Homeless youth

Homeless youth
People we don't see.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lapsed donors

A lot has been written about lapsed donors and how to continually keep an eye on how lapsed donors affect one's overall fundraising plan.

A plan around decreasing lapsed donors can be worked on throughout the year, not just towards the end of your fiscal year.

For me, it all starts with donor relationships. How does your organization treat donors? Are they just an ATM? Do they get thanked quickly? Do they know how you spent their donation? Do you try connecting with them other than when you ask them for a donation? Are they kept up to date regarding your mission and their part in it?

I think any fundraiser could add more questions. This is enough for the purpose of this blog post.

If my organization and our mission is frequently in front of the donor, then we have a better chance of keeping them as a donor. If we thank them quickly and let them know how we spent their money, our chances are even better at keeping them as a donor. 

Inevitably for some us, including me, we end up at the start of our year end campaign and haven't paid 100% attention to potential lapsed donors.

This is what I do:

I send out the year end appeal. The direct mail piece. It goes to everyone, including those who have not yet made a donation this year.

I create a list of any potential lapsed donors for the year and it goes on my office wall. As donations arrive, I call them to thank them and cross their name off.

A few weeks after that first direct mail piece went out, I bring in volunteers to call every donor who received the year end appeal, with focus on those who have not yet made a donation.

Come December, bring in as many folks to help as possible. Your ED, the board, co-workers. Make sure every donor has gotten a call. OK, if you have tens of thousands of donors you can't do this. But you can still make the effort.

This totally works. In my first year here we lowered the amount of lapsed donors by 60%!

Try it. And remember that the best way to maintain a donor is how you treat them, not just an end of year ask.

I would love your feedback and would also love to learn about what you do around lapsed donors!

Thanks for reading!