Factary Atom: Network Mapping

At Factary we have developed Atom – network mapping that has been designed expressly for the non-profit sector.

To explore how Factary Atom works and how it can be used by your organisation, explore the various links below.

Databases: useful, but not for everything

Almost all organisations within the UK’s non-profit sector use databases to great effect. They’re useful for answering questions like these:

But there are certain things that a database can’t tell you.

Databases are great for storing and retrieving information about your individual supporters. But if you would like to know anything about the ways in which your supporters are related a database becomes much less useful.

Next section: What is Network Mapping?

What is Network Mapping?

Each object within a database is mapped in terms of how it connects with other objects, building a picture of the linkages that lie hidden in the data.

Information in a database is most often represented as a table. Finding the links between data in this format is difficult because it requires checking each cell of the table against every other. A network map concentrates on the information which is masked by the standard tabular or spreadsheet format of a database – the relationships between the individuals it contains.

Next section: How Atom Works

How it works

The following images show a map built by Atom stage by stage.

Individuals are represented by a diamond icon.

Business positions are added.

Non-profit positions are also added.

Any club and/or society memberships follow.

Finally, educational history is added.

As more individuals are added to the map links begin to form between individuals, bridged by shared positions or affiliations.

Finally, direct links between individuals are drawn. These are mapped only where people were at the same organisation in the same year(s).

The image below shows the same map from the preceding examples with the organisations filtered out, so that only individuals and the direct linkages between them are visible.

Note that, though Geoffrey Jefferson (top right) and Graeme Gerhard (bottom right) both attended the University of Helby, the pink circle linking them, they haven’t been directly linked as they did not attend at the same time.

Samantha Cartwright also has a noticeably larger halo; halo size corresponds to the number of links that node has to other nodes.

As Samantha links to Graeme and Geoffrey but they do not link to one another, Atom has drawn her halo twice as large as theirs. This applies to organisation nodes as well.

It’s also noticeable that Graeme is closer to Samantha than Geoffrey. This is because, as can be seen in the full map, Samantha and Graeme share two positions – a trusteeship and a club membership – while Samantha and Geoffrey share only one company directorship.

In response to this, Atom has pulled Samantha and Geoffrey closer together, indicating the likelihood of a closer link between them.

By contrast, Robin Cartwright is closer still to Samantha, even though he doesn’t share any positions with her. He has been identified as being Samantha’s husband; such spousal or familial relationships are automatically drawn closer together by Atom than other, nonsocial relationships, corresponding to the likely closeness of such relationships.

Next section: Atom’s features


All positions mapped

Instead of concentrating solely on current business directorships Atom also maps prospects’ non-business positions, past and current.

This includes educational history, trusteeships, club or society memberships, and social relationships, wherever found in the public domain. As a result, maps produced by Atom are uniquely suited to the non-profit sector, allowing you to see relationships between individuals beyond their business interests.

Direct connections

Atom will draw direct connections between related individuals within a map, rather than relying on you to identify them.

If two individuals within a map share a position, a linkage will be drawn directly between them, as well as to the organisation that links them. Instead of working from link to link to establish whether, for example, your Chair of Trustees is connected to a prospect you’ll be able to tell, immediately and intuitively, whether the connection exists.

Time-sensitive connections

It’s not enough that two people have held directorships at the same company – in order for a connection to be drawn, the positions need to have been held during overlapping years for a true connection to be made.

With Atom, Factary has developed a method of person-to-person linking that takes account of the years in which individuals held their positions, avoiding the false positives that can occur in other mapping systems.

Dynamic connections

Atom will draw stronger connections between individuals who share multiple positions, allowing you to assess who amongst your prospects are likely to have the closest relationship.

Once you’ve found a relationship of particular interest, you’ll be able to quickly assess whether the relationship is primarily corporate, philanthropic or social in nature.

Identify clusters

Individuals who share a greater number of positions – and who are thus likely to have a correspondingly closer relationship – are automatically pulled nearer one another by Atom. This creates clusters, groups of individuals who are tightly bound together by shared interests.

Atom can automatically detect clusters within a map and assign different colours to each. This allows you to identify quickly the different groups of individuals within your data, how they connect to one another and, more importantly, which of your supporters are vital connectors, linking across the clusters within your network.


Atom allows you to tailor your map in real time to display only the information you want. You can work outwards from a single individual or organisation within your database to progressively map their ‘reach’, or show only those individuals who are linked by a charitable position. Rather than having to pick out the linkages you’re interested in as they thread through the map, you can bring them directly to the fore.

Full information

Clicking on any individual or organisation within the map will reveal summary information in a non-intrusive sidebar. This includes date of birth, contact address and other details, allowing you to immediately note down details concerning individuals of interest.

This minimises the need for you to switch between databases or, alternatively, allows easy identification of individuals via other resources such as Companies House or your own internal data.

Otherwise, you can hide the additional information to maximise screen-space for the map itself.

Next section: Atom’s uses

How can Atom be used?

What approach strategy should I use?

Atom helps you to see clearly the right approach to develop a new relationship or strengthen an existing one.

By mapping your prospects’ relationships you can see new routes emerging, strengthening your approach, increasing efficiency and ensuring that you focus on the best prospects.

Being able to immediately assess the guiding interests of your supporters will allow you to adopt the approach that will be most likely to engage them, and to keep them engaged.

How can I improve communication with my colleagues?

Atom maps can be used in your presentations to your board and management to show them how you plan to reach your prospects. Accessing Atom online will allow you to interact with your network map to emphasise links and potential.

Atom can be a brainstorming tool, allowing you to consider any number of approaches to prospects.

Or Atom maps can be used as a discussion piece with a prospect to help unearth her links and connections.

How can I coordinate my organisation’s efforts to engage prospects?

Working with a team of people means transmitting knowledge to them quickly and efficiently. Whether your team is your board, your senior management, your fundraising colleagues or volunteers, Factary Atom shows them the relationships within your data, and will help you assign the best prospects to the most relevant members of your relationship management team.

A network map is quick, attractive and intuitive. They’ll be more likely to remember it and be more effective as a result.

How should we approach this prospect?

Atom can recommend, at a glance, an angle of approach for each prospect.

A simple glance at a prospect’s node and the associated organisations can tell you whether they’re more philanthropically- or business-minded, and give you a clear picture of the sectors that interest and motivate them.

Being able to immediately assess the guiding interests of your prospects will allow you to adopt the approach that will be most likely to engage them, and to keep them engaged.

How can I find new prospects?

Atom allows you to identify the key contacts within your reach. We can start from almost anywhere – your organisation’s board, its closest donors, its trustees – and show you who they connect to, who they connect to, and so on.

We can show you all the connections, on any basis, from any starting point. All on one clear, clean map.

Combined with Factary’s other research services, honed over twenty years in prospect research, Atom is a powerful new tool to identify your best prospects and how to engage them with your organisation.

Next section: Databases