Kari Trent Stageberg, MBA and Jackie Smith will equip you with easy, practical, and actionable steps to help you win back your lapsed donors, including learning how to identify, qualify, and communicate with them.
Steven: All right. Kari, Jackie, it’s 1:00 Eastern. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started officially?
Jackie: Let’s do it.
Kari: Yeah, let’s do it.
Steven: All right. Awesome. Well, good afternoon, everybody. Good morning, I should say, if you’re on the West Coast. And if you’re watching this as a recording, I hope you’re having a good day no matter when and where you are. We are here to talk about how to win back your lapsed donors. That’s right. One of my favorite topics. I’m so excited. And I’m excited that so many people are here listening live. And if you’re watching the recording, thanks for tuning in as well. I’m Steven. I’m over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion, as always.
And just a couple of quick housekeeping items. Just want to let you all know that we are recording this session, and we’ll be sending out the slides as well as the recording later on this afternoon, probably get it before dinnertime. So just be on the lookout for that. It’ll be in an email from me. So if you have to leave early or maybe get interrupted by a toddler at home, like, will probably happen to me, that’s why I’m talking fast, don’t worry. We’ll get all that good stuff in your hands, and you’ll be able to share it with friends and colleagues as well.
Most importantly, I know a lot of you have already done this, but please feel free to chat in your questions and comments. There’s a chat box and a Q&A box. You can use either of those, but we would love to hear from you. Don’t be shy. We’re going to save some time at the end for Q&A. We would love to hear from you. Introduce yourself if you haven’t already because we also like to know a little bit more about who we’re talking to. And give us the weather report, because I always like to see that, because I’m a dork. You can also tweet us. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed as well. But bottom line, we’d love to hear from you.
And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, just want to say a special welcome to you, first-timers. We do these webinars just about every Thursday throughout the year. It’s usually around 50 sessions a year. We love doing it. But if you’ve never heard of Bloomerang beyond the webinars, we’re also a provider of donor management software. That’s what Bloomerang is. So if you’re shopping for software or maybe you’re in the market or just curious about us, visit our website. There’s all kinds of resources you can take a look at, watch videos to get a sense of what we’re all about. But don’t do that right now. At least wait an hour, because you all are in for a treat. I am so excited not just about the topic but about the guests. Two of my favorite people, Kari and Jackie, are joining us from the Nonprofit Consulting Shop. Kari, Jackie, how’s it going? Are you doing okay?
Jackie: We’re doing good.
Kari: We’re good. We’re excited.
Steven: Yeah, I’m super excited. I wish we had more than an hour. I would have scheduled it for 8 hours if I could, because these two, I’ve really been learning quite a bit from over the past year or so. We got connected last year. They’ve been contributing to our blog, writing about donor acquisition, experts on both sides. So there’s actually an eBook they wrote on donor acquisition. But today, they’re going to be talking about how to get those lapsed donors back into the fold, which, of course, we’re all about here at Bloomerang. If you don’t know these two, like I said, Nonprofit Consulting Shop. Check them out. They do really, really good work for their clients, and they’ve also got a ton of free resources. They’re really generous with their time and expertise as well. Combined decades of experience. Jackie is down in Florida, and Kari is up in Seattle. So they got the whole nation covered, which is also cool.
So I’m going to pipe down because people don’t want to hear from me. They want to hear from you two. So I’m going to stop sharing my screen, and I’ll let you two bring up those slides. See if this works here. Here it goes.
Jackie: All right, we can move this, play from start. All right. Everybody’s good. We can start.
Steven: Yeah, good. Go for it, my friends.
Kari: All right.
Jackie: Kari, kick us off.
Kari: Great. Well, we are so excited that you all are here. And we are going to do our best to leave as much time as possible for questions because we really want this to be as specific as we can to you. So we’re going to talk today about how can you win back those lapsed donors. And again, you know, Steven did a fantastic and overly generous job of introducing us. But if you haven’t been on a webinar with us before, I’m Kari. This is Jackie. And, Jackie, I’ll let you introduce yourself.
