Last week in our blog, The Age of Engage, we talked about how organizations that engage their donors outperform those that do not, because engaged donors give more, stay with you longer, and are more profitable than average donors.

This week, I want to paint a picture of how X-, Y- and Z-type interactions can work together to create meaningful donor engagement and maximize fundraising results.

Now remember: Z-type interactions are designed to deepen a donor’s passion for the cause. Y-type interactions are designed to deepen a donor’s relationship to the organization. X-type interactions ask for money, time or talent.

To maximize donor engagement, we believe that organizations must diversify their portfolio of interactions with donors to provide experiences that donors look forward to, rather than go out of their way to avoid. Donor engagement pathways today should be made up of X-, Y- and Z-type interactions — not just X-type interactions that constantly ask for money — if you want to engage today’s donors meaningfully.

Here is a metaphor from the sport of basketball to help you think about how X-, Y- and Z-type interactions can work together to engage donors meaningfully.

In basketball, X-type interactions are equivalent to scoring — these interactions ask for money. Y- and Z-type interactions are more like assists in basketball — these interactions don’t ask for money.

Now, take the story of two NBA Hall of Famers: Karl Malone and John Stockton. These two guys formed the greatest and most formidable duo the NBA has ever seen. They were teammates for the Utah Jazz from 1985-2003.

Stockton ended his career with the most assists in NBA history — 15,806. Malone ended his career second in all-time points scored in the NBA, second only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Their records still stand today.

As one of the greatest scorers in NBA history, Malone represents X-type interactions. As the greatest assist leader in NBA history, Stockton represents Y- and Z-type interactions.

No duo ran the pick-and-roll as effectively as Malone and Stockton. Malone would not be a leading point scorer without Stockton. And Stockton would not be the leading assist leader without Malone. They needed each other.

That’s known as synergy. The sum of the two of them working together is greater than the individual contributions from each.

That’s how X-, Y- and Z-type interactions work together to engage donors more meaningfully. Assists and scoring work hand in hand to increase donor engagement. You can’t just focus on scoring. You need the assists to help you score more. And, you can’t just focus on assists. You need to score from time to time.

Scoring and assists increase donor engagement — and increasing donor engagement produces faster, better, and more sustainable revenue. That’s the game of fundraising today.

Do you know your donors’ experience of your organization? Is it time to rethink how you could engage more meaningfully with your donors to create faster, better, and more sustainable revenue?

This is the age of scoring and assists. It’s vital today to diversify your portfolio of interactions with donors to provide experiences that donors look forward to, rather than go out of their way to avoid.

When you do that, you’ll be rewarded.

Across every industry surveyed by Gallup, engaged customers represent an average 23 percent premium in terms of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth compared with the average customer. In the restaurant world, engaged customers make 56 percent more visits per month. In hospitality, engaged customers spend 46 percent more annually. In banking, engaged customers bring 37 percent more annual revenue. In the consumer electronics business, engaged customers make 44 percent more visits.

And, engaged customers are not only much more loyal and profitable than average customers, they are more likely to be your best brand advocates.

This is the Age of Engage, an age of both scoring and assists.

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Kn Moy

Kn Moy

Kn has more than a quarter century of experience as a marketing strategist. In his role, he helps non-profit decision-makers and strategy implementers grapple with the complexity and uncertainty of the changing donor landscape. Kn was recently invited to become an adjunct professor at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Contact Kn at

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