When it comes to donor management, many nonprofits overlook their lapsed donors. Most focus on finding and securing new donors and nurturing relationships with existing donors to increase loyalty and upgrade donations. Both emphases are crucial. Executing a fundraising plan that aims to recruit and retain donors is a great way to build a healthy organization.

Obviously, the more donors you can prevent from lapsing through strong retention efforts, the better. Once a donor does lapse, however, you shouldn’t expect to win them back by lumping them in with your active donors.

Lapsed donors are great prospects because they’ve already shown you they care about your organization and are willing to back up their interest with a donation. Lapsed donors are already a part of your nonprofit family—you don’t have to start from the beginning, educating them about your mission and actions.

To turn lapsed donors back into active donors, you need a plan beyond leaving them on your outreach lists. Below are some ways to reengage your lapsed donors.

Define a lapsed donor for your organization and set your tone.

First, decide who qualifies as a lapsed donor. Is it someone who hasn’t given in over 12 months? Once you define this subset and pull their information from your donor management platform, you’re ready to reach out. When you do so, keep in mind that many lapsed donors don’t think of themselves as lapsed donors.

They may still see themselves as important contributors to the cause. If you reach out with a guilt-inducing or mock-scolding tone, you’ll probably immediately turn them off of giving again. Remember that they are donors and treat them with the same respect you treat your most active donors.

Dig into your data.

Use the data you have on your lapsed donors to try to determine what motivated their gift and what precipitated their lapsing. If you know which of your lapsed donors gave because they attended an event or gave for a specific fundraising goal of yours, you’ll have ideas on the best way to reengage them.

Your data can also help you see trends around when in the donor lifecycle donors tend to fall off. Look into the timeline of your donor churn rate so you can better prepare for those moments and prevent donor lapsing in the first place.

Reach out as personally as you can.

Ideally, you would engage in one on one conversations with each of your lapsed donors by meeting face to face, making phone calls, or sending personalized emails.  Of course this takes immense time and effort. While it may be worth it to have these individual conversations, it may not be feasible for your team.

Instead, figure out ways to get as personal as you can. What information do you know about your lapsed donors? For example, if you know some of them donated after attending your biggest annual event, mention that event in your outreach.

Craft your message.

Start with gratitude. Thank your donors honestly and earnestly for their contributions to your team. Only after you’ve properly acknowledged their gifts, tell them you miss them. You loved having them as a part of your team, so make sure that’s the message you’re sending, not one of guilt.

Next, fill them in on what’s been going on at your organization and your vision for the future. Remember not to speak to them as if they don’t know anything, but as though they’re vital team members who need an update. Include stories and positive impact numbers and speak clearly about your upcoming plans and strategy.

Finally, make an ask. Sometimes your ask will be for a donation, but often, it’s best to bring them back into the organization first by asking them to an event or asking them to take an advocacy action. Be open to new ways for them to contribute as well. Perhaps they can no longer donate, but they can volunteer.

Lapsed donors are great fundraising prospects who will react positively to the right outreach. Create a specific lapsed donor plan with your team to ensure you’re creating ways to reengage as many people as possible.