Are Your Fostering a Relationship or a Transaction?

We are all confronted with two seemingly opposing forces with our fundraising efforts. Building a relationship with our donor should always be front and center for us. We know that without a compelling relationship with our supporter no relationship can continue over the long-term — it will simply die out because there is no inspiring reason for it to continue.

Any strong relationship demands an exchange of affinity, viewpoint, collaboration, advocacy, and so forth. The conundrum we face though is the inescapable fact that we need to have an interchange of transactions to take place in order to establish and maintain a relationship. These transactions typically include sending a direct mail package, an email or a phone call to the supporter. But it cannot end there.

We find ourselves in the awkward space of needing to create transactions between the nonprofit and our supporter with compelling, focused, and meaningful messages but we often fall back on the more mechanical methods that have worked in the past but are less than personal and not very compelling.

Regardless though, the bottom-line is that a relationship cannot exist without some form of transaction taking place. What we want to avoid is making this one sided (the nonprofit always sending an appeal for funds) and the supporter finding no opportunity to engage in a deeper relationship (volunteering is an example).

We need to provide opportunities for our supporters to relate to us through transactions that reinforce their passion for the organization and that will help foster and build enduring relationships that go beyond us asking for money and the donor writing a check.

This means, to me anyway, that the focus shouldn’t be asking for more and more money, but find ways to move beyond this by reporting on all our great accomplishments and highlighting all the good work that the nonprofit is accomplishing with the donor funds  —  re-directed the message back to the donor by shining the spotlight on them.

Make them the hero; let them know your charity couldn’t live without them; let them know your deep, deep gratitude for having chosen your organization to support. And slowly, over time, draw them in closer and closer to what you do – make them part of something bigger than themselves.

If we do this we will develop great relationships that lead to long-term, fruitful relationships!!