Donor Programs

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Missing in Action: Reconnecting with Lapsed Donors

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Donor Programs

Have you ever felt a pang of awkwardness when reaching out to a donor after a long silence? You're not alone. But what if I told you a simple "hello" could have a bigger impact than you think?

A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology explored the power of casual check-ins. Researchers found that even brief interactions – a phone call, a quick email, a thoughtful text – can significantly strengthen connections.

This might seem counterintuitive, especially with donors you haven't spoken to in a while. But the study revealed an interesting twist: the more unexpected the outreach, the greater the positive impact. So, that donor you haven't heard from in years? They might be pleasantly surprised to hear from you!

Why does this work? Remember, humans are social creatures who crave connection. Peggy Liu, the study's lead author, points out that initiating contact, even after a gap, can feel daunting because we worry about how it will be received. But the research suggests our fears are often unfounded. In most cases, people appreciate being remembered and reached out to.

So, how can you apply this to your donor relationships? Here are a few tips:

  • Personalize your message: Go beyond a generic template. Mention something specific about their past support or interests.
  • Keep it brief and informal: A quick email or text expressing your appreciation and curiosity about their well-being is enough.
  • Focus on connection, not just fundraising: While you can mention your organization's current initiatives, prioritize rekindling the relationship.

By reaching out with genuine warmth and interest, you can remind your donors why they connected with your cause in the first place. And who knows, they might just surprise you with their renewed engagement!

Remember, every donor is worth the effort. Don't be afraid to break the silence and build bridges of understanding. You might just discover that a simple connection can pave the way for future support and lasting relationships.

Recurring Giving: Your Secret Weapon for Sustainable Fundraising

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Donor Programs

Ever dream of a steady stream of donations flowing effortlessly into your organization? That's the magic of recurring giving, where supporters choose ongoing contributions instead of one-time gifts. Think of it as a monthly giving program that fuels your mission with reliable, predictable income.

Why It's a Win-Win for Nonprofits:

  • Predictable income: Say goodbye to rollercoaster fundraising! Recurring donations provide a stable financial foundation, allowing you to plan and budget with confidence.
  • Reduced workload: No more chasing down individual donations. Your team can focus on what truly matters: carrying out your mission and engaging supporters.
  • Deeper donor relationships: Recurring donors are your champions, passionate about your cause. Regular communication fosters loyalty and strengthens your community.

Boosting Fundraising with Recurring Giving:

  • Effortless giving: Donors love the convenience. They set it up once and forget it, knowing their impact continues.
  • Increased giving potential: Smaller, regular contributions add up quickly, often exceeding one-time gifts in the long run.
  • Reduced acquisition costs: Retaining existing donors is far cheaper than attracting new ones. Recurring giving keeps your best supporters engaged and invested.

Why Recurring Donors are Your Rockstars:

  • Rock-solid loyalty: Studies show 75% of recurring donors stick with their plans for at least six months, many for years.
  • Double the generosity: Recurring donors are 75% more likely to make additional one-time gifts within a year.
  • Bigger impact: On average, one-time donations from recurring donors are higher, amplifying their overall support.

Building Your Monthly Giving Program:

  1. Get tech-savvy: Ensure your donor management system accepts, tracks, and reports recurring donations seamlessly.
  2. Make it easy: Prominently display the recurring donation option on your website and donation forms.
  3. Automate communication: Send monthly receipts and keep donors informed with targeted updates.
  4. Segment your supporters: Tailor your communication to resonate with your recurring donor base.
  5. Prioritize user experience: Allow donors to update payment information easily and effortlessly.

Tying The Ask To Your Mission:

This is important enough to call out separately. Don't just beg for money. Make your appeal about your mission. Craft compelling messages that showcase the impact recurring donations have on real lives. Show, don't tell. Share stories of the people your organization helps, the challenges you overcome, and the brighter future you're building – all thanks to the steady support of your monthly donors.

Inviting Supporters to Join the Program:

Once you've branded your program and honed your mission-driven appeals, you can create powerful tools:

  • Branded social media assets: Eye-catching graphics and videos that tell your story and explain the program's benefits.
  • Email templates: Personalized messages that resonate with different donor segments, highlighting the impact their monthly gift can make.
  • Website landing page: A clear and concise explanation of the program, with easy signup options and FAQs.

