A good network will help you find the best talent or agency for your nonprofit.
  7. Staff development. You’ll often run into people who can enhance your organizational culture and operations with their experience and skills.
  8. Support and inspiration. In times of crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to have a network of mutual support to keep nonprofits going. You can often hear fellow nonprofits’ stories and draw inspiration to scale your efforts.
  9. More good in your community. When nonprofits support each other, the result is more powerful good being done in the world.

2. For nonprofit professionals and consultants

On a personal level, creating solid, lasting, and mutually beneficial relationships with other nonprofit workers benefits you in the following ways:

  1. Staying up-to-date. If someone who works at another nonprofit is trying something new that looks exciting or helpful, you’ll be one of the first to know as part of their network.
  2. Finding new opportunities. When it’s time for you to move to a new position in the nonprofit sector, your network is a great resource to learn about new jobs.
  3. Training and growth. Having a strong network can lead you to opportunities for growth and training, which can help both your professional development and your nonprofit.
  4. Getting inspiration and ideas. Working in the nonprofit sector can often turn out to be stressful and you may run out of ideas and strategies. But when you have a community of like-minded people, you can easily find the inspiration to keep up the good work.

To create these strong relationships, though, you have to be a good member of the community that you can be. Here’s how.

How to be a Good Member of the Nonprofit Community?

nonprofit professionals

Like all good relationships, maintaining your nonprofit network takes work! Think about what makes your longest friendships successful: time, kindness, mutual respect, support, and often interests in common.

To be a good member of the nonprofit network, remember to:

  1. Attend events regularly. It’s not fair to expect your network to just show up for your events! Be there for them too.
  2. Share your successes and failures as a nonprofit. When you’re open and honest, more people would like to connect with you. Share your experiences with them and also, learn from theirs.
  3. Have an open mind. Don’t try to connect with just the people you think can do something for you. Having a diverse, wide-ranging network will serve you better in the long run.
  4. Be friendly. Avoid bad practices, gossip, and ill-will. Remember, stewarding a sense of community means making all feel welcome.
  5. Stay consistent. Relationships require upkeep. Be there when your fellow members need help. Try not to go missing in action for long periods of time.
  6. Share opportunities, resources, and news. Being a strong member of a nonprofit network means being helpful. You’ll find that people are grateful for your kindness, and will reward you in return.

Now let’s look at some tools you can use to grow your network and turn it into a strong community that you want to be a part of.

4 Tools to Grow Your Nonprofit Network Fast

1. Donorbox Knowledge Community

The Donorbox Knowledge Community is a community-oriented space dedicated to nonprofit professionals where you can post questions, find resources, meet fellow professionals, and learn about trends in the nonprofit sector.

nonprofit networks

In the Donorbox Knowledge Community, you’ll find forums for the following:

  • Helpful webinars
  • Important announcements
  • Starting new nonprofit orgs
  • Resources like statistics and guides
  • Asking questions,

…and more!

There’s also a Member’s Lounge where you can introduce yourself and get to know all other nonprofit members, share any challenges you’ve faced, your experiences, any fun fact, and more.

This is an excellent way to meet and connect with nonprofit professionals from all around the world, meaning you’re building a truly global network.

Join Donorbox Knowledge Community today!

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an excellent platform for growing your network , and finding or building a network or community. That’s what it’s made for, after all!

You can utilize LinkedIn to find professionals in similar positions as you in other nonprofits to see how your experience measures up.

There’s a growing network of nonprofits on LinkedIn who love to share insight and resources about the current fundraising landscape, meaning you can learn through discussions and content ways to improve your fundraising numbers, among other important parts of building your nonprofit.

Here are some nonprofit networking groups to consider joining on LinkedIn:

Looking for more groups to get started? Check out these 14 LinkedIn Groups for Nonprofit Professionals. There are tons of region- and even city-specific groups, so use LinkedIn’s search function to find a group near you.

If there isn’t one, start one! You’ll be building a solid network in no time.

