Build the Connections you Need with A Community Power Matrix


One of the keys to non-profit success is a connection to your community – and not your community in the abstract. But specifically, who are the leaders in your community? Who are the people who know everyone? Who’s involved in everything? Who do you need to be talking to in your community in order to increase your membership, your fundraising dollars, and your volunteer base? That’s where knowing how to build a power matrix comes is vital to your success.

Simply put, a Power Matrix is simply a spreadsheet that will tell you who is involved with what in your community – and who is connected to who. It’s easy to create and will help you identify the most influential people in a matter of minutes. One of the things that helped me double the size of my fundraising dinner for the Boy Scouts from an $18,000 event to a nearly $40,000 event was a strong power matrix. Fittingly, I learned how to develop that these through training I got from the BSA. Now, I share the technique with you.

What Types of Organizations Should I Put in My Power Matrix?

The short answer is, “as many as you can.”

The more organizations you have, the more names you’ll get, and the more connections you’ll start to see. You’ll want to start a list of all the big groups in your town. Google is your friend here, especially if you’re new to town. Remember, all of the information you’re going to be using is public record. You’re not spying on anyone, just collecting data that these people and organizations are distributing to the public.

You’ll want to include:

  • Service and Fraternal Organizations (Rotary, Lions, Elks, Moose, Knights of Columbus, etc)
  • Professional Organizations (BNI, Chamber of Commerce, Exchange Clubs, etc)
  • Large Charitable Organizations
  • Churches, Synagogues, Mosques
  • Town Government Boards
  • Corporate Boards of Directors
  • Hospital Boards of Directors
  • Large Employers
Power Matrix

An example of a Power Matrix.

How Do I Build My Power Matrix?

You’re going to start by creating an Excel file (or another spreadsheet program). And you’re going to build something that looks a lot like the one pictured above.

On the top line, you’ve first got the name column, then one for connections, then employer and title. After that, you’ll start putting on the employers you picked in the last section.

Here’s the process of doing so quickly. First, get out your list of all the organizations in your town. Then visit each of their websites in turn. For our purposes here, I’ll use the town of Norwich, Connecticut to start building my list.

Does your town have a sign like this?



I’ll start with the Norwich Rotary Club. Their website is Going to their website, you can see that their board of directors is listed on the left-hand side of the front page. Once you’ve found the names, you can cut and paste them into your tracking sheet. Take out the titles for now. Then mark an X in the column that you’ll have labeled Norwich Rotary next to all the names you’ve copied over.

Then, head to your next organization. For our purposes of building a Norwich matrix, we’ll head over to Backus Hospital. We’ll take a look at their website, Then we’ll head to their “About Us” section, and find the listing of their current Board of Directors. Much like we did for the Norwich Rotary, we’ll copy and paste this listing into our Power Matrix.


Refining Your List

I then repeated the process for the Norwich School Board and the Norwich BNI. This gave me a list of 88 names. You can keep adding as many organizations as you like, and you’ll get more names, and more connections.

From time to time, as your building your list, you’ll want to start on the duplicates. Start by sorting your list by name.

You’ll start seeing names appearing on your list more than once. If you’re comfortable with pivot tables, you can use them here. Most people aren’t. So you’ll scan your list, and look for names that are the same. When you find them, simply add the X’s to all the appropriate organizations, and delete the duplicates. This is a good exercise for familiarizing yourself with the players in your community.

Now, on the second line, under connections, copy and paste the following formula “=counta(E2:AS2)” down your entire list. This will count the number of organizations that the person is associated with. Now fill down for every name on your list. This is accomplished by selecting the top cell on your list (the one with the formula, not the title), and dragging down to the bottom of your list. Now press control and “d”. This will put the formula in all of your lines.

Lastly, sort your spreadsheet by that column by the connections column.

Here’s what I came up with after inputting four organizations. Obviously, the more you put in, the better your matrix will be.

You can download my file here – Sample.

Making it Useful

But what does it mean to you? How is this anything other than an academic exercise?

When you’re looking to add people to your organization, you’ll want to start with the most connected people in town. These are the people you want on your nominating committees. They’re the ones who know people – even if they aren’t able to volunteer for you, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

These are also the people you want on your fundraising committees. Remember that people give to people, and a big Rolodex is the key to a successful fundraiser. The key to raising a lot of money is getting the right people to make the right asks.

But where do you get started? Ideally, you may see a few names start showing up of people you know. They could be the ones to help you get the introductions.

If you’re starting in a brand new community, I’d suggest visiting your local Rotary Club, or other civic organizations – and consider joining.

Photo by jared

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