Oct 12, 2021

So, what’s the deal with relationship mapping?

Relationship Map

It might come as a surprise that the donor retention rate is about 43 percent. It takes a lot of groundwork to keep replacing those losses.  

What if you could do something to build stronger relationships from the onset? Enter relationship mapping. 

What is it? 

In fundraising, relationship mapping is using a visual diagram of circles and lines to get a better view of your supporters and their connections. Before you start a relationship map you have to define your goal, sample, and parameters of the exercise.  

Is your goal to get more auction items, table captains, or corporate teams? Are you going to do a relationship mapping exercise with your board, committee, or both? Are you hoping to focus on your sample’s professional or personal relationships? Are you looking for contacts at a specific company? Are you interested in going one step further and looking through connections’ connections? 

Here’s a tip: if you are focusing on your samples’ professional network – do some mining on their LinkedIn. With or without additional tools, you can search through connections and make a list of ones you want to ask specifically about.  

Once you frame your plan and make those decisions on the who, what, and how – you then have to print (yes, print) a relationship map for every stakeholder and get to work.  

Here’s a tip: Make it clear that anyone they write down is someone they are actually willing to reach out to to get involved with your nonprofit.  

How can it better my fundraising strategy? 

You might be surprised at who people bring up, who they otherwise would not have reached out to. People like old college friends, siblings of past work relationships, and more may very well be the key to long-term fundraising stability.  

Most major nonprofit/corporate partnerships or big-ticket items are the results of building the right relationships. Relationship mapping can help you understand what those are.  

Building relationships from the ground up will benefit you and your mission long-term.  


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