Social Network Analysis

Resource Type

Visual Mapping

These resources result in a visual representation of systems, each through a particular lens (e.g., social relationships, political power, issues and concepts).

Systems Questions


What is the social network and how can we influence it?

Grantmaking Stages

Identify and select grantees

Resources in this category can help you understand who is in the system, the strength and content of their relationships, who is missing and the power dynamics among them.

Assess impact and learn

Resources in this category can help you assess impact and learn. Since learning is often an iterative and emergent process in systems grantmaking, these resources may overlap with other grantmaking stages.


Flexible from no/some participation to highly participatory


Someone who has been trained on the resource and/or An expert with specialized knowledge or technology


Less than 1 month

What's its purpose in systems grantmaking?

To influence a system’s social structure by identifying key actors; roles; relationships; and how information, action, and behaviors flow across the network.

What is it?

A visual mapping technique to show how people connect and relate to each other.

When is it useful?

  • When you are trying to build social capital in a community, field or movement
  • When fragmentation, silos or power dynamics hinder progress on an issue

What are tips and cautions for systems grantmakers and the social sector?

  • Social Network Analysis has been adapted to understand different types of information (e.g., Values Mapping) and different types of actors (e.g., Social Movement Mapping).  
  • It’s possible to do basic mapping of social networks without software, which may be a useful exercise when forming collaborations or networks within the social sector. 
  • Incorporating diverse perspectives triangulates information and ensures accuracy of the social network analysis.
  • Social Network Analysis can be used to identify the diverse perspectives needed to engage in systems change work, even if there is no intention to build a network.
  • Software is helpful for analyzing very large networks, but can also detach the process from the people involved. Grantmakers need to balance technological approaches with participatory processes that build relationships.
  • Social Network Analysis may be enhanced by other resources, like Power AnalysisSenseMaker®; and the Containers, Differences and Exchanges Model, which help forge understanding with respect to how a network interacts with and affects systems. 


Engage: How Funders Can Support and Leverage Networks for Social Impact

By The Rockefeller Foundation


Gephi is a visualization platform for mapping social networks and analyzing them at a mathematical level. It is useful in measuring network growth and evolution. 


Heather McLeod Grant

McLeod Grant Advisors

David Sawyer

Converge for Impact

David Ehrlichman

Converge for Impact