Jackie: All right. So my background, just to tell you a little bit about my background, I am one of the co-founders of the Nonprofit Consulting Shop. Before Kari and I formed our company, which was back in 2016, I’ve spent my entire career working at ad agencies. I started out as a media buyer, traditional media buyer, back in the day, radio, television. I worked on accounts like General Motors. So I learned pretty early on, you know, when I was trying to reach a Chevy truck buyer, that perhaps that audience was a little different than the Chevy car audience. So over the years, I continued to really develop that audience expertise. And really, you know, you guys have all heard, you know, sending the right message to the right people at the right time. My area of expertise was always which are the right people.
When I left the brand side and went over to direct response, I started working for an agency that worked with nonprofits, and then my area of expertise was in new donor acquisition. Again, it’s about that audience, especially for new donor acquisition when you don’t have a lot of internal data points on those people, and how can you look at people as a group and try to determine how they’re going to respond. I met Kari working at an agency. We were assigned to the same account. We were actually both hired specifically for an account, but I’ll let her take it from here.
Kari: Yeah. So I’m Kari, and my background is kind of a little bit different than Jackie’s, where I’m more of the communication side, so holistically, how do you communicate with your donors, and what is that specific offer or message, and which channels do you need to use to reach those people. So together, Jackie and I make a great team in terms of who’s your audience and then what’s the best way and the best offer to communicate with them. And like Jackie said, we met because we were both hired to work on an account that the agency was losing, and our job was to turn it around or they were going to lose us and the client. Thankfully, that went really well, and the best thing that came out of that was a great friendship together and then, ultimately, the Nonprofit Consulting Shop.
In addition to the Nonprofit Consulting Shop, I also run a small nonprofit with my dad. So I’m also in the weeds with you guys in terms of how are we actually executing this, what are seeing happen with donors in real-time. So this is a huge passion point for me to help nonprofits. So again, we’re the Nonprofit Consulting Shop. You can find out more in our website, so we’ll just breeze over that. But really our goal is to help you connect with your donors in the best way possible and to not allow costs to be a barrier based on the size of nonprofit.
So with that, let’s jump into today’s agenda, because really we want to focus on how do you win back those lapsed donors. Well, we’re going to talk about a couple of three key areas on how we’re going to do that. So the first is we’re going to help you identify who your lapsed donors are. Then we’re going to help you qualify those people. Next, we’re going to give you really clear communication tips on how to actually tell them that you want them back and to get them onboard. And then we’re going to help you create a plan to do that. So you’ll be able to walk out of this with some action steps we hope that you can just go ahead and implement in your organization. And we’ll also try to do our best to leave as much time as humanly possible for Q&A. So with that said, let’s go ahead and jump in.
So we’re going to start with identifying the lapse. So, Jackie, sorry, I’ll do this and then hand this over to you. Really we want you to think of this funnel, and we’re going to use this all the way through, because each step, as you can see, whether it’s identify, qualify, or communicate, we’re going to get more and more specific and more and more narrow with who your audience is and how to reach them. So again, kind of keep that in mind. As we’re going through this, keep that funnel in your head.
Jackie: Right. So we’re going to start out by looking at how do you identify your lapsed donors. And again, using the funnel, right, we’re going to pour everybody in, and then, throughout this process, hopefully, you’ll be able to narrow that down to the select that you choose to go after first to try to win back.
So when we look at all of your lapsed donors, the first thing you’re going to look at is when did they give last, right? So their last gift could have been, you know, last year, but unfortunately, not this year, right? That could be 12 months, that could be 2 years at 24, 3 years at 36, etc., right? So that’s going to be the very first way to identify them in your database is to look at when was their last gift.
Kari: And again, at this point in the funnel, you want all of them. And we’ll help you get more narrow, but find all of them.
Jackie: Okay. So we’re going to just talk about this briefly, and then we’re probably not going to circle back to this. Okay? There are so many reasons as to why someone might have stopped giving. And we might not ever know any of them. Okay? And so, so many times when we talk to a nonprofit, they get very stuck on this part, why did they stop giving? And you’ve heard that expression, it’s not . . . I almost did it again wrong, Kari. I always say this, “It’s not me. It’s you.” Supposed to be, “It’s not you. It’s me.” Most of the time . . .
