Don’t assume that just because someone gives money to your nonprofit organization that they’re a donor.

Even if they give to an activity that you consider “fundraising,” they still may not be a donor.

If people purchase tickets to an event, that’s not a donation – they’re getting something in return.  Same thing if they’re playing in your golf tournament.  Or attending your gala. If people give to someone who is walking in your walk-a-thon, they’re not making a donation to support your cause.  They’re supporting the person who is walking. When people buy cookies from your bake sale, it’s not a donation.  When they vote for the beautiful baby, it’s not a donation.

Sure, all this money still comes to you and you may count it toward your fundraising goals, but it’s all transactional.  People are giving because they’re getting something in return. They aren’t giving because they love your organization and want to support the great work you do.

Which, by the way, is the TOP reason you want someone to give – because they care about the people your nonprofit’s work is supporting.

When people give transactionally, they aren’t committed to your nonprofit and they won’t be around to support your work long-term.  People who give to transform the lives of your nonprofit’s clients care deeply and want to see you succeed.

This is one of the main principles behind Get Fully Funded. And it’s a good one to follow.



  1. Claudia Wittel says:

    I agree the difference between transactions and donations makes all the difference. Do you have any stats for orgs that have successfully cultivated transactional support into true donors. I am thinking this would be especially helpful for start up orgs that are still working on developing the initial core supporters… Thanks!

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