Lapsed Donor ReactivationWhen 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 & true strategies to help ensure that donors aren’t coming on board and heading right for the door: immediate and relevant thanking of donations, 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 spend precious resources on acquiring the first time.

None-the-less, despite our best efforts, there will still be lots of donors who lapse from your cause that you’ll what to get back.  When this happens, go back to hunter mode!

Know your donor – Too often we treat each donor like he or she is a card-carrying member of the cause.  The reality is that people give for lots of reasons: friends ask, impulse to media, or a windfall of funds.  For the lapsed group in your cause, 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 – By this I don’t just mean data hygiene like CASS and NCOA; I mean also getting enhanced demographics information for your donors.  You need to know where are they in their life: has their income change?  Did they start a family or retire?  Your donor’s lives and priorities change despite the causes needs.  Having a strategy of enhancing your donor’s information on a regular basis will allow you to appropriately speak to them at the stage of life they are in.

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 organization and/or the current situation.  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 you’ve lost touch with!

Paul Noonan is the Managing Director, Data Services at Innovairre, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. To learn more about successful donor retention strategies or Innovairre, contact us at