Kari: Jackie clearly never said this when she was dating, so.
Jackie: Well, I said that to Kari when she was dating. But more than likely, it wasn’t you. There’s only a handful of reasons I can think of. Is there something you might have done that made your donors stop giving, right? So let’s just talk about those really quickly. One, you might have accidentally treated them like an ATM. Now, Kari, you want to tell them about your rule?
Kari: Yes. So anytime you’ll ask, you need to at least thank them more than once, like, at least twice. So double it. So ask, double it. So that would be a wide touch, a repeat-back, a “Here’s what your gift did. Here’s a thank you.” But you really need to have a good balance of asking and reporting back. And if that’s out of balance, that could be a reason why somebody may stop giving because they just feel like, “All you’re doing is asking me for money, and I’m not seeing the impact of my gift.”
Jackie: Right. But more than likely, you’re doing fine with that, right? And the other reason is you might have stopped communicating with someone. This could have been an intentional thing. You were looking at some sort of return on investment selection tool or something before you put an appeal to those donors in the mail. So you might have just said, “No, here’s our line, and anybody below the line isn’t getting an appeal because we can’t afford it,” or whatever. So then those people could have lapsed.
The other reason that sometimes when you think you’re communicating with someone but you’re not is because people move, and sometimes your mail file or your contact file might not be super up to date. And that can make someone stop giving. And so if you have postal addresses, you know, the post office recommends that you NCOA your file quarterly. NCOA only does a three-month lookback. So if you only do NCOA on your file one time a year, you could be missing nine months of moves. Okay. Now, those are two of the three [inaudible 00:11:42]. Yes.
Then there’s all of the donor’s reasons, which are many, right? More than likely, though, if a donor stopped giving, there’s been some sort of change in their life. There’s been some sort of change, right, whether it’s a life status change, a job change, maybe they moved, right, and they’re not in your city anymore, and they’re not as passionate about what’s happening in your town, or . . .
Kari: It could even be something as simple as a credit card changed, and they didn’t update.
Jackie: Exactly. So really and truly, we’re not going to spend a ton of time about the why. We’re going to really spend our time today about what do you do. How do you identify them, qualify them, and then communicate with them? But the biggest thing, one of the biggest takeaways here is people probably still think they’re a donor even if you consider them a lapsed. Lapsed donors is an industry term that you use and we use, but the average person walking on the street doesn’t go up to somebody and say, “Hey, I’m a lapsed donor of American Cancer Society,” right? People just don’t think of themselves that way. They’re, like, “Oh, yeah, I’m a donor for American Cancer,” even if they know, like, “No, I can’t remember when I gave my last gift.” It’s, like, they don’t think of themselves as lapsed. So you’re going to hear us continue to talk about that, especially when we get into how to communicate with them.
Kari: Yep. Absolutely. So let’s talk about qualifying those people, because again, we’ve started with the top of the funnel, which is we’re pouring everyone in, but let’s get really specific about how can we start narrowing them down. And why we want to narrow is we realized that, unless you’re a unicorn, the rest of us have limited time, budget, and resources. So we want to help you pick the lowest-hanging fruit, the easiest thing that you can go after right away to get some wins so that, hopefully, your budget can grow, and you can go after some of those other things. So that’s, again, why we kind of want to help narrow the funnel.
Jackie: Now, what we’re going to cover is best-case scenario. Okay. We understand you might not have all of these data points. That’s okay. Use what you have. We’re going to show you the most important. But don’t get overwhelmed here if we start going through all of these things that you should be looking at and you don’t have those. We get it. Okay. We get it.
