Lapsed donors. We all have them. The Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report states that the donor retention rate in 2015 was only 46%. That means you have a lot of opportunity to rebuild those relationships with your lapsed donors!

Why try to re-engage lapsed donors?

Lapsed donors may seem like a lost cause. These donors haven’t given to your nonprofit in a while – why would you spend money to try to get them to give again? Well, two reasons.

  1. They’ve already given to your nonprofit once which means that at one point, they agreed with your mission. Lapsed donors should be easier to convert than prospective donors. Just because they’ve lapsed doesn’t mean they still aren’t interested in your cause. They may have honestly forgot to give. Many “lapsed” donors do not realize they are lapsed.
  2. It’s cheaper than acquiring new donors. You already have their contact information and know what they’ve given to in the past. This means you don’t have to spend money on buying lists or sending mass appeals hoping that your offer will resonate with someone.

Rebuilding relationships

Before you start rebuilding relationships with your lapsed donors you first need to determine what “lapsed” means for your organization. Do you define lapsed as someone who hasn’t given in the last 6 months? The last year? Whatever time frame you decide make sure you segment your list accordingly.

Once you have your list segmented, you are ready to start re-engaging those donors. Here are four tips to help you do this effectively.

Get creative

You already know one thing they are interested in – the program they originally gave to. Try differentiating how you ask them to re-engage.

  • Test out different giving levels. (Maybe a lower, monthly offer works better for them than an higher one-time ask?)
  • Do you have an event being held in their area? Invite them!
  • Ask them to attend a local “vision trip”. This vision trip allows your donors to see first hand the work you are doing. Seeing the impact your having will re-energize their passion for your mission.

Make it personal

Personalization is always a great way to re-engage a lapsed donor. Depending upon your relationship with your donors, here are three unique ways you can reach out.

  1. Handwritten card. Write a personal note explaining that you miss them and let them know the work your nonprofit accomplished since they’ve last given. Handwriting a message shows your donors that you truly value their support.
  2. Get on the phone. A great way to re-engage your donors is by getting on the phone and talking to them. Start with a thank you call and organizational update. You can also ask them if there’s any way you can improve their experience. Then, when it feels appropriate, you can ask for a donation.
  3. Grab a cup of coffee. Finally, if you have a personal relationship with this donor, set up a face-to-face meeting. Share in person about your programs and ask them why they haven’t given in a while and how you can improve their experience. You can also take this time to personally invite them to an event or see your nonprofit’s work in action.

Ask them to update their preferences

The phrase “you don’t ask, you don’t get” is certainly true for fundraising, but sometimes it’s about the right way and correct amount of times you ask them. Maybe they prefer to hear from you 4x a year? Maybe they just like getting your email newsletter?

Surveys are a great way to re-engage with your donors. Send these out digitally and ask your supporters what types of communications they prefer. Or, you can hop on the phone and chat with your donors about their preferences. Either way you choose, it shows your supporters that you care about providing them with the best experience possible. Plus, it helps to prevent your supporters from unsubscribing to your emails. (Make sure you update these preferences in your database!)

If treated correctly, your lapsed donors can be a big win for your nonprofit. Try some of these tips and see how you can grow your donor base this year by focusing some of your fundraising efforts on your lapsed donors.

 

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