3. Nonprofit podcasts

According to Convince and Convert, 41% of Americans listen to podcasts. That means that you likely listen to podcasts, too! You can use your time spent listening to podcasts as a strong tool to build your nonprofit network by choosing to listen to podcasts in the nonprofit podcast network.

Finding the right nonprofit podcast for you might take some time. Luckily, we have a list of 11 Nonprofit Podcasts to get you started, including our very own podcast, The Nonprofit Podcast, which you can listen to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Buzzsprout, and Google Podcasts.

The Nonprofit Podcast (by Donorbox)

nonprofit podcast network

The Nonprofit Podcast shares inspiring stories of nonprofits who are changing the world and serving others. Hosted by Jared Polivka, Jena Lynch, Cara Augspurger, and Heidi Bianco, this podcast channel include noted thought-leaders, founders, and directors from impactful nonprofits such as For The Love of Alex, Nova Ukraine, Upward Scholars, Movember, Barn Sanctuary, and more.

Their stories will not only inspire you and help you gain from their experience but you’ll also discover new organizations to network with.

How can nonprofit podcasts enrich your network?

  1. Stay on top of the conversation. When you listen to nonprofit podcasts, you know what the nonprofit world is talking about. This helps you stay relevant and connected to a community that is diverse and constantly changing.
  2. “Meet” inspiring, effective nonprofit professionals. Sure, you don’t meet anyone when you listen to podcasts, but you learn about them and that helps you make a connection. For example, in episode 12 of The Nonprofit Podcast, our host Cara Augspurger chats with Josiah Haken, CEO of City Relief. Once you hear Josiah’s inspiring story, you’ll feel connected with him – and could even make the connection real by finding him on LinkedIn!

Additionally, podcasts can also help you rethink your fundraising and outreach strategies. As you listen to how other nonprofits are growing and making a difference in the world, you will come across ideas and strategies that will help you in the long run.

4. Local events

Attending local events is an excellent way to meet nonprofit professionals in your area. These can range from specific mixers for nonprofit professionals to more general business networking luncheons to community or church events and even volunteering opportunities.

A good way to learn about these events is to join membership groups and other kinds of professional groups in your area. If you’re new to your area, try asking your coworkers for some suggestions for where to start.

If you live somewhere that doesn’t have a large nonprofit community, don’t fret! In our increasingly virtual world, in-person events aren’t the only way to connect with nonprofit professionals.

Keep an eye out for virtual gatherings, such as:

  • Webinars. They are a great way to connect with groups of nonprofit professionals.
  • Meet and greets. Attend these virtual gatherings for new companies or organizations.
  • Q & A sessions. Renowned nonprofit professionals can help you learn more about your profession and connect with like-minded folks.

This tool requires a willingness to put yourself out there in order to get the most out of building your network this way. Be confident and, most importantly, be yourself! You’ll find a group of nonprofit professionals who reflect your values and interests in no time.

Over to You

Having a strong network to turn to is important at any stage in a nonprofit professional’s career. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re established, building a community to turn to in times of trouble and success can only make you a better professional–and provide great benefits for your nonprofit, too.

At Donorbox, we understand that community is key to helping nonprofits do more good. That’s why we’ve built powerful tools like the Donorbox Knowledge Community and The Nonprofit Podcast to make connecting, growing, and fundraising easy and more effective for you.

Our aim is to make the network of nonprofit professionals and consultants even stronger. When we all put in the work, amazing things can happen.

Donorbox wants to help you in several ways. Therefore, we’ve come up with Donorbox Premium where you get expert help such as fundraising coaching and a dedicated account manager as well as tech support, and much more! Explore the success package and get in touch with us to go premium!

Learn about the Donorbox online fundraising features such as Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer fundraising, Text-to-Give, Events, Memberships, Recurring Donations, and more. They are easy to set up and simple to use. 50,000+ nonprofits are using us already. Sign up for free now!

Check out our Nonprofit Blog for more tips on nonprofit management, professional development, fundraising, and more!

Lindsey Baker

Lindsey Baker Bower is a writer, educator, and nonprofit professional. She has years of experience helping arts nonprofits with their fundraising messaging and strategy. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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