Lapsed Donors Probably Still Like You
nonprofit management tips

Reigniting the spark you once had with an old flame is an apt metaphor for lapsed donors. Chances are that they still care about you, but other things in life can easily get in the way of kindling a relationship. The first step to reactivating lapsed donors is changing the way you think about them.

The underlying assumption that active donors are committed and lapsed donors have changed their minds is more a product of our own attitudes than an understanding of peoples’ behavior. Roughly 30 percent to 40 percent of this year’s donors will not make a gift next year. For almost every nonprofit, lapsed reactivation offers better initial return on investment and more long-term value than new donor acquisition.

You can reactivate the greatest number of lapses through a program that combines basic RFMA (Recency, Frequency, Monetary, and Affinity) segmentation with third-party recency matching. Recency is the key driver in this technique, as nearly everyone who made a gift 13 to 24 months ago is a good reactivation prospect.

Co-operative transactional databases are one tool available today to find big pools of these long lapsed names, going back as far as 15 years. These databases allow you to discover which of your long lapsed donors are actively giving to other organizations.

Ensure lapsed donors who renew get placed in the same track as new donors to avoid letting them slip through the cracks again. Don’t spend valuable time thinking about why donors are lapsing; chase lapsed donors with a solid strategy and aggressive promotion. In the end, most of them still love you.