- Acquisition median cost per dollar raised has increased each of the last four years
- Total number of new donors acquired is down almost 18 percent in 2009 vs. 2008 (June to July)
- Biggest concern for nonprofits in the study was a decrease in new donors and converting these new donors into loyal donors
With all this in mind, increasing lapsed reactivation rates is critical, Terpstra said. So how do you do that? Terpstra laid out the typical treatment strategies he’s observed over the years when it comes to lapsed donors:
- Pre-lapsed donors are put in the regular donor-renewal stream.
- Lapsed donors may get fewer renewal mailings and not get any special messaging or packages.
- Long-lapsed donors may not get mailed at all by some organizations, and most fundraisers put certain long-lapsed donor segments into acquisition.
“You probably shouldn’t be doing typical treatment strategies,” Terpstra said, because they often don’t work. He then offered strategies that do work, suggesting fundraisers test ways to motivate lapsed donors to give again, looking at:
- Seasonality — history of giving once or twice a year in the same time frame? Then test again in that time frame.
- First appeal — what prospect appeal did they respond to in the first place? Send them a similar appeal to remind/reactivate them.
- Affinity — can you call them “members”? Do they like supporter cards or decals? Make them feel like part of a group.
- Premiums — testing name labels, note pads, tokens, etc., may increase response, especially if they have a history of responding to premiums.
- Community — do they interact with you in other ways, i.e., volunteer, attend special events, give memorial gifts? Reference these connections to your organization when you communicate with them.
- Urgency/emergency — special programs that need immediate help usually work; use deadlines.
- More personal contact — write handwritten notes to lapsed donors; send year-end thank-yous or holiday cards.
“There’s something you can do with all lapsed donors,” Terpstra said, telling the audience to ask these questions and consider the following ideas: