How to Recapture Lapsed Donors Before It’s Too Late

End of year is a busy time in the fundraising world. In this short post we outline a simple tactic you can use to recapture lapsed donors. Although particularly useful at end of year, this tactic will work at any time of the fundraising year!

Well, that was quick, it’s already December 12th. Today we are going to focus on a pressing end of year topic, recapturing soon-to-be lapsed donors.

Your Twitter feed is most likely filled with blog posts, webinar promotions, and links to all sorts of “end of year” content. Hey, we even published an “end of year” metrics post last week. ‘Tis the season.

There are plenty of great resources out there to make your end of year fundraising extra special. But cutting through all the noise and focusing on the most important aspects of your fundraising operation during the last few weeks of the year is difficult.

One blog says, “focus on designing the best email template”, whereas another preaches the need to boost your social media presence after #GivingTuesday.

I’d like to approach this time of year with a more practical mindset. Let’s recapture soon-to-be lapsed donors, how about that?

I personally like to write long-form content — 1,000+ word articles that take at least 5 minutes to read. Not today. Time is of the essence, let’s get started.

Here are 3 easy steps you can take right now (seriously, 5-10 minutes) to identify, prioritize and recapture soon-to-be lapsed donors.

How to identify lapsed donors

“Zach, this sounds great, but we have no clue who our lapsed donors are. Plus, it’s December, why would we try to recapture lapsed donors now? They’ve had all year to make a contribution to our organization!”

I’m so glad you asked! Let’s make sure we are all on the same page. A lapsed donor is an individual who made a donation to your organization last year and did not renew in the next. That donor lapsed when they stopped giving.

And, you’re right, it is December, which means your donors have had the opportunity earlier this year to renew their contributions. That’s actually the beautiful thing about analyzing soon-to-be lapsed donors in December.

By identifying who is currently lapsed (as of today) we can analyze a smaller number of donor profiles to help prioritize who we reach out to (more on that soon).

So, with this in mind, how do we identify your lapsed donors?

Here is your super simple 3 step process for finding out who has yet to renew, no Excel pivot tables needed:

  1. Download a “donation history” report from your CRM
  2. Login to your Fundraising Report Card account and upload your file
  3. Click on the “lapsed” tab

There you go. Done. All the segments you see in the year 2016 are your soon-to-be lapsed donors. Again, these are people who made a donation to your organization last year, but have yet to do the same this year.

How to prioritize (soon-to-be) lapsed donors

Click on the bright yellow segment for the year 2016. These are your currently lapsed $5,000+ donors. Important folks, eh? Click on “export to csv” — that returns to you the donor id #’s of the individuals who make up that segment of your graph.

find lapsed donors

Take those 5, 10, 15, however many donor ID’s that are in the export and look those people up in your CRM.

Head back to your Fundraising Report Card and click on the dark blue segment for 2016 — the lapsed $1,000-$5,000 donors. Click export on that segment as well. Here is the next segment of donors that should require your attention.

At this point you should have found a few folks whom you know are planning on making a donation in the next few weeks. My hope is that you also found one or two or ten people who had slipped through the cracks. Major donors who had donated last year and aren’t planning on renewing this year are great individuals to chat with and definitely are worth your time to reach out to.

How to reactivate (soon to be) lapsed donors

I am not a fundraising expert. I build tools to help make fundraisers more efficient and data-driven.

There are a lot of folks out there who have brilliant ideas for how to recapture lapsed donors. Let’s defer to them on this last point:

Tying it all together

To bring everything to a close, here is a recap of how to recapture lapsed donors before it is too late:

  1. Identify your lapsed donors
  2. Prioritize who to engage with
    • Breakdown donor attrition by giving level
  3. Reactivate before it’s too late

Happy analyzing!

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Author: Zach Shefska

I oversee the Fundraising Report Card, a division of MarketSmart. The Report Card is a free tool that empowers fundraisers to make data-driven fundraising decisions. It’s pretty neat.

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