Kari: But the good news is, if you are using Bloomerang, you will have a lot of these, or if you’re not, you can start tagging things so that you can. So that’s the great side of it as well. So the first thing that you want to do when you’re qualifying is determine who you want to target. So to do that, which is actually the whole point of qualifying is the who, so we’re going to go through these things. I’m going to just list them out really quick. And then we’re going to go through these things specifically. So we’re going to look at recency, we’re going to look at monetary, we’re going to look at seasonality, we’re going to look at the offer, and we’re going to look at their preferred communication channel. And as you’ll notice, again, each step that we go down, the funnel is going to get more and more narrow and more and more specific to help you come up with who is that specific audience group that we can go target as soon as possible and the most cost-effective way possible and have the greatest win. Makes sense?
Kari: Cool. So let’s look at recency. So one thing that you absolutely need to look at is, just like it sounds, when did they last give? So hopefully, you have that information or have some idea of that information. Because you need to know, was it 12 to 23 months ago, were they in the one- to two-year range, were they in a 24- to 35-month, were they 36 months out, or are they 49+? Because this matters. So the more recently they gave to you, so that 12 to 23 spot or even that 24, kind of within that 24-month range, they are the most likely to come back the quickest. And again, that could be something as simple as maybe they got busy at year-end, or they weren’t home this year, and so they didn’t give you the gift that they normally would have, or their credit card expired and they were a monthly giver, or something just got crazy this last year and so they didn’t give what they normally would have. So they’re your hottest targets.
And so, if you’re going to start anywhere and if your budget and your time is really short, we really recommend starting with those people because they’re going to be the easiest to get back. But again, what we hope is that this plan that you create is something that you can rinse and repeat throughout all of these different target levels and that you can begin to include more and more of them as you go through and as you get those wins and those donors back on your file. So again, the higher up they are in this, the easier that it’s going to be and the lower hanging the fruit is to get them back.
Jackie: You can absolutely reactivate people who are 5, 10 years. I used to have to do it. Lapsed donor reactivation was part of acquisition at most of the agencies where I worked. That does usually take a little bit more money in order to find those people, but it is possible. It’s all possible. But again, at the end of this presentation, we’re hoping we’re giving you a couple of steps of where do you start. You start with the 12 to 23, possibly the 24 to 35 or 36 months, depending on how you see that natural break in your own data. Okay.
The next thing we’re going to look at is the money. How much money has someone given to the organization? Now, a lot of analysts believe that, you know, and this is true, the more money somebody gives to your organization, the more invested they are in it, right? If I give $500 and Kari gives $20, I’m a little more invested, right? I’ve got a little more skin in the game, right? So you do want to look at monetary.
Now, here’s . . . so if you talk to analysts and you talk statisticians and things like that, there’s this huge debate. I can’t tell you how many, I was going to say arguments, conversations that we had at the agency about which was the right monetary amount to go after. Do you look at someone’s cumulative giving, how much they have given over the lifetime of being involved with your organization, or do you look at their last gifts, their last single highest gift, or, yeah, their most recent highest contribution, whichever, however you want to call it? Our recommendation, if you have the data, is to do both, right? Look at lifetime giving, but then just give it a glance and look and see if you see any patterns in the year-over-year single gifts. Because that might tell you, again, if I have to pick one person over another to target, who am I going to pick, right?
Kari: We’ve got an example of this, because I know that some of you are going, “Well, that sounds confusing.” But let’s show you how this looks practically.
Jackie: Okay. So we had donors . . .
Kari: So we’ve got three sample donors. I’ll let jump in, sorry. I get excited about examples.
Jackie: You can jump in. So we have Donor A. Their lifetime giving amount is $240. You might be, like, “Oh, you know, that’s okay.” They’ve been a monthly donor. They’ve given single gifts, $20 a month, so $240 they gave for a year, right? And then they haven’t given in 16 months. Now, this could very well be a case of an expired credit card or a credit card change, or something, and it just didn’t get updated. They got your notice, and then they forgot, or whatever. So Donor A, right?
