Warning: You’re Losing Money by Not Reactivating Donors

We all have our favorite charities, and our giving behavior is very personal.  We may give in response to a special need or call-to-action, or perhaps we feel motivated or compelled by an experience.  Regardless of the reason, we understand that it is important to give to support the missions of organizations we care about.

Knowing how much an organization depends on donor support, one might think donors should keep track of giving behavior to prevent themselves from lapsing.  But, donors don’t know they are lapsing or lapsed.  It is the organization’s job to motivate another gift to keep the donor current in their support.  Often times, however, the organization gives up once a donor lapses in an effort to manage their ROI.  This is where your losses begin.

I recently had a partner ask us to stop communicating with their donors who have not given within the last 25 months or more.  Understanding their short-term goal to reduce cost by eliminating lower-performing segments, I still advised against it.  You see, in the year prior, we reactivated 11% of their file from that segment.  Had those donors not been communicated with, they would have surely lapsed into their 37+ month file and then we would be challenged to refill that population with new donors.  Acquiring new donors is competitive and more expensive than reactivating donors who have already shown that they have an affinity for the organization.  Here are three things you can do to encourage a lapsing donor to renew their support and reduce your losses

Change your communication strategy

How many times have you communicated with this donor since their last gift?  Was it by email, mail, or phone … and what did you ask them to do or give?  Have you properly acknowledged their gifts?  Consider this and modify your approach.  Ask them to support an initiative that they have supported in the past.  Ask them for less money than you have been asking them for — just get them back on your active file.

Call the Donor

There is nothing wrong with calling a donor.  Even if you don’t want to ask for a gift, call to thank the donor.  Invite them for a tour, an event or to volunteer, just get them to reengage. Or, run a phone campaign with a telemarketing partner — these very effectively reactivate donors.

Provide the donor with a special opportunity

Let these donors know about all the great things the organization has accomplished with their past support.  Provide them with a vision for the future and an opportunity to take part in making this a reality.

Keeping your donors engaged and giving is the most important way to continue funding your programs.  What strategies have you used to successfully reactivate lapsed donors?

By: Denise Lynn Lavollay, CFRE