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5 Reasons Why Donors Lapse and How to Prevent It

by | Mar 25, 2022 | Digital, Fundraising

A successful donor retention program is a crucial component of your overall fundraising strategy. Finding and acquiring new donors can be hard—and expensive.

With donor retention rates hovering about 45%, there is tremendous opportunity to reactivate lapsed donors, or even better, prevent them from lapsing in the first place.

Before you develop a plan, it is important to understand why donors lapse.

Donors had a change in their financial situation
This is the one area where you don’t have much control. People’s financial situations change, and they no longer give. Some percent of donors will lapse, and you cannot expect a perfect retention rate. However, this is a scenario where it might be helpful to test a smaller ask to see if that is more palatable to a lapsed donor. Many nonprofits have great success with small asks such as $1 a day.

Donors did not feel appreciated
Thanking your donors should always be the first step in your donor management process. Appreciation and gratitude are the foundation of donor retention. By saying “thank you,” you are telling your donors that their gifts matter … that they’re having a genuine impact.

Bonus tip: A well communicated thank you often results in additional gifts!

Donors didn’t know the impact that they were having
For a donor to feel emotionally connected to your nonprofit, they need to know that their monetary gifts make a difference. Some portion of most gifts surely covers mundane things like rent and utilities. But donors need to know that their giving is having an impact on real people. This is where you should harness the power of storytelling. Put names and faces to the people that you’re helping. Tell their stories.

Donors were offended by something you did
There are many small mistakes, real or perceived, that might seem like no big deal, but they can cause a donor to lapse. Maybe you got their name wrong on a direct mail letter. Maybe you asked for too large of a gift. Maybe you forgot to say thank you with an email, phone call or visit. These may all seem like small mistakes, but they can hurt your donor retention efforts and they’re all preventable. Pay attention to the details.

Donors found a cause that they believe to be “more worthy”
The nonprofit marketplace is extremely busy. There is always a new crisis to support or another issue that’s getting the spotlight. The best way to prevent losing your donor to another organization is to make sure that they are strongly connected to yours. Building strong donor relationships is the best retention strategy. Donors who are deeply connected to your organization, your team, the work that you do, and your beneficiaries are the most loyal.

Donor retention and reactivation can be a complicated process. If you are feeling overwhelmed, remember—you don’t have to do everything at once. Try implementing the changes that you think will have the biggest impact first. (Hint: say thank you if you aren’t already). Then evaluate your results and plan the next step. Small changes over time can add up to big results!

Let Infinity Concepts use our expertise to develop your donor acquisition and retention strategy!
CLICK HERE or call us today at 724-733-1200.

Kim Rugh