Then we’ve got Donor B. Lifetime giving amount is more. So if this was all you were looking at, you may pick Donor B over Donor A just based on the lifetime amount. But why we think it’s important to look at those single gifts year-over-year is, in our example, you can see that Donor B has trended down in their gift amounts, from a highest amount of $120 all the way down to 2019 they only gave $20. Their interest in the organization may be waning, as shown in their gifts. Donors are telling you what’s important to them and how you’re doing based on how they give. That’s your clue as to how people are doing. And let’s say this person hasn’t given in 26 months. Now, if you said, “I only have the money, time, and resource to go after one of these two people, who do I go after?” I’m going to go to . . .
Kari: Who would you pick? I want to know what everyone would pick. Given what we said, drop in the chat, who would you pick, Donor A or Donor B? Yeah, I see a lot of As.
Jackie: Yeah. That’s what I would do. If I had the money, I’d do them both, because I think we could probably fix what’s going on wrong with Donor B. But again, at the end of the day, if you only can pick one, who do you pick?
Kari: Absolutely. All right. So let’s talk about seasonality, because this matters as well. And again, you may not have all of this information, but if you do, it can be really, really valuable. So what you want to look at is when did they first give and when do they normally give. So let’s dig into this a little bit. Did they first give to you on a monthly basis? Are they a monthly recurring donor? Or did they give you a single gift? So what did that first gift look like? And then, how do they normally give? So, again, do they normally give you one gift a year? Is it, you know, quarterly they’re giving? Or are they a monthly donor? Because that’s important information to know. Again, as you saw in the last example, their level of commitment with the giving over time is really important.
Also, when did they first give? Was it a season? Did they first give in the fall? Was there a specific time of the month or time of the year that they came in? And when do they normally give? Are they still giving in that particular timeframe, or are they just giving sporadically throughout the year? Because again, their behavior is going to tell you what they’re passionate about and when the best time is to reach them. And we’ll explain this more as we go, but just follow me on this. So again, did they come in on year-end? Do they usually only give at year-end? Because again, that’s really important. I mean, we’re in January right now, and if somebody typically only gives at year-end, that’s a long time to wait to have to target them. So is there someone you can talk to sooner? And again, we’ll talk more about this in the plan part. But when did they first give, and when do they normally give?
And then, finally, was there something that brought them on the file or that they always give to that’s a seasonal offer? So is it a back-to-school campaign? Was it an Easter campaign? You know, was there something that happened? Was it a disaster, an natural disaster that happened that brought them on and they always give to that particular topic or in that particular month when we talk about that topic? Because again, you want to look at their behavior and what is most likely going to help them come back to you as a donor.
Jackie: Right along with seasonality is offer. Now, a lot of you probably only raise money for one thing. In this part, you can kind of just tune out a little bit. This is really about those organizations that have many different things that they’re raising money for. I’m going to use the example of a rescue mission because I think that just kind of paints a picture of what we’re trying to say here.
Let’s say that you’re a rescue mission, and you provide meals, especially holiday meals, you provide shelter and maybe some counseling, and job training, and job placement. Okay. So when you’re trying to figure out who you’re going to target to win back, you really do want to say, “What was that first thing they gave to?” More than likely, in our case of a rescue mission, it was the meals, right, because that’s what you put out in acquisition, right, was the meals. But let’s say, you know, maybe you’ve just been talking to them about job placement because the job placement is really the thing that elevates the homeless and helps them get off the streets and all of that.
So again, not everybody will have this, but if you have this information and you can see what did people give the most . . . words are hard, what did they give the most to as far as your offer. Do they always give to meals? Do they always give to job placement? If you have this information, you can use it then to win them back because all you have to do is talk to them about the thing that they’re passionate about, right?
Kari: And I do want to talk about really quickly in here why it’s important to talk about the first thing that they gave to, because even if you’re an organization that only does one thing, is there a change in how you’ve been talking about that one thing? Because if you were presenting it one way and that was really resonating with the particular subset of your audience, and now you’re talking about it in a different way, even though it’s the same thing, that could be under one of those little categories of, hey, maybe that’s something we did that has transitioned the behavior. They’re no longer hearing it the same way that hit their heart and their head. They’re hearing it in a different way, and it’s not as motivating for them to give. So again, anything you can do to get specific with why were they giving in the first place and what are they really passionate about, it’s going to help you be, like, more consistent as you craft that offer.
