The Power of Data in Finding and Building Relationships
You hear it time and time again at conferences, in articles and books, during webinars, and in trainings — fundraising is all about relationships. And in this era of big data, there are few things more valuable for fundraisers than unearthing actionable data points that can help build stronger relationships with prospects and donors.
Luckily for fundraisers, there are myriad data tools out there to help with just that. One of them is Relationship Science (RelSci), a data relationship company that works with about 200 nonprofits currently. With tools like RelSci, fundraisers can get a better handle on and better organize their data — and find ways to expand their reach.
"[Nonprofits] have always had a lot of data that may have lived in an Excel sheet or even a Rolodex, but they have not really revealed good, actionable insights to deepen donor relationships or expand donor relationships," says Josh Mait, chief marketing officer of RelSci. "… What's exciting about big data is the ability to distill that data down and reveal new stuff about connectivity with people."
For instance, Mait points out that it is difficult to understand the full reach of board members, which makes it harder to get board members to make asks or introductions to the development department. But with wealth overlay and relationship data tools, fundraisers themselves have the ability to find people board members may know or have some connection to.
"The ability to have a defined, well-informed ask for an introduction from your board member can make a huge difference," Mait says. "You can say, 'Here's five people we think you know. Can you help us engage them?' There's a big difference between that and just asking if a board member has anyone to connect with."
"If you just capture data for data's sake, you get a boatload of data, which can lead to paralysis by analysis. If you can clean that up and give yourself a road map of five different people we need to go see because of some type of relationship, it gives you that low-hanging fruit," agrees Brian Crimmins, CEO of Changing Our World, which utilizes RelSci and big data to help the nonprofits and businesses it helps connect.