Most non-profits see lapsed donors as a bad thing… and rightfully so. If your organization is having trouble retaining donors, it’s a clear sign that you need to change your donor cultivation and stewardship strategy.
The truth is, though, that lapsed donors also represent a significant opportunity for your non-profit. Reactivating lapsed donors (those who have given to your non-profit in the past, but subsequently stopped giving) should be a part of every non-profit’s annual giving strategy.
Lapsed Donors Make Good Prospects
The reason lapsed donors make good prospects for your non-profit is because they have already indicated that they care about your mission, and are willing to write a check to support your work. They have stopped giving to your organization, but don’t assume that the reason they lapsed was because they stopped caring about your mission or stopped having the capacity to give.
Many donors lapse for seemingly mundane reasons: they somehow missed your last two appeal letters, they’ve been meaning to write a check and simply haven’t gotten around to it, or perhaps your organization dropped the ball and never asked them to give again.
Whatever the reason your donors have stopped giving, there’s no harm in asking them to start giving again. Even those donors who stopped giving because they had a bad experience with your organization may reconsider after a conversation with your team. You never know unless you ask!
When Reactivating Lapsed Donors, Be Direct
Many non-profits beat around the bush when asking lapsed donors to come back into the fold. They hem and haw, talk in circles, and avoid making outright asks. This is a big mistake. Donors will only give unless you ask… and lapsed donors will only start giving again if you directly ask them to do so.
For major and mid-level lapsed donors, you’ll want to set up meetings or schedule phone calls with them to deliver your reactivation message. Lower-dollar donors can be approached through a reactivation letter or e-mail.
In my experience, the best way to reactive lapsed donors is to run a reactivation campaign – this means setting up a time each year when your team focuses on reactivating all of the donors who have lapsed over the past year. Treating reactivation like a campaign helps make sure that you have the time and bandwidth to really focus on your lapsed donors and have the best chance of bringing as many as possible back to active donor status.
How to Reactivate Your Lapsed Donors
Whether you are approaching your lapsed donors in person, on the phone, or through a letter or e-mail, use the following formula to ask them to start giving again:
First, thank your donors for their past gifts to your organization. It is important that your lapsed donors know that even though they haven’t given recently, you still consider them essential to your work.
Second, show your donors all that you have accomplished over the past few years. Let them know that you wouldn’t be where you are today without them. Let them see the great outcomes you have achieved with their previous gifts.
Third, tell your donors you miss them, and that you would love for them to stay involved with your non-profit.
Finally, ask them to take action. This ask can be for a donation, or for them to attend a non-ask event, or for a one-on-one meeting, or for any other opportunity you can give them to get reconnected with your non-profit.
Don’t ignore your lapsed donors… they can be an important source of fundraising support for your non-profit. Put a lapsed donor reactivation system in place at your organization this year!