Beyond Wealth: 5 ways to leverage data to find your most valuable donors

By Josh Mait
The Brief
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.

1. Reliability

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?

2. Reach

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.

“Look beyond the financial metrics in your donor data.”

3. Centrality

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.

4. Influence

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.).

5. Access

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.

This article originally appeared on the GuideStar Blog and has been republished with permission.

Josh Mait is the Chief Marketing Officer of Relationship Science (RelSci). RelSci helps create competitive advantage for leading non-profit, corporate and financial organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers. 

Want more on building your best board? Get our white paper, “The third variable you must consider when building your board of directors” 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *