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Moving From Transactions to Interactions in Your Non-Profit

Non-profits of the future will treat their donors and volunteers more like customers than vendors as they seek to accomplish their mission.

blackbaud multi-channel customer

Blackbaud’s Infographic on Online Influencers illustrates the Multichannel Consumer. They take it information from a variety of devices (phone, tablet, TV, laptop computer) and sources (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, YouTube, news websites, etc). Because they are regularly interacting in a variety of places, they expect you to be there as well.

If you only send them information in one channel (often the channel you prefer, often direct mail or email), then chances are some volunteers and donors do not feel as connected to you as they would like.

The tremendous shift that is taking place is described well in The Future of Relationship Fundraising:

“In the 1980’s fundraisers sold to their donors. They marketed at them. I believe that approach is wrong. It is ultimately counterproductive. I believe that a sales approach is wrong because it is too adversarial and reduces fundraising to being just like any other kind of commercial transaction.”The Future of Relationship Fundraising, Ken Burnett takes an interactive rather than transactive approach to fundraising.


Their homepage invites potential donors to participate with them in their cause. The language and fonts they use have an informal tone that is meant to demonstrate their personality. They use emotion-filled photos and bright colors to communicate their passion. includes an image of a hand-drawn picture from a child during the giving check-out process. At the start of the giving process they have committed to building a relationship and bringing gratitude to the forefront (“Thank you for the books”). and model the focus on interaction that will define the communication orientation non-profits will take when mobilizing donors and volunteers.


  1. Brian, great post! I totally agree that this is the way non-profits need to be thinking.

    My mind is going now on what this would look like for the church and interacting with people who give.

    I can feel a blog post a-brewin 🙂

    Would love to hear your thoughts.

    • Josh–one specific thought was in relation to people who give to a church for the first time. It seems like acknowledging that they have given for the first time, educating them about the values of the church and where the money will go, and helping them feel like they are a part of a large group of church members that give could be huge.

      Seems like first-time church donors wonder how much other people give and how often. It wouldn’t be about answering this directly but showing them that lots of people enjoy giving and do it frequently.

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