You may be missing the best opportunity for donor acquisition right in your own donor file.

Lapsed donors are one of the best sources for boosting your income. Lapsed donors are those who haven’t given in a period of time, most organizations consider a donor lapsed after 12+ months. A lapsed donor once gave to your organization, so he has both familiarity with you and also overcome the hurdle to give you a gift. 

For some reason, he stopped giving. Let’s explore how you can get him to start giving again.

Create Specific Campaigns for Lapsed Donors

Lapsed donors are different than other donors. These are donors who have already demonstrated an interest in your organization and many might not even know they are lapsed. Whatever the reason is for their lapsed giving, appealing to these donors is crucial for your ongoing fundraising success. Additionally, the cost of acquisition for a lapsed donor is much lower than a new donor. The best way to reach out to lapsed donors to rebuild a relationship is to have a plan. 

Reach them through their preferred channel. One of the best advantages of utilizing your lapsed donor file, is that you already have important information, such as contact info and giving history. Do your research to find out what channel your lapsed donor preferred in the past, whether it was through email, phone, or direct mail. 

Follow this model to appeal to lapsed donors:

  1. Thank the donor.
  2. Show them the great work you do with beneficiaries.
  3. Explain the impact their donation made.
  4. Be direct with your ask.

Want a more in-depth look at these steps? Read this post about reactivating lapsed donors

Show Them Some Love

Donors want a relationship, they don’t want to be an ATM machine. When approaching lapsed donors, be sure to remind them that their support and compassion are missed — not just their financial gifts. Let them know how important their support was in making a difference. Use personalized language, so they don’t feel that are on the receiving end of mass marketing.  

You need to invest more in the donor and provide them more value. Fill them in on the great work your organization is doing. Let them know that their past support has made work like this possible. Give them specific examples and share stories of impact. Let them know their financial support and partnership is crucial to your organization’s cause. 

What does that look like in practice?

Make Sure Your Ask Matches Their Desired Areas of Support

Donors often have a preference for what they give to. Most likely, your lapsed donor gave in the past because they felt called to make a difference or improve a situation. Again, utilize your donor file to look up their giving history and find out what they gave toward. Remind them of this original area of support. Regardless of the reason they stopped giving, most likely, your donor still cares about this particular cause.

Model Your Donor List to See the Most Likely Candidates to Give Again

Not every donor will give again.

Use the powerful data modeling tools to predict which donors will give again. Using these tools will help you optimize your fundraising campaigns to target your donor’s preferences. For example, how large was their previous gift? What was the open rate for emails you sent to them? Which causes did they gravitate toward? Did they attend events or advocate for your organization online? These answers will go a long way in helping you understand the value of your lapsed donor.

Keep Investing in the Relationship

Don’t give up just because a lapsed donor doesn’t give to the first appeal you send them. While some donors might not ever give again, there are a few things you can do before throwing in the towel.

  • Send a survey to find out why they stopped giving or ask what your organization could have done better.
  • Invest in an NCOA (National Change of Address) to find out if the reason you haven’t heard back is simply — your donor moved to a different address.
  • Invite them to join the cause of your organization again, even if it’s not financially. Give them alternate options of getting involved, such as attending an event, volunteering, or sharing about your organization on social media.

In other words, continue striving to build a relationship by gently (and sometimes indirectly) stewarding your lapsed donors to give again.