Inner Circle – How to Find Connections of Your Close Contacts

Inner Circle – How to Find Connections of Your Close Contacts

March 21, 2019
Sharanya Venkatesh

Need a warm introduction to a prospective donor? Here’s how to leverage your Inner Circle, your closest contacts, to find out who they can connect you to.

As a nonprofit, you already know the importance of prospect research.  Our Inner Circle solution enables your connections to help you find your next best prospects. Anna Sheehan, Client Engagement Manager at WealthEngine, shares how you can leverage the people in your network to connect with those you want to reach.

What is the Inner Circle Solution?

Inner Circle is a feature within the WealthEngine platform that gives you ways to discover connections or relationships within your existing contacts.

With Inner Circle, you can identify connections who are closest to your organization and then expand out to who they know. Your inner circle could consist of board members, foundation and committee members. These Inner Circle members can help connect you to their colleagues, relatives, others they serve on boards with and acquaintances who might make great prospects.

Anna says, “These vital connections are key because they help you expand your network and grow your book of business.”

How does Inner Circle work?

The functionality is fairly simple. You would upload a list of your Inner Circle members into WealthEngine. The solution then generates a list of their connections. These connections could already be in your donor base.

You now have an effective way to reach out to them. This would be the perfect opportunity to ask your Inner Circle member for an introduction to this prospect.

In fact, your Inner Circle members are a great source for you to find top prospects. They already have a connection to your organization. This also means that they are invested in it. They could be open to helping you make a major gift ask depending on how close they are to the prospect.

Who should you put into Inner Circle?

The best candidates are obviously those who are closely connected to your nonprofit. This could be board members, foundation members, top donors,  development committee members, advancement committee members, etc.

Further, you can think more broadly about your own organization. Who would be able to help you? Who would be willing to introduce you to their connections? It is important to choose Inner Circle members who have the right connections. This means that they have to have connections with influential people who are willing to give.

Board members and former donors are obvious candidates. But, committee members can be appropriate as well. These could be development or advancement committee members.

What data should you enter into Inner Circle?

Data requirements for Inner Circle as similar to doing a wealth screening with WealthEngine. Fields such as first name, last name, street address, city, state and zip code can all be entered. Inner Circle also allows you to enter the name of a business. Anna strongly recommends uploading a company name. This can be useful even it is a past business. It helps to track down valuable connections among current and past colleagues.

Business information is also useful in instances where people have very common names. The more information you provide, the higher the match rate will be. For instance, if you have a John Smith in your database with the top P2G (propensity to give) score of 1, adding company information can help refine your search to the particular John Smith that has a connection to your board member.

Is there a limit on your Inner Circle list size?

There are no specific limits on how many connections you can upload to Inner Circle. However,  Anna recommends you limit your input in order to be more selective.

In other words, it is best to add people who not only have the right connections but are also willing to introduce them to you.

Additionally, when you receive results from Inner Circle, there is a bit of a manual process involved. You will have to look up connections and establish matches. Therefore, it can become tedious if your list has thousands of entries.

How big should a file typically be?

On average, your file should be about 5% of the size of your screening file. For instance, if you typically screen 10,000 records your Inner Circle list should consist of about 500 people.

How does Inner Circle make matches?

Inner Circle makes matches in one of three ways:

  1. Business Contacts: current or past coworkers
  2. Board Affiliations: foundations, nonprofit and corporate boards
  3. Familial Connections: anyone that your Inner Circle member has shared a household with (in the present and in the past).

This proves to be an effective method to find close connections who could share the Inner Circle member’s affinity for your organization.

We had the case of a nonprofit client at WealthEngine running a capital campaign. The board really got involved and became incentivized to help out. They might have made their own financial contributions, but they wanted to know how else they could help.

This nonprofit then loaded these board members into Inner Circle. They also did a screening of their donors, some non-donors, and other constituents. They were able to find multiple connections. These connections were all highly rated prospects who had been previously overlooked. They all had high P2G scores and high gift-capacities. As a result, the organization was able to provide a list of 5 highly targeted prospects to each board member.

The nonprofit was able to benefit by finding high-quality prospects, especially ones they had overlooked. Connecting to them through a board member who they have a relationship with makes the touch that much more personal as well.

What potential issues should you look out for?

Using Inner Circle is fairly straightforward, especially if you have screened with WealthEngine before. However, there have been a few instances where the solution has found matches who are too close to the Inner Circle member. For instance, it could suggest a spouse or parent.

It is also important to load as much information as possible into Inner Circle as it can match with great precision. This is especially true for people with names that are common.

Best Practice Recommendations

  • Use Inner Circle for many types of campaigns- capital campaigns, annual funds, major gifts, etc.
  • Be selective with who you include in your Inner Circle list. It is definitely about quality over quantity of connections.
  • Try to upload as much information as possible in order to increase match precision.

Find new donors

Set up your Inner Circle today to find high-quality prospects whom you may have overlooked. Take a minute to fill the form on the right and a WealthEngine rep will contact you very soon.

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