Most nonprofits leaders probably think this question is about fundraising. It is, but that’s not all. 

As a nonprofit leader, staff or board member, answer these questions about every facet of your organization:

Fundraising: Nonprofits that have a successful track record at raising monies, getting grant funding, expanding giving units and maximizing special events know that being relational pays off in the long run. Having a focus on transactions creates a short-term, feel-good success, but not a long-term one. Being transactional means your organization works hard at getting more people to your annual gala than the previous years’ galas; being relational means you have a 90% retention of gala-goers year-to-year.

Programs and Services: Are your organization’s programs and services filling a transactional need or creating a relational journey with those you serve? Is your funding based on outcomes, or have you transitioned to also make certain your funding is based on “how comes” – meaningful stories about how your organization is changing lives?  Being transactional often means being focused on outcomes and improvements year over year; being relational often means your organization has a connectedness to those it serves that moves the impact you’re making in their lives from a spreadsheet to a storyline.

Board and Staff Recruitment and Retention: Author Jim Collins (Good to Great) uses the idea of getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats – and getting the wrong people off the bus. Getting the right people on the bus is transactional – your organization has 12 seats on its board, you recruit to have 12 board members. Getting the right people on the bus in the right seats is relational. Not only will you get the number of board members needed, but they’ll represent the skills, experiences and backgrounds your organization needs to prosper.

Brand and Communications: Does your organization have a name or a brand? Name is its identifier – it’s what others call it. Names are transactional. Or, is your organization a brand? Having a brand is your organization’s differentiator – it’s the experience and feeling that those who are engaged with your organization have. It’s much deeper than a name. Brands are relational.

As you consider if your nonprofit is transactional or relational, consider the many benefits of being relational: raise more money from more donors, have a greater impact on the lives of those you serve, get the right people in the right seats on your organization’s bus and move your organization from simply having a name that identifies it to a brand that differentiates it.