Lapsed Donor Reactivation
Today we revisit a post directed at donor reactivation. Those who’ve already demonstrated support of your nonprofit’s mission, even if not lately, deserve your close attention.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When it comes to Lapsed Donors, I am a firm believer that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There are a multitude of very solid, tried-and-true strategies to help ensure that donors aren’t coming on board and heading right for the door: immediate and relevant expression of thanks, regular communication beyond just asking for donations, interactive media tailored to the donor, cause-involvement programs, and more.

By employing the best acquisition and retention practices, you greatly reduce the time and effort spent on re-acquiring the folks you’ve already spent precious resources to acquire the first time.

Nonetheless, despite the best efforts, there will still be lots of donors who lapse from your cause whom you’ll want to win back. When this happens, go back to hunter mode!

Know your donor
Too often we treat donors like they’re card-carrying member of the cause. The reality is that people give for lots of reasons: friends ask, impulse response to media, a windfall of funds, etc. For those who’ve stopped responding to your nonprofit, you need to examine their prior giving motivation. If they’ve given three gifts to feeding programs and ignored all other appeals, you’ll need to focus on this. Appeal-modeling and using services to find out what other causes these individuals have given to will provide these insights.

Where are they now?
This isn’t answered only by employing data hygiene methods like CASSTM (coding accuracy support system) and NCOA (national change of address), but by accessing enhanced demographics information for your donors. You need to know where are they in their life: has their income changed? Did they start a family or retire? Your donors’ lives and priorities change despite the cause’s needs. Having a strategy of enhancing each donor’s information on a regular basis will allow you to speak to them in a manner appropriate to their current life stage.

Relevant and timely appeals
Finally, when you have a good handle on the first two strategies, make sure that you are communicating to your lapsed (really all) donors with truly relevant and timely information. Too many times donors become disenfranchised by getting “tired” appeals and communications that are out of sync with the realities of the nonprofit and/or the mission’s current status. Remember we live in an information age, and any communication that is presented by your organization can be instantly researched for accuracy and relevance.

At the worst, you should view lapsed donors as pre-qualified prospects and at best, as partners and friends with whom you’ve merely temporarily lost touch.

Paul Noonan is the Managing Director of Data Services at Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. To learn more about successful strategies for reactivation and donor retention, contact us at Subscribe to our newsletter here. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.