Wise words from a frog on donor recapture initiatives

This week we’re looking for non-profit and fundraising advice from one of my favorite books — “It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider” — written by Jim Henson, The Muppets, and Friends. In yesterday’s post, we examined song lyrics from Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band and the importance of training your annual campaign volunteer solicitors. Today, we look at a quote from Kermit the Frog and the concept of re-engaging lapsed donors.

The following passage is something Kermit said in one of the muppet movies. I think these words are inspirational for non-profit and fundraising professionals who are looking at a long list of lapsed donors and contemplating how to re-engage them.

“Look at all those people out there. Lots of people. But my friends . . . my friends are all gone. Well, I’m, I’m going to get ’em back. I’m gonna get ’em back! ‘Cause the show’s not dead as long as I believe in it. And I’m gonna sell that show. And we’re all gonna be on Broadway. You hear me, New York? We’re gonna be on Broadway! Because, because I’m not giving up! I’m still here and I’m stayin’! You hear that, New York? I’m stayin’ right here. The frog is stayin’.”

While every non-profit organization’s donor recapture initiative will likely look a little different due to circumstances and available resources, they are all rooted in the following foundational approaches:

  • Identifying which lapsed donors are the best candidates for your recapture activities,
  • Assessment to determine if there were systemic reasons for the donor disengaging,
  • Developing a case for support specifically focused on why a donor should come back, and
  • Creating a plan that involves varied cultivation, solicitation, stewardship and testing strategies that uniquely speak to a family member who has been away from home for a while.

Doing all of this falls into the category of “good strategy,” but what Kermit speaks to is something entirely different — good attitude.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve opened a letter, taken a phone call or visited with a fundraising professional who wants to engage me in a conversation about renewing my lapsed financial support. For me, it is all about tone and energy. I can tell if you really care about me or if you just care about my dollars. I can tell if you believe in your heart that I’m a member of your non-profit family.

You can put together the most strategically sound donor recapture initiative and still fall short if you don’t take Kermit’s words to heart about:

  • Being perseverant and demonstrating sticktoitiveness,
  • Believing in a cause, and
  • Understanding the concept of salesmanship.

Jerry Juhl was a good friend of Jim Henson and a puppeteer associated with the muppets. He said, “Kermit is the eye in the middle of the hurricane. And, you know, he’s always in control. And the interesting thing about it, of course, is that he created the hurricane.”

Every fundraising professional should take these words to heart because: 1) you are at the center of your agency’s fundraising program, 2) you need to always exude a sense ofbeing  calm, cool and collected, and 3) you likely created the situation that you’re currently dealing with.

Has your agency every created or invested in a donor recapture initiative? If so, please share what it looked like? If you created a special case for support, what were some of the messages and themes you hit upon? How did you infuse emotion into your efforts? Please scroll down and share your thoughts using the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

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