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Two Ways to Entice Lapsed Donors With Your Letters


Now that the busy holiday giving season, as well as end of the year tax letters are completed, it’s time to look at ways to bring donors back who perhaps missed out on giving during the past year (or longer). Even if your organization doesn’t consider a donor lapsed until they haven’t given for a much longer time frame than 12 months, it doesn’t hurt to put some enticements into your letters to bring these donors back.

Once you’ve identified your lapsed donors, it’s time to contact them. A primary reason why organizations may not reach out to lapsed donors is an uncertainty about what to say. There are two things that you can do to help entice these donors to return to your organization.

  1. Tell them that you miss them.

We all want to feel important. Donors lapse due to many reasons, and most of them have nothing to do with your organization. Life changes and financial decisions happen. Sometimes all it takes is simply seeing your organization’s name to remind them to donate again. You can provide a bit more incentive by letting them know that you miss them.

Dear Mr. Smith,

We haven’t heard from you in a while and we miss you. Did you know that we (fill in the good things your organization has done) and we want you to be a part of that effort.

Telling a donor you miss them creates a personal touch and invites them to get back in touch with you.

  1. Make it easy to return.

Having multiple ways to return, and even something as simple as paying the postage for the donor to return the gift will make it easy for the donor to reply. It may not seem difficult to find a stamp, but since postage has just gone up and so many people do business online, that little 55 cent item might be what stands between your lapsed donor returning or not bothering.

If you don’t provide postage paid envelopes, and I understand why you may not want to do so, then have a way online for someone to give without mailing a check. Sometimes even the act of writing check (going to the room where the checkbook is left, remembering where you left the checkbook, etc.) might be a barrier. So if they could log on to your website and donate online, that makes it that much easier for them.

An organization might even send out something that says “what can we do to bring you back?” and then offer options like a phone call or a special benefit.

Of course, it’s up to you and your organization what steps you want to go through in order to reactivate lapsed donors. However these two suggestions--make it easy and acknowledge that you miss them—will helpfully create the personal connection that turns anyone from prospect to donor.

If you'd like more help using FundRaiser to identify and contact lapsed donors, we welcome you to contact FundRaiser Technical Support at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 800-543-4131 or register for one of our live training webinars, on such topics as Groupings, Word Processor, and Reports, all of which include aspects related to lapsed donors. 

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