An Alluring Proposition
Try using an easy, inexpensive offer test to differentiate these donors. Two to consider: testing the ask-string amounts or asking for a single amount.
Some is better than none
It’s important to make an upgrade effort relatively soon after a donor has made an initial gift. This makes sense in your quest to maximize revenue, and it keeps the mid-level and major-gifts people happy.
But conversely, not many organizations ever allow lapsed mid-level and major donors to be mailed a lower-level renewal effort. If these individuals have stopped donating, organizations are better off renewing them with a smaller ask than garnering no donation at all, especially if you’re talking about mailing donors two to three years after their last donations.
The bottom line is a renewal series that upgrades on the first effort and downgrades on the last few efforts will do more to maximize your revenue and bring back lapsed donors than if you make no effort at all or stick to a higher-level ask and get no response.
When you’re thinking about renewing lapsed donors, it’s a good idea to take a look at what magazines are doing for lapsed subscribers. Magazines traditionally have sent what seems like a never-ending renewal series to subscribers and lapsed subscribers. Some magazines send more than 15 efforts. You probably have experienced this.
They have what’s called a renewal at birth, which is the same as asking for a gift in an acknowledgment. If you’re not doing this, you should be. They also have early renewals, which can come as soon as 10 months before the subscription expires; and attached renewals, which are polybagged or glued to a current subscription’s last issue or, in many cases, multiple issues (for example, a combination of the penultimate issue, the last issue and a free issue after the paid subscription actually has expired). You could test something similar with your donor newsletter.