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The Power of Visualization

by Gerry

During grade school, we all learned some form of math. We learned about algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and other topics that we were told would be useful later in life. Later is now. Let’s look at the world of data visualization.

Remember when you first started plotting points on a graph from a table? That was the first time you visualized data from a database to help you understand the meaning and trend of the information. The plotting of points would determine whether or not your line was straight (linear) or curved (non-linear). It was and still is much easier to see that the graph below is a standard parabola. See image here.

If we were given the same points in raw data, would we be able to see the trend as easily?

0.000173

2.99E-08

0.01

0.0001

0.011

0.000121

0.012

0.000144

0.013

0.000169

0.014

0.000196

0.017

0.000289

0.8

0.64

Some of you might recognize that the table’s first column is exactly the square root of the second column or that the second column is exactly the square of the first column.

But wait, how does this relate to fundraising?

Relationship mapping has become a new force on the fundraising scene with many organizations using it to find new prospects and increase donations from existing donors.

For example, let’s say that Bob Bobberson knows Phil Phillerton. Sally Sallerstrong knows Bob Bobberson, but doesn’t know Phil Phillerton or George Georgersmith. George Georgersmith knows Sally Sallerstrong and Bob Bobberson, but doesn’t know Phil Phillerton. (I’ll admit, the names make it slightly more difficult to track relationships). Visually, this is what it looks like (I apologize for the 5 minute MS Paint masterpiece as I am a mathematics major and have no experience in graphic design). See image here.

I don’t even want to read my own example, and that’s an example with 4 contacts (imagine the text for 500 people). However, the graphic clearly shows that the only way Sally Sallerstrong and George Georgersmith can reach Phil Phillerton is through Bob Bobberson.

Data visualization can be one of the most important tools in actionable relationships for this very reason. Second-degree relationships and third-degree relationships can all be viewed almost instantaneously via visualization.

Whether or not you’ve started using relationship mapping, it turns out that data visualization in your math homework in fifth grade had some practical application after all.

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