The SEG 
Nonprofit Blog

What if They Only Want to Be a Transaction?

By Tim Deuitch  |  July 22, 2014

What if They Only Want to Be a Transaction?

Four years ago my family made nine charitable gifts that year. Seven of them were casual and small gifts, but one of them stood out and remains a priority. Here’s how.

We all understand the enormous value of supporters that voice and feel a connection beyond a regular financial gift. They are advocates and participants in the cause. As non-profit leaders we set out to create more of these relationships and mobilize our resources accordingly.

But what if they don’t want to be ‘close’?

The experience of my clients, those committed to a strong relationship building model, suggest that despite our best efforts, 70% of current supporters want only to know us the way they know us today. Despite their potential and our fabulous efforts they like us just the way we are. What to do?

Commit to a Best-In-Class transactional experience through moments that differentiate you and affirm their decision to prioritize you. The components are not complicated and they’re timeless in value, yet somehow too challenging for most non-profits to operationalize. Differentiators:

  1. Thank the supporter personally via phone call and in a timely fashion – within 72 hours of receipt of their gift – and ask which aspect of your organization they value most. How often have you received such a personal and timely contact?
  2. A personal contact – months later via phone or mail - from a leader in the organization to affirm that good things are happening and you appreciate their role in making it happen.
  3. Communication of the good works of the organization. Best-In-Class is to know which aspect of your work personally appeals to the donor (you asked for this information during #1) and tailoring the communication accordingly.
  4. Did you catch the theme?

    You can be transactional and still value the personal. The Best-In-Class transactional retailers do this all the time. Not rocket science, but tough to operationalize if you don’t fully commit.

    One important don’t...

    Don’t tell yourself that people don’t like to be bothered by phone. It’s true that some people don’t like the phone interruption but nearly all appreciate the gesture if done well. Spend your time thinking about how to do it well, put it into practice and make adjustments, and become Best- In-Class.

    That one charity I speak of uses these three approaches with me. It remains a priority and I always pay attention to its communications. Try it. You’ll have happy transactional supporters who speak well of you to others, and you just may nurture a few deeper relationships.

    How are you going to become Best-In-Class?


Tim Deuitch

Senior Performance Consultant

Tim brings over 25 years of experience working closely with business leaders throughout the Twin Cities and the USA. He has worked within a multitude of workplace cultures and economic cycles, helping leaders and teams improve their effectiveness and results. Since joining SEG in 2007, Tim has continued his work as a change agent, helping organizations meet their goals. Tim graduated from Warren Wilson College in 1983 with a B.S. degree in social work.

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