How to Raise More Money From Lapsed Donors

nonprofit fundraising

Let’s face it: keeping donors committed to your organization takes some extra time and effort. And, convincing a donor to re-engage after a lapse takes even more time and even more effort.

But trust me, giving up on your lapsed donors is a huge mistake. In fact, for most nonprofits, reactivating lapsed donors is vital to fundraising success.

Why is this the case?

Because of their past support, lapsed donors have already demonstrated an affinity for your organization’s cause, making many of them perfect candidates to give again. Even better, they often outperform the best prospect audiences.

Here are some factors we encourage our clients to consider when working to raise more money from lapsed donors:


1. Personalize Their Donor History

Be aware of how donors initially came onboard and re-engage them with this information in mind. By recapping to them the programs or services they initially supported, when they donated – and even why – it will be easier to reintroduce and reengage them.


2. Explore Predictive Analytics/Data Modeling

If you aren’t already doing it, look into data modeling and predictive analytics technology to zero in on those donors who have the best chance of ROI. By uncovering patterns and trends hiding within a wide range of data, these technology tools can help you easily identify lapsed donors who may be willing to give again, and perhaps give even more.


3. Conduct Data Hygiene Maintenance to Eliminate Inaccurate Records

Use the same rule of thumb with lapsed donor profiles as you do with active donor profiles. One of the most cost effective ways to do this is to model those donors after your active donors. By conducting routine data hygiene, you can avoid some awkward situations. For instance, some past donors could now be deceased, or moved to a different geographic location. Cleaning up your data files on a regular basis can eliminate these unwieldy situations.


4. Choose the Right Channels

Consider how your lapsed donors previously gave and how they engaged with your organization – was it by phone, via email, in the mail, at an event, etc.? Ensure that you reach out to them in a similar manner, as well as in additional channels. This strategy will remind them that you truly understand the way they best like to receive communications.


5. Illustrate Proof Points That You Are Working Toward Your Mission

Devise creative ways to provide lapsed donors with a new case for support. For example, “We haven’t heard from you since your last generous gift of $100 in May 2011. Since then, we have been able to do XYZ.” This is also a good opportunity to “call out” lapsed donors, perhaps via text on a mailing envelope in the form of, “We’ve missed you” or “We know why you haven’t given in awhile.” Your envelope and letter can refresh a donor’s memory as to when their last gift was received, and point out that time really does pass quickly.


6. A Strong Prospect Pool

Lapsed donors are a population of individuals who have already proven interest in your mission, as well as a willingness to support your cause. At the end of the day, they will always be easier to enlist than a prospect that has no previous connection with your nonprofit.



Winning back-lapsed donors is much more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. Since you’ve already developed relationships with these donors, you can forgo much of the initial stewardship process, which can, in turn, cut your costs dramatically. Use these steps to start re-engaging your lapsed donors today.


On average, new IPM clients see a 34.8% increase in direct mail fundraising acquisition response rates within the first year of working with us. Want to learn more?

Contact IPM