Handoff Versus Transition

“Handoff.” That’s a word that comes up a lot in fundraising and portfolio discussions. It’s also a word that gives me pause every time I hear it.

“Handoff” is transactional — It indicates a lack of collaboration, and rarely reflects a thoughtful pathway for someone who is supporting our institutions. So how do we move away from this transactional reference, and embrace our very best work?

First, we should remember the big picture. When we talk about portfolio management, we should consider opportunities through the institutional lens, versus the lens of our individual unit’s needs. Someone may not be a fit for our fundraising area, but they are still a valuable partner to the institution and potentially a fit for another area. We should transition them in a way that supports this larger relationship.

Second, we need to use language that better reflects valuing the relationship and our larger institutional vision. And that means getting rid of “handoff.”

The word “transition” reflects a maintenance of a relationship — shepherding an individual to the next step in their journey with the institution when that step is outside our own portfolio. “Transition” suggests we are collaborative, interested in a long-term relationship with the donor and committed to shared outcomes. All of these are important to anchor into our best work.

Through “transition,” we are growing relationships. And that is where some of our very best work happens.

Recommended Posts