When it comes to targeting donors, it’s tempting to lock on to the deepest pockets. But a well-connected donor is just as valuable as a wealthy one, perhaps even more so. Donors rich in relationship capital can provide warm introductions to prospects, help recruit board members and spread your mission's message farther.
By using data science to target donors who have powerful networking potential, nonprofits can garner huge returns on their outreach. Such data can be analyzed to reveal variables that are tied to high relationship capital. For example, a recent collaboration by Crain's New York Business and Relationship Science focused on five areas of connectivity that identify the most-connected individuals within a given dataset, in this case, New York City’s business leaders. Consider using these five relationship assets as a guide to help you begin to mine your data for well-connected donors.
In short, reliability is the strength or quality of your donor's relationships with others. Is she active on the boards she sits on? Does she maintain a small but close circle of contacts? Is there a high likelihood this person could actually rely on the people she seems to know?
Reliability measures quality, but reach measures quantity. Reach, the simplest measure of someone’s connectedness, represents the overall size of his or her network in first- and second-degree connections.
One of the more complicated traits we examine is centrality, or a person’s potential to be a super-connector. People with high centrality are able to connect people who don’t themselves share any common contacts. These super-connectors are hubs that can introduce you to completely new groups of people.
Influence answers, “Who does this person know?” If you’re looking to increase your organization’s prestige, target highly influential people—those with connections to other well-connected individuals. Influencers, whether or not they have much individual power, have the ability to deliver high-quality introductions (think new board members, wealthy prospects, etc.).
Influence and access often go hand-in-hand. Access refers to an individual's connections to influential organizations and the top brass at those organizations. High-access donors can be especially helpful in brokering cross-sector partnerships. Influential, well-connected donors can be a boon when it comes to fundraising, recruiting board members and boosting the profile of an organization.
By looking beyond the financial metrics in your donor data and assessing these five relationship capital variables, your organization can achieve networking success—and the far-ranging benefits that come with it.
The preceding is a guest post by Josh Mait, Chief Marketing Officer at Relationship Science LLC (RelSci). He is responsible for guiding the overall marketing strategy and its application across all communication channels for the relationship capital company. Sign up for their weekly nonprofit newsletter, the RelSci 5.