Last Friday I visited a brand new Starbucks near my house. As I quite often will work from public places like Starbucks, you never know the type of people you will run into, especially in Phoenix.

After a 3 hour work session, I headed out the door to go pick up my kids from school. It was another half-day and I didn’t want to be late picking them up.

Suddenly, a guy in his early 20’s approaches me.

He’s wearing shorts and a tank top, carrying a plastic bag, and looked like he hadn’t showered in weeks.

He asked me if I had any money to spare so he could get something to eat. I said, sorry, “I don’t have any cash on me.”

Then he asked if we could go back inside of the Starbucks so I could purchase him a sandwich.

Now, I don’t know about you, but Starbucks isn’t known for their inexpensive sandwiches like McDonalds.

But, without hesitating I said, “Sure, we can do that.”

At that moment, I started feeling good about myself because even though I was in a hurry, I was going to show some kindness and get this man something to eat, in a clean place. After all, I believe all people were created equally and should be treated with dignity.

However, something odd began to happen as we approached the cashier.

I asked the stranger, “What do you want to eat?”

He says, “How about a sandwich and a sweet treat?”

My first thought was this isn’t kindergarten and I’m not your momma. I’m here to get you a sandwich.

So I said, “Lets just choose one. Do you want a sandwich or a sweet treat?”

Disappointed he said, “Fine. I’ll just take the sandwich there.”

Then, without hesitation, the stranger walked away.

No, thank you. No, look of happiness. Only disappointment that he had to settle for just an over priced breakfast sandwich.

I cringed.

For about a half a second as he walked away to put his stuff down, I seriously considered walking out of there without buying the sandwich.

Begrudgingly…I paid.

As I was signing the receipt he casually walked up by me and didn’t say anything.

I turned to him, stuck out my hand, and said, “Your welcome.”

To which he sheepishly said, “Thanks” and barely shook my hand.

I. was. mad.

I couldn’t believe the audacity of this guy. I couldn’t believe the gall he had.

He interrupted my day with a request for money. I didn’t know him, like him, or trust him.

Out of the goodness of my heart, I walked back into the store, where he proceeded to ask for more than he originally asked for.

He wasn’t even satisfied with what I gave him…

And then, he could barely say thank you as if I OWED him something.


As I pondered this scenario in my car, driving off, I kept thinking, that was the last time I would buy some homeless guy a sandwich.

Then, I got thinking about how so many nonprofits do the exact same thing…

As nonprofit marketers, its so easy to become overly focused on the numbers, the bottom line, that we forget that our donors are:

1. Busy. They do not rise and shine, thinking about your nonprofit and how they can make a gift today.

2. People with real emotions. Our donors can get their feelings hurt. If we treat them like we don’t really care about them or their donations, should we expect them to keep giving?

3. People who care. Yes, they care about your cause, but they also care about who they give their money to and that their donation isn’t just treated as a transaction.

Here’s how this guy could have made me want to give him more:

1. When he approached, he could have said, “Sir, I know you’re busy, but I’ve been struggling to keep a job because I have a drug addiction (honesty). I’m trying to get clean, but its a struggle. I haven’t eaten for days so would it be possible for you buy me just a sandwich? I would be so grateful.”

2. When we went inside, he could have asked me, “Sir, which sandwich could I get? Is it okay if I get a treat too? If not, I totally understand.”

3. After picking the sandwich, he should have immediately said, “Oh, thank you so much sir. This means the world to me that you would go out of your way to provide a meal for me today. Its been days since I’ve had something to eat that wasn’t from the garbage.”

Now, think about this in the context of your nonprofit:

1. When you approach people for a donation, do you do it with kindness or is it transactional? Are you honest with why you are asking or do you ask with a sense of entitlement?

2. When you ask for another gift, do you acknowledge that they’ve already given once before or do you just assume they should just keep giving to you?

3. Do you thank your donors? I’m not just talking about an auto-email. Do you go out of your way with phone calls, texts, tweets?

Listen guys…

The more we treat our donors with respect, dignity, and the way we want to be treated, the greater they will engage with our organization…and the more they will want to give, because they are invested.

If you can get donors and potential donors to invest in the story of what you do, you’ll never have a problem raising money.

As most of you know, that’s what Converge does. We help nonprofits and ministries raise money using Facebook advertising and email.

If that’s something you would like to learn more about, I want to invite you and your team for a free 30 minute strategy session to help you implement what we call the Facebook Fundraising Blueprint.

We’ll go over your current goals and budget and help you start implementing right away.

If you’re ready to jump on a call, click this link to book a call with me and the team at Converge.

To your success!