Relationships
Get Started
Navigating the Relationship Page
Understanding Relationship Categories
Adding a New Relationship
Editing a Relationship
How do I know if the relationship I want to add belongs in LittleSis?
Why are some categories not available when I’m adding a new relationship?

More on Relationships
I’m adding a new relationship between a person and an organization where they are a Board member--what’s the correct category?
I’m adding a new relationship between a person and a school where they teach--what’s the correct category?
I’m adding a new relationship between a company and the government agency/official that company is lobbying--what’s the correct category?
I’m adding a new Service/Transactions relationship--what goes in the blanks between the people/organizations?
How do I find out about a person’s donations in order to add them?
I accidentally added a relationship that already exists! What should I do?
What should I do if I notice an error on a relationship?


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Navigating the Relationship Page
To view a relationship page, click any relationship title found on a person/organization’s profile. Each title is listed below the other person/organization in the relationship and organized by the relationship categories. When there is more than one relationship between the same entities, a number will appear-- [+1] for example--that you can click to see the other relationships.
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Understanding Relationship Categories
There are 10 categories of relationships in LittleSis that help us organize relationships on profile pages and create advanced searches. Analysts can create relationships between 2 people (P+P), 2 organizations (O+O) or a person and an organization (P+O), but not all categories apply.
  1. Position (P+O/P+P only)
    When a person has a place in an organizational hierarchy, usually carrying a title. Positions can be paid or unpaid. Examples - CEO, Director, Trustee, Chief Counsel, Professor, etc.
  2. Education (P+O only)
    When a person attends a school or educational program as a student.
  3. Membership
    When a person is a member of a membership organization, but doesn’t hold a position, or when an organization is a member of a larger coalition or association. Examples - AFL-CIO, NRA, National Association of Manufacturers, etc.
  4. Donation/Grant
    A gift transfer of money, goods, or services with nothing due in return. Examples - political funding, contributions to charities, government grants, prizes.
  5. Service/Transaction
    An exchange of money, goods, or services of about equal value. Examples - purchases, consulting, contract work, accounting, trades, etc.
  6. Lobbying
    When an organization directly lobbies a government agency or official. Examples - organization that employs lobbyists in-house, lobbying firm hired by an organization
  7. Ownership (O+O/P+O only)
    When a person or organization has full or partial ownership of an organization. Examples - sole proprietor, limited partners, shareholders, etc.
  8. Hierarchy (O+O only)
    When an organization is the parent or child of another organization. Examples - foundation, lobbying arm, political arm, etc.
  9. Family (P+P only)
    When two people are part of the same family. Examples - children, spouses, cousins, siblings, etc.
  10. Social (P+P only)
    When two people are socially acquainted. Examples - friends, rivals, lovers, tennis partners, etc.
  11. Professional (P+P only)
    When two people have a direct working or business relationship. Examples - co-writers, business partners, mentors, etc.
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Adding a New Relationship
All analysts can add relationships between different people and organizations on LittleSis.
  1. Search for the organization or person (eg. Larry Summers, former Director of the National Economic Council) whose relationship you want to add.
  2. Click their name to go to their profile.
  3. Look over their profile to see if the relationship you want to add already exists.
  4. Click Add Relationship in the profile page header.
  5. Search for the person or organization you want to relate this person to, making sure to consider spelling and possible nicknames.
  6. Click Select next to their name in the search results.
  7. If the person/org you’re looking for doesn’t come up, fill out the form and click Create at the bottom of the page to add them instantly.
  8. Select the category that describes this relationship.
  9. Reference the source of the new information you are about to add.
  10. Click Add to continue.
  11. Describe the relationship with as much detail as your source provides. Keep in mind that relationships are the most important part of LittleSis, so the more detail the better.
  12. Click Save to finish.
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Editing a Relationship
All analysts can edit any relationship in LittleSis to add new information or correct errors.
  1. Find the relationship you want to edit on a person/organization’s profile page.
  2. Click the relationship title.
  3. Click Edit in the relationship page header.
  4. Reference the source of the new information you are about to add/change.
  5. Make changes and click Save to finish.
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How do I know if the relationship I want to add belongs in LittleSis?

LittleSis tracks influence and power with respect to policy-making and the public sphere. We try to keep relationships limited to people and organizations with significant access, influence, and wealth.
Finger Most relationships are important, but at least add the ones that link people or organizations already in the database.

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Why are some categories not available when I’m adding a new relationship?

Analysts can create relationships between 2 people (P+P), 2 organizations (O+O) or a person and an organization (P+O), but not all categories apply. Only the categories that apply to the type of relationship you’re creating will be available to select.

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I’m adding a new relationship between a person and an organization where they are a Board member--what’s the correct category?

The correct category for this relationship is Position. Any relationship where the person has a title in the organizational hierarchy (ie. Board Member) should be categorized as Position. The same is true for members of advisory boards, councils, committees, etc.

The Membership category is used only to describe the relationship between a person and the organization where they are a member, without a title or significant responsibilities.

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I’m adding a new relationship between a person and a school where they teach--what’s the correct category?

The correct category for this relationship is Position. Any relationship where the person has a title in the organizational hierarchy (ie. Professor) should be categorized as Position.

The Education category is used only to describe the relationship between a person and the school they attended as a student

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I’m adding a new relationship between a company and the government agency/official that company is lobbying--what’s the correct category?

If the company is lobbying directly--meaning the lobbyist is an employee of the company--the correct category is Lobbying.

If the company is lobbying indirectly through a firm they’ve hired--meaning the lobbyist is an employee of that firm, not the company--you may need to add up to three different relationships. Once you’ve added each relationship, each relationship page displays all the information.

  • The relationship between the lobbyist and the firm should be categorized as Position.
  • The relationship between the company and the firm should be categorized as Service/Transaction
  • The relationship between the firm and the government agency/official should be categorized as Lobbying.
Check out our research guide on LDA disclosure filings to learn more about how to research federal lobbying activity.

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I’m adding a new Service/Transactions relationship--what goes in the blanks between the people/organizations?

Use those spaces to name or describe the service exchanged--for example, one person/organization is often a client of another--to give users looking at their profiles a better idea of what the relationship is about. It’s also fine to leave them blank if you don’t have much information about the service exchanged.

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How do I find out about a person’s donations in order to add them?

Advanced analysts can easily find and add federal political donations made by people in LittleSis by matching their names to donors in OpenSecrets. To check your level, click your username and click Settings on your dashboard header.

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I accidentally added a relationship that already exists! What should I do?

Click the Flag button in the header of the duplicate relationship and complete the form to notify us of the problem. We will make the correction as soon as possible.

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What should I do if I notice an error on a relationship?

Use the references to try to find the correct information and make the change(s). Otherwise you can click the Flag button in the relationship header and complete the form to notify us of a problem pertaining to that profile. If the error seems to be systemic—occurring on more than one profile— please contact us.

Because we collected most of the core data on the site using automated processes, and because the site includes data on nearly 50,000 individuals and organizations—too much for us to verify by hand—there are some errors in the data. Thanks for helping us sort them out!