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Remember the Gremlins (I Mean Donors)

New donors are like baby gremlins. You may remember the 1984 American horror comedy as a film about a young man who receives a strange creature called a mogwai, a small furry something, as a pet from his father. There is great responsibility in owning a mogwai, however. It shouldn’t be exposed to sunlight, touched by water, or fed after midnight. Cute, cuddly, and adorable that’s what mogwai was. The young man was well on his way to building a lasting relationship with the mogwai when, as luck would have it, water spilled on the gremlin. All hell then breaks loose.

Here’s my point: new donors are very much like baby gremlins in that there is great responsibility in retaining them after receipt of the first gift. It takes time to nurture them, and it takes real effort, patience, and careful stewarding of the budding relationship.

I bring this up because at conferences, I hear a lot of talk about the importance of doing a better job welcoming and nurturing donors. Unfortunately, what I don’t see too much of is the action to back up the talk. In other words, lots of discussion but no implementation.

Consider for awhile what it would be like to be one of your new donors.

What did the new donor do that gave her a great deal of satisfaction? She answered your call for help and and gave you money so you could do something. You had a single moment in time where you shared an interest to do good. So, why not suggest she do it again?

Sometimes the best strategies for new donors should be based on what meets the donors’ needs for affirmation, reflects the donors’ personal values and simply makes the donor feel good.

While imagining yourself as the new donor, think about knowing you’re needed and that helping someone gives you the chance to enjoy the moment again, and the opportunity to know you’ve done the right thing.

I strongly suggest you consider re-mailing communications that motivated new donors to give that all-important first gift.

Please don’t start off by telling them about your needs. Instead, remind them that your mission to serve those in need is ALL made possible by their gifts…and let them help again, maybe even for the same reason.

Often, over time, you’ll find that they will come to respect the bigger picture of who you are and what you do.

For the first two or three months, make sure that all of your communications are 100% donor-focused by making sure that you talk about what inspired the new donors to give in the first place.

You really don’t want your donor to turn into a mean gremlin now do you? And when I say mean, unless you’ve seen the movie you have no idea!

If you go back and watch the movie for the first or the fifteenth time, let me know what you think of the donor/gremlin analogy.

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