Jackie: Exactly. Because it’s really important to evaluate and do a little self-analysis and say, “Are we still sending these offers?” or like Kari said, in the same way to these people. Okay. So if you’re a disaster response organization, this is a toughie. This is really tough. I would say, disaster donors, whether it’s a humanitarian disaster or a natural disaster, tend to give just for that particular thing. That doesn’t always make them a long-term donor of the organization. Gosh, I think I saw a stat earlier this week that said only 10% of disaster response donors continue with an organization, 10%. So winning back those lapsed, again, is possible. It’s just . . . it’s really tough. Living in Florida, like I do, there is . . . you know, when Puerto Rico had that hurricane, you know, that was huge here. It was huge. A, we understand how horrible it is to go through a hurricane, and B, a lot of people who live in Florida have family members in Puerto Rico. And so there are ways, again, to win those people back if you continue to talk about, “You know, it’s almost hurricane season again, and we still haven’t rebuilt from the last one,” and all those things. There are ways to do it, but it’s a little bit of an uphill battle, but we did kind of want to mention it here.
Kari: Yeah. And I do see a lot of questions about COVID-specific donors, and we’ll talk about that in the Q&A because I know that that’s something that a lot of people are experiencing right now, people that came in almost kind of like that feeling of disaster relief. But it is different, and we are seeing differences with that. So we’ll make sure that we address that in the Q&A part so we can give some specific strategies for those COVID donors.
Kari: So again, going deeper into those qualifiers, let’s look at the preferred channel. So again, how did they come into your organization? Because this matters. And how did they engage with you? Because again, this is going to help you be specific about how you can communicate with them. So let’s go through these.
So the first three we’re going to kind of lump together. So these are people that came into you from a peer-to-peer campaign, they came in from social media, or they came in from an event. And the reason I’m lumping these together is because these donors typically tend to respond the same way. And what I mean by that is they gave to your organization, but they may not have given to you because they’re passionate about you. They may have given to you because a friend asked them to. So their friend did a campaign to promote, you know, your organization on their birthday, or their boss invited them to come to your fundraising banquet when we were having fundraising banquets or if you’re in a state where that’s still happening. So they might have come and given because of the person that invited them, not necessarily because they’re super passionate about your offer.
Now, that said, there are things you can do that will help them become passionate about you and your organization, but statistically, people that come in from these channels, it’s more work and it’s more money to convert them to being a donor than it is the last three that we’re going to talk about. So again, if we’re talking about finite resources, finite time, and a finite budget, you’re going to want to focus on these bottom three, if you can. So again, knowing how somebody came into your file is going to be really important, and the second part, how did they engage with you, is going to become really critical as we talk about these three.
So again, did someone come in as a major donor, did someone come in on email, or did they come in on direct mail? Well, why does that matter? If they came in on email or they came in on direct mail, and that’s how they’ve been engaging with you, that’s probably how you want to retarget them. So don’t change the game. I mean, you can still do a multi-channel where you send them an email and direct mail campaign, but if they’re giving to you one way, that’s probably how they prefer to hear from you and how they prefer to give to you. So you’re going to want to try to retarget them and win them back in that same channel if you have that information.
And the one-to-one major donors, if you have a major donor rep, that’s fantastic, people that can really meet with them. But there’s kind of even more specific strategies on major donors, so we’re not going to get super far into that. But again, how did they come in, and how do they prefer to hear from you? How do they prefer to give? You know, do you send them a direct mail piece, but they give online? You want to make sure that you’re meeting them where they’re at and giving them an opportunity to communicate back to you in a way that they’re really comfortable with.
Jackie: Okay. So that was a lot of stuff, and like we said before, don’t panic if you don’t have all of those things in your database. It’s very easy to add them now going forward. And we strongly recommend that because down the road, again, it does help as you’re doing any type of select, whether it’s for an appeal or for a win back. Okay.
