open post

Since the fall of 2012, I have been focussing exclusively on our agriculture social enterprise, Hiinga.  I have always desired to blog about that adventure from a personal point of view but didn’t know exactly where to blog it- certainly not on the Hiinga website as the blog is reserved entirely for Hiinga related progress. I started tumbler blogs, bought new domains, did this and that but it didn’t feel right. While Sonya, my wife will continue to do photography and serve her clients, I am going to use the spare space to write about my journey.

Starting a social enterprise or nonprofit has been the hardest thing I have ever done but it has also been the most rewarding. The pay off is the lives that we have been able to change by both our sweat and theirs. Let no one deceive you, money is the number one need for a nonprofit. Without it, you can’t do programs, hire smart people, or scale your operations. But in the ever decreasing source of funding, how can a start-up nonprofit creatively expand its tentacles?

Beginning this week, I will be trying to take advantage of LinkedIn and its vast database of individuals to get new connections and meetings. For some of you, you may have done this already, but for others, this could be your “aha moment – why did I never think of that?” Most of us use LinkedIn to connect with potential employers or to scout for talent. A nonprofit can use LinkedIn to connect with potential donors. One of my board members asked me to go through his connections, make notes on whom I wanted to connect with, and then he would make the introduction. Surely, why had I never thought of that?

You do not want to go on LinkedIn and start sending unsolicited emails to strangers. What you need to do, find someone that has credibility and is involved in your mission, and then ask them to introduce you to their network on LinkedIn. When they introduce you, they have bought you instant credibility. Take advantage of that and begin building relationships with your new introductions. Before you know it (usually takes time), they will either support your cause (if your mission aligns with them or if you find a way to align your mission with their interests) and they will introduce you to other people. I am telling you this as much as I am telling myself – because, I am starting on this now!