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How to Reactivate Lapsed Donors in Nonprofit Fundraising

Nonprofit Fundraising  It costs a lot more money to acquire new donor than to maintain existing one  Donors lapse for many reason, a lost of interest in your organization or another organization has taken your place in their heart and wallet  Good news is lapsed donors begin to give again with some nudging

Nonprofit Fundraising Who’s a Lapsed Donor?  Organizations that hold major fundraising every two years – 24 months of inactivity  Organizations that hold regular fundraising – 12 months of inactivity

Nonprofit Fundraising An Example of a Lapsed Donor Program  Busy lives keep donors from keeping track of donations  Nonprofits should do the record keeping and reminding for donors  Here are recommended actions for donors last donations date  Nine months – Phone call or letter containing update, and request for dollar amount no higher than last gift  One year – Direct mail using lapsed language  13 months – Letter of concern indicating more than a year of no contact

Nonprofit Fundraising An Example of a Lapsed Donor Program  16 to 18 months – Phone call or mailing with an offer that’s lower than their last gift including lapsed language  21 to 24 months – A final phone call or mailing indicating a gift that will be matched dollar for dollar  25 or more months – On occasion, mail the appeals with lapsed language  Tracking your results is the most important part of lapsed donors  If you are spending more than you’re taking in, you need to let donor go

Nonprofit Fundraising Not all Lapsed Donors are Created Equal  Few things to keep in mind with lapsed donors:  Segment out lapsed donors from current donor population and speak to them differently  Lapsed donors still see themselves as current donors. Remind lapsed donors of their status by calling out last gifts or asking them to come back  Lapsed one time donors are different from multi-gift donors  Best communication channels is to use letter, then phone call  Lapsed donors cannot be ignored. They’re a potential source of needed funding and should be nurtured with communications

About the Author

Edward Phillips, MBA, is chief creative officer of IPM Advancement, a leading nonprofit fundraising company. Visit us at or call 623-687-3908 for more information about Nonprofit Fundraising.

How to Reactivate Lapsed Donors in Nonprofit Fundraising