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How in the world do we nurture lapsed donors?

“How do we connect with lapsed donors?

“I’m too embarrassed to reach out to lapsed donors because we did a poor job staying connected.”

“What if they are giving to another organization now?”

We hear these sentiments from ministry leaders often. Chances are you may have said a version of these as well. Our response to these, and our approach to basically any donor care, is to relate everything back to friendships. Our donors are best friends of the ministry after all! Let’s say you moved away and lost touch with an old friend. Not for any other reason than life got busy. How would you reach out to them? Your text may read something like, “Hi friend, I really have missed you. Sorry it has taken me so long to reach out. Would love to catch up with you to hear how life is going.” Much like your reconnection with lapsed donors, treat them like an old friend that you have inadvertently lost touch with. Whether it’s through a specific lapsed donor campaign (we will touch on this in a minute) or personalized outreach, just do it. But before you press send, there are two important postures to hold. These are postures of humility and curiosity. Be humble Tell them you’ve missed them and want to do a better job of staying connected with them in the future. Donors appreciate it more when you honestly acknowledge what happened rather than pretending everything was perfect. It’s okay to apologize, just like you would do in any other relationship. Be curious Ask them questions. Get to know them. This is your chance to reconnect. You can ask questions like, “What inspired you to give in the first place?” “Are you still passionate about this work?” “How can we better engage with you?” They may be craving deeper engagement than just receiving email updates. They may have a skillset that could be valuable to your mission, but you would never know until you ask. Find out how to stimulate and invigorate your donor base with time, treasure, and talent. Now, let’s talk about a segmented lapsed donor nurture campaign. If you want to employ a nurture campaign, here’s a quick framework. This would be for folks whose last gift was 12-18 months ago. A campaign like this can really prioritize and focus your efforts rather than checking lapsed donor lists every month. You can add this to your communication calendar to conduct twice a year. For instance, you can push this in the spring with an ask (all days listed) and in the fall you can push this and stop before the ask (days 1-5).

Why the adjustment for fall?

We are getting into the time of year when we plan our year end campaign. Yes, it will be here before you know it! Shorten the schedule to what is listed for days 1-5. We suggest this to not make back to back asks that make your donors feel like ATMs.

In one week of communication, you have the possibility to bring people back into your work. This would be a perfect time for RECONNECTION before your ministry makes its biggest appeal of the year!

If you nurture your lapsed donors in this way, please email your stories to We would love to celebrate with you!

Go forward with humility and curiosity!

Speaking of the biggest appeal of the year…

Check out our Elevate Year End Package. We would be honored to help your ministry elevate your generosity!


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