Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Why you should encourage lapsed donors to give again?

Recently, while conducting a Fundraising Fitness Test for a client I noted that ever year they were losing over 1,000 donors. And, this was a relatively small charity with less than 5,000 contacfs in their database. In other words, donors were coming in making a gift or two and then not giving again. The charity was doing some donor reactivation work but obviously not enough because the reactivation rates from year to year were less than 10%. 

Does this situation ring true for your charity also? Do you know how many donors your charity is losing every year? If you do, what are you doing to encourage lapsed donors to give again? 

Some Christian fundraisers are reluctant to remind a lapsed donors that they have not given in a while, others keep sending the same appeals to these donors that they send to everyone else and hope for the best. Whether you are following the first or the second strategy I mentioned here one thing is for sure that soon you will end up with very few donors and you will be forced to spend a great deal of money to find new ones. 

Why does donor reactivation matter? 

It matters because it is easier (and cheaper) to encourage a past donor to give again than to get a potential donor to make their first gift. 

What can you do about it? 

First of all set a definition of 'lapsed' donors for your cause - I recommend to most clients that a lapsed donor is a person, or a church or a corporation whose last gift to the charity was 12 months ago.  

Secondly, get to know your current lapsed donors by setting up and running a query in your database to identify donors who have not given to your cause in the last 12 months and have a look at their profiles, the amounts they gave, the types of projects the supported, their giving history. 

Thirdly, think about how you can remind this group of donors about their giving and the value of their support to your charity. You can deliver this reminder with care and love, in keeping with the character of your charity.

You might want to write them a letter or send them an email or when appropriate make a phone call to them. You can gently inquire about their life circumstances, challenges they might be facing. " 
Perhaps you have been facing some difficulties I’m not aware of...." 

Or, you can acknowledge how busy the donor is and how focused they might be in their priorities, "I know how easy it is to get busy with many things, family, children, work, church ..." And, you might even invite donors to share with you about any prayer needs they might have so your staff team can support them in prayer — regardless of whether the donor is able to give again or not. 

And, you can share some news about your charity and invite the donors to renew their support to your cause. Share impact stories with them, tell them that their contributions have been missed, thank them for their past support and show them what can be achieved by their future gifts. 

Fourthly, create two or three donor reactivation packages and test various copy concepts and strategies for communicating with lapsed donors. Once you have mailed or emailed the lapsed donors from the last 12 months you might want to go back a bit further and mail lapsed donors from 24 months ago or 48 months. However, a word of warning here, don't spend much time and money in trying to reactivate donors who gave to your cause 48 months ago - they might be supporting other causes now but if you want to keep these people around then invite them to sign up to your email communications or to join your facebook page. 

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