5 Ways to Re-engage with Lapsed Donors

Re-engage Lapsed Donors
Date Published
07/10/2016

The best donors are the ones who remain engaged with your organization and give year after year. But, it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes good donors stop giving. Here are five things you can do to help win them back.

  1. Understand that all lapsed donors are not the same
    Segmentation and targeting are the key to success. There are some donors who just won’t give again. When selecting the list for a lapsed donor recapture, first determine which donors you consider lapsed. Are they lapsed if they’re in their 13th or 14th month? 25th? Determine how deep into your lapsed file it makes sense to mail based on an RFM analysis (recency, frequency, and monetary value).
  2. Donors renew the way they were acquired
    In order to successfully re-engage donors, it’s important to understand what motivated them to give in the first place. How did they first become a donor? How often have they donated? How much did they give? Where did they give—was it through a peer-to-peer fundraiser? A one-time event? In response to a premium offer? Or did they respond to a mission-oriented appeal? Their giving history should determine how you talk to them. Based on this information, you can segment the list, tailor the appeal to engage them in a way that would be most compelling to them, and determine how much you ask that they give.
  3. Remind them that they’re important to your mission
    Donors want to know that their contribution makes a difference. Thank them for their past contributions, and remind them that their support is still important. Explain what still needs to be done, how their gift will be used, and the consequences of not giving.
  4. Use different channels
    Integrate an email campaign with your direct mail appeal and follow up with a phone call, if warranted based on donor value. A phone call is a more personal approach and could help donors feel as though their support will make a big difference. Following up any direct mail appeal with an email reinforces the need and offers an alternate way to give.
  5. Know when to let go
    There are some donors who are simply not going to give another gift to your organization. It would be a waste of time and money to keep targeting a lapsed donor who fits the profile of a one-time donor, or who appears to have moved on. In a previous blog post, Is Your Suppress File Limiting Your Results?, I talk about qualifying deep-lapsed prospects to determine if they should be removed from your suppression file. The same logic applies to your targeting strategy for mailing lapsed members. Look at how long ago they gave, how much they gave, and through which channel. Recently lapsed donors with a history of multiple gifts are much more likely to give again than those who donated just one small gift a few years ago.

A strong lapsed donor recapture strategy should be part of your overall marketing and revenue generating plan. Knowing how to segment, target, and connect with this pool of prospects can be very profitable.

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