Sometimes, donors stop giving for a while and they fall through the cracks. Especially if you are a small nonprofit, it is easy to overlook lapsed donors and just focus on current and prospective donors. But good stewardship means maintaining and pursuing relationships- even with past donors that have not been engaged for a while. Reaching out and reconnecting with lapsed donors is important for building the rapport and credibility of your organization, and it may lead to even stronger relationships with these donors in the future.
Here are some tips for reconnecting with past donors:
Look At the Details
When was their last donation? How much was it? Is there a note from them why they stopped donating? You may not have a lot to go off of, and that’s okay. But check to see if you can come up with some possibilities of why they lapsed. And it always good to review the information that you have before you contact past or current donors.
Reach out to your lapsed donors in some form or fashion (hopefully you know their communication preference! If not, check out this blog on donor stewardship). Your worst case scenario is that they don’t answer. But you may gain insight into why they stopped donating (which can really help you in your current donor stewardship), and you may be able to start rebuilding the relationship.
Don’t expect them to start engaging with your organization immediately. That first call/email/etc. isn’t going to be magic. It might even be awkward. It is going to probably take some effort on your part to rebuild your relationship with them and re-engage them. But it all starts with reaching out. Make it personal, let them know that you sincerely care for their feedback and to hear how they are doing.
What to Say:
Let them know that you noticed that you haven’t heard from them for a while. Ask how they are doing and if there have been any major life changes. Ask them how they feel about your mission and if they had any concerns or issues with your organization or programs/services. Ask if they’d be interested in hearing about an update or receiving the newest annual report. Gently invite them back to your organization without making any large requests.
(P.S. We also recommend asking them if they have time to talk or could set up a different time to chat at the beginning of the conversation if it’s over the phone. People love considerate people!)
When They Are Done
And sometimes, donors are just not going to want to continue their relationship with your organization. Interests and passions change, life changes, and there are a lot of variables outside of your control.
If your donor avoids your calls or lets you know that they are not going to continue supporting your organization, be gracious. It is appropriate to ask them why, but don’t push any farther than that. Wish them the best and make sure that you adhere to all of their requests.
Why It’s Worth It
Even if they don’t donate ever again- it’s worth it to get in touch with your lapsed donors. As a steward of your organization, it is important to make sure that you are a good representative of your nonprofit and your mission. Taking the time to reach out to lapsed donors builds your credibility as an organization, shows your values, and is all around just a “good human” thing to do. We believe keeping good relations with people is important to the long term success and sustainability of any organization.