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Lapsed Donors Are Like Old Friends. Here’s Why You Need To Re-Engage Them



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Lapsed Donor

As you review your donor database management system throughout the year, you might find that donors who have given before are missing from the roster. And while most lapsed donors do so for reasons out of your control, there will always be some who would give again, if only they were re-engaged. And those supporters are worth focusing on!

You Should Definitely Re-Engage Lapsed Donors

It’s going to be a lot easier—and less expensive—to re-engage lapsed donors than it will be to find new ones. 

Lapsed donors aren’t “cold” prospects. You don’t have to educate them on your cause or community, and you don’t have to convince them that you’re a legitimate organization worthy of their contribution. 

At one point, they supported you. And most likely, they still do. 

Lapsed donors are full of important information. It’s valuable to understand why donors lapse and at what point in your year or donor cultivation cycle. 

Yes, some donors have lapsed because of reasons that aren’t within your control. But you might find others lost interest when they didn’t hear from you, felt annoyed when they got asks from you too much or felt unrecognized for their efforts. 

This feedback can help you retain donors at a higher rate in the future.

So what can you do to re-engage lapsed donors?

Reach Out, Personally

In-person coffee dates are great for VIP or major donors who you’ve had a personal connection with in the past, but they also take a lot of staff time and resources. 

Phone calls and face-to-face Zoom sessions can be perfect alternatives for getting lapsed donors up-to-speed on all the great work your organization has done recently. 

At the very least, send a handwritten note to thank your donor for their past support and express your hopes that you’ll hear from them again soon.

Send Targeted and Personalized Emails

You can use your email list to try again to reach lapsed supporters who haven’t clicked “open” in a while. This is where segmenting that subscriber list is crucial—this isn’t a communication you want landing in the inboxes of your most engaged readers!

Ask for their opinion and clarity around what content they’d like to see from you. Give them the opportunity to provide feedback on your communications and donor relations. Implement that feedback as much as possible when you get it.

Personalize all communications by using their name in the greeting and in a handful of appropriate places throughout the body of the email. Steer clear of "Dear Friend"!

Acknowledge Their Giving Anniversary

As you segment your donor lists and note any lapsed donors, jot down the date of their last donation. You can note the anniversary of their last gift by sending a letter or email thanking them for it again. 

Share the impact their donation had on your organization and the great work they helped you accomplish since they gave. 

Have A Plan

Remember that you need a full-fledged plan for re-engaging your lapsed donors—just like your regular donors!

Make a genuine effort to understand their preferences and the interest they have in your organization. Even if they can no longer donate, all supporters can be genuine assets to your organization through volunteering, providing feedback, and promoting the work of your nonprofit to their friends and networks. 

Lapsed Donors Are Like Old Friends. . .

Development is, first and foremost, about connecting with the people around you who support the work of your organization. 

Old friends may go a while without chatting, but the relationship is still open—and you can think of your lapsed donors the same way! 

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