Finding Your Monthly Champions:

Start by looking within your existing donor base:

  • Lapsed donors: Could they give smaller, regular amounts instead of one large gift?
  • Gradually increasing donors: Perhaps they're ready for a monthly commitment.
  • Periodic donors: They already give multiple times a year. Make it easier for them!
  • Engaged volunteers and supporters: They're passionate – invite them to join the giving circle!

Promoting Your Program:

  • Targeted email campaigns: Segment your database and send personalized invitations.
  • Website call to action: Add a prominent "Join Our Monthly Giving Program" button.
  • Social media spotlights: Share inspiring stories of your recurring donors and their impact.
  • Post-donation ask: Don't be shy! After a one-time gift, offer the option to join the program.

Connecting and Thanking Your Donors:

  • Monthly email receipts: Keep them informed and engaged with regular updates.
  • Impact stories and photos: Show them the real-world difference their gifts make.
  • Personalized thank-you notes: A handwritten message goes a long way.

Managing and Growing Your Program:

  • Track key metrics: Monitor growth, donor retention, and campaign effectiveness.
  • Run regular reports: Identify trends and areas for improvement.
  • Test and adapt: Experiment with different messaging and outreach strategies.
  • Celebrate successes: Recognize and reward your monthly giving heroes!

Remember, a successful recurring giving program isn't a set-it-and-forget-it affair. It's a continuous cycle of nurturing relationships, showcasing impact, and making it easy for your most passionate supporters to fuel your mission one month at a time.

Also, recurring giving isn't just a fundraising tactic; it's a powerful relationship builder. By nurturing your recurring donors, you'll unlock a sustainable source of funding and cultivate a community of passionate supporters who fuel your mission for years to come. So, unlock the transformative potential of recurring giving and propel your mission forward!

Reconnecting with Lapsed Donors

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Donor Programs

As a nonprofit fundraiser and leader, when you review your donor database management system throughout the year, you may come across the absence of donors who have supported your cause in the past. While many lapsed donors have drifted away for reasons beyond your control, it's crucial to recognize that some of them can be re-engaged, and these supporters are well worth your attention.


Reconnecting with lapsed donors is not only easier but also more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Lapsed donors are not "cold" prospects. They are already familiar with your cause and organization, and you don't need to convince them of your legitimacy.

These individuals have supported your mission before, and it's highly likely that they still share a commitment to your cause. Furthermore, lapsed donors offer valuable insights into why donors lapse and at which stage in your year or donor cultivation cycle it occurred.

While some may have lapsed due to factors beyond your control, others might have lost interest because of infrequent communication, excessive solicitations, or a lack of recognition for their contributions. Gathering this feedback can significantly improve your donor retention strategies in the future.



Consider in-person meetings, such as coffee dates, especially for VIP or major donors with whom you've had a personal connection.

Utilize phone calls and face-to-face Zoom sessions as efficient alternatives to update lapsed donors on your recent achievements.

At the very least, express your gratitude with a handwritten note, thanking them for their past support and expressing your hope for future engagement.


Segment your email list to target lapsed supporters who haven't engaged recently.

Seek their input and preferences regarding the content they'd like to receive from you and implement their feedback.

Personalize all communications by addressing donors by their name in the greeting and strategically throughout the email. Avoid generic salutations like "Dear Friend.”


Keep track of the last donation date for lapsed donors.

Send a letter or email expressing gratitude for their past contributions and highlight the impact their donations had on your organization's accomplishments since their last gift.


Create a comprehensive strategy for re-engaging lapsed donors, just as you would for your active donors.

Make a genuine effort to understand their preferences and interests in your organization.

Even if they can no longer donate, consider how they can continue supporting your cause through volunteering, providing feedback, or promoting your nonprofit to their social circles.


In the realm of nonprofit development, it's fundamentally about connecting with those who support your organization's work. Think of lapsed donors as old friends who may have gone without communication for a while. The relationship remains open, and with the right approach, you can rekindle their support for your cause.

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