When Should You Give Up on a Lapsed Monthly Donor?
And the answer is: NOT ANYTIME SOON!
A year or so ago, I joined 20 organizations with a monthly gift. And (sneaky me), I gave them a card that was going to expire a month later. I then tracked what organizations did in terms of “thank you” letters and actions to try to get me back.
In the next two months, only two organizations picked up the phone and called me! The rest sent me emails and left it at that. Some of those emails were as if a robot spit them out. One of those organizations is still sending me that same standard robot message now many months later!
There was no warm, fuzzy, messaging that they really missed me or that they really wanted me to pick up the phone and call them to provide my updated information. Just a few sent me a message with a direct link to a page to update my information online. Only a few sent me a letter and those letters looked more like their appeal letters than a personal note telling me that they really wanted me to continue my monthly donation.
I, of course, did not contact these organizations because I just wanted to see what they’d do.
Nine months later, I received a call from one of those organizations. The development associate apologized for not calling me sooner. She was new to the organization. She thanked me for my monthly donations and wanted to ask if I’d be willing to give her my updated information. She was so personable and appreciative that the decision to give her that updated card number and expiration date was not a very hard one. She got me back.
The morale of the story: Do not give up on a lapsed monthly donor. But do vary the channels you use. If email doesn’t work, send a letter and, better yet, a phone call. And look back to the monthly donors you’ve lost and try it again a while later.
Over the years, I’ve worked on numerous phone campaigns to reactivate lapsed monthly donors with reactivation rates typically ranging between 15 percent and 25 percent. If a donor lets their card lapse because they can’t afford the current level of giving, you can negotiate a lower monthly amount.
So, unless the monthly donor tells you that they do not wish to continue and have a very specific reason or if the donor passes away, you can go back to your lapsed monthly donors to get their updated information. I challenge you to look at your monthly donor program and add in a campaign to reactivate those lapsed monthly donors. What do you have to lose?
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.