Transactional Philanthropy

A transaction is not a philanthropic action.  Social sector causes mistake membership renewals, silent auction bids, purchasing tables at a gala, or sponsorships of programs as philanthropic.  If goods and services are exchanged in consideration for a ‘donation’ then define the interaction as transactional.  However, if somebody wants to support your vision by providing fuel (money, resources, talent, networks) for your journey in exchange for the stories you share and the dent you plan to make in the community, then that interaction is philanthropic.  Twisting arms, offering benefits, hyping features are transactions.  Nothing wrong with this tactic but defining them as acts of philanthropy is inconsistent.  Most corporations no longer practice philanthropy, their transactions with social sector enterprises are approved by the marketing department who is thinking of the corporation’s positioning as well as the the nonprofit’s success.   Transactions can be a powerful tool but the motivation of the contributors are different from the true philanthropist.  Consider the following question, who takes your calls when you offer only the stories that come from the pursuit of our organization’s vision?  Those are your philanthropist.

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