Why Advancement Professionals should Map Relationships

Successful fundraising means forming relationships – especially when prospecting for major gifts. Cultivation is just part of the process and it generally takes quite a lot of time and resources. So, why not use the relationships of your constituents to leverage new donors? Aka – relationship mapping.

When taking the first steps towards developing a relationship mapping strategy, we recommend looking at the family and friends of engaged alumni, major donors, and especially your board members. Here’s some helpful information to keep in mind:

Your Board is your Social Capital

Board members are often affluent individuals who already understand the importance of giving. Your existing board is a social capital that is definitely worth exploring. A study done by Nonprofit Research Collaborative shows that organizations leveraging the relationships of their board members to find donations met their goals more frequently.

Don’t forget to include past board members and trustees in your relationship mapping as well. Even if they don’t currently sit on your board they will likely still have affinity for your institution and will continue to be your advocates.

Be the Catalyst for High-Net-Worth Donors

Apart from board members, you should start to map out relationships with your current major or annual gift donors.  Ask these individuals to reach out to their friends for donations on your behalf. According to a study done by The Philanthropic Workshop, it turns out that a majority of high-net-worth donors look to their social circle to find philanthropic opportunities anyways. Why not be the catalyst?

Map your Connections to Corporate Donors

Corporate donors are another big source of potential donations and relationship mapping can show you which corporations are ripe for solicitation.

GM made a donation to The University of Central Missouri’s Automotive Training program, and after mapping out the relationships, it’s easy to see why. Many of the GM’s senior executives had connections to high-ranking individuals at the University. 

Imagine what corporate connections relationship mapping could reveal for your institution.

Relationship mapping is a lead generation tool that advancement professionals should be utilizing. It can help you find a new pool of major donors so you can meet or even surpass your fundraising goals with ease.

LiveAlumni customers – get ready – because your team will now be able to view connections between your constituents within our platform. Stay tuned for more details.


Sources & Additional Reading

[1] Fundraising Fundamentals, Section 7.1, Case.org

[2] SELECTED NRC Findings – Board Giving and Engagement, Npresearch.org

[3] Why Nonprofits Should Require Board Members to Donate and Fundraise, Thebalance.com

[4] “Going Beyond Giving”, TPW Study 11.7.2017

[5] GM donates car to UCM Automotive Technology program, Dailystarjournal.com

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