How to Win Back Lost Donors

Posted by Ayanna Rutherford on 30.6.2020

man jumping on the middle of the street during daytime

As more nonprofit organizations look for donations, one area to revisit is the lapsed donor group. Re-engaging lapsed donors is a great way to increase donations because they already have a connection to your organization. Here are some tips to win back your lapsed donors.

Define lapsed donors for your organization

Lapsed donors are defined as donors who have not given to your organization in a certain period which for some organizations is in the last 12 months. The timeline for determining if a donor has lapsed or not depends on your organization but you must create a period where you consider a donor lapsed.

Once you have determined a timeline for a lapsed donor, you need to determine why they stopped giving. There was something about your cause or organization that drove them to give so figuring out why they stopped giving will be an important factor in winning them back. There are several reasons why donors stop giving.

Communicate with your lapsed donors to understand why

One reason may be as simple as they changed their payment information and you no longer have the right credit card or bank number on file. Getting a donor like this to become active again can be rather easy. In this situation, it may be appropriate to see if they are interested in upgrading their giving.

Another reason is that their financial situation may have changed so they had to cancel giving. This is a time to have an alternative giving level available for them to give. For example, if they gave $25 monthly before their giving lapsed, offer them the opportunity to give $10 per month. Offering a lower amount helps the donor stay connected to your mission and it also helps your organization bring in some funding.

You may discover that you lost donors because there are areas of your organization and/or programming that needs to improve. This can be a tough pill to swallow but you may be losing donors because you have internal organizational challenges. If you get this type of feedback from a hand full of angry former donors, take it with a grain of salt.

People change interests and passions all of the time so a few donors that have left may not signal a problem. If you are finding that the feedback is consistent it is time to assess your organization and work to win back their trust.

Lapsed major donors require more work

When re-engaging a lapsed major donor, it is important to make it a high touch experience. The Executive Director and/or a Board Officer should reach out to this donor. Major donors take time to get to commit to giving so take time to work to get them back as a donor.

The first step is to listen and understand why they decided to stop giving and determine if the relationships are reparable. If it is, explain what you have in place that would encourage them to give or create a path that will get your organization where it needs to be to bring them back. As with small and mid-level donors, be mindful of a major donor providing you feedback that does not align with your organization’s mission or values.

Need more help re-engaging lapsed donors? Contact us.

Photo Credit: Andre Hunter

Topics: Nonprofit, Donor Relationships, Donor Retention, Recurring