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Donor Participation Project

Engaging Lukewarm and Lapsed Donors: An Opportunity, Not a Problem

Lukewarm and lapsed donors are often viewed as problems by nonprofits because they are not currently giving or have stopped giving. However, these donors represent major opportunities if re-engaged.

According to studies, lapsed donors have a 1 in 10 chance of making a repeat gift if contacted, and that number jumps to 1 in 2 if their past issues can be resolved.

Nonprofits should view lukewarm and lapsed donors as chances to reconnect, not as lost causes. The first step is reaching out for a conversation, not just sending them appeals.

Ask open-ended questions to start a dialogue, such as:

  • Why did you first become a supporter of our organization?
  • What is your favorite memory of involvement with us?
  • How could we improve your experience as a donor?

By listening to their responses with an open mind, you can gain insights into their interests and values. You may also discover issues you can remedy to bring them back to active support.

The next step is sharing the impact of their past gifts and current priorities or new initiatives they may find meaningful. For example, say: “Because of your support 5 years ago, we were able to start X program which has helped over 500 children. We now want to expand the program to reach even more youth in need. Would you consider renewing your support to help us achieve this goal?”

When possible, invite them to re-engage through a small, entry-level gift to start rebuilding the relationship. While the gift amount matters less than their participation, aim for a modest increase over their last donation to signify progress. With consistency and transparency, these donors can become your most loyal supporters once again.

Viewing lukewarm and lapsed donors as opportunities for re-engagement instead of lost causes is a mindset shift that can pay off significantly. By listening, sharing impact, resolving past issues, and inviting them back in through entry-level gifts, these donors may just become your next major supporters. The key is outreach done right – with authenticity, empathy, and care.

View the full recording of this session in our Resource Library.

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