Kari: Because if you think about it, the time and money that you can save by having the right audience with the right offer at the right time, it’s incredible, and your results are going to go up, your response rate will go up. All of that matters. So taking the time to make sure that your data is as full as you can get it is really worth the time. And again, something like Bloomerang is so fantastic for that because there’s options to add all those tags.
Jackie: Exactly. And I guess we’ll say here too, it is easier to win back a lapse than it is to get a new donor. Okay. So really the more that you can focus on this, it really will help you bring in revenue and re-engage valuable donors. Okay. So we’ve gone through all of these qualifiers of all the stuff we want you to look at. Okay. So you looked at it, now what? What do I do with it, right? So that’s what we’re going to talk about.
So on the recency, as we said, the most recent is best. Go for those in your first group. Absolutely. That’s where you’re going to see the biggest win. Also, on the monetary, you’re going to look for that consistent giving pattern and the total amount that someone has given, right, those two things. Now, more than likely, you have this information on your database. When was their last gift? And how much have they given?
If you have it and you can work into seasonality and offer, what we want to do is find where the similar offer is in a similar season so that we can get these people back into a communication stream as fast as possible. So like we said before, if somebody only gives at year-end, gosh, darn it, you know, if we wait, they’re going to be 24 months lapsed as opposed to only being, well, it’s January, 13 months lapsed, or whatever, right? So you’re going to try to find where somewhere we can work them in that’s similar. Again, if you have the data, if you knew that they liked meals, maybe you do a meal offer or something sooner than the time that you normally would.
And then, of course, there’s the preferred channel, which we just said. Email, direct mail, and one-to-one are the lowest-hanging fruit. You will more than likely get the bigger bang out of your buck. And that is absolutely where we would recommend. Obviously, email is less expensive than the printing and postage of direct mail. You can keep the funnel a little wider on that. But anytime you’re talking about things that are going to cost you money, you want to really narrow. Sometimes mailing less is better. Okay.
Kari: And I do see . . . Steven, if we could flag, I see a lot of questions about relationship donors, whether it’s either peer-to-peer or major donor or somebody who is a major donor rep or in that role. So if you could flag that for a question because I think that’s a really great question that we want to make sure we have time to answer at the end and can give some specifics around that.
Jackie: I’m glad you can see that. I can’t see any of that. Okay. All I see is this. Okay. So now we’re moving our way through the funnel, and we’re getting to the communication part, what do you say to them, right? We’ve identified them, we kind of figured out who maybe, and now it’s what do we say, how do we do it?
Kari: Yep. So let’s talk about best practices. So these are things that you should be doing every single time you communicate with your donors, and then we’re going to talk about specifics for your lapse. So anytime you communicate with your donors, period, especially when you are asking them for a gift, you need to make sure that you appeal to both their head and their heart. So what that means is you need to use logic and you need to use something emotional, like a story, like Jackie just posted up, the lives changed due to your organization, to show them that, “Hey, here’s a logical reason why you should give, and here’s why you should really genuinely care in your heart about this offer.” And it’s a balance for doing that, because they need both in order to choose to make that gift. So you want to make sure that you’re doing that, that you’re really focusing on those lives changed by your organization with a powerful and compelling story. So this is, like, do not skip this anytime you communicate with your donors.
And then, finally, this sounds really basic, but you would be surprised of the number of times that a Donate button is either buried, or we post a social media thing and there’s no link to actually give, or we maybe don’t even ask them to give in the email. We’re so caught up in all of this other stuff. So make it really, really easy for them to do what you’re asking them to do. One click to your donation page. You know, one, just very clear, Give, Click Here, Give, Reply, “Here’s the reply envelope.” Make it very, very easy for them to actually do that.
So let’s talk about lapsed specific, because there are some things here that are really going to help you win those people back. And how you communicate with them matters. So the first thing is don’t tell them they’re lapsed. Remember how we said, they don’t consider them to be a lapsed donor. They really don’t. So if you’re coming out the gate saying, “Gosh, we miss you so much,” or, “Why haven’t you given?” and you’re even using the phrase lapsed, don’t talk to them that way. And we’re going to give you a really great example of how you can actually do this, but rule one, don’t tell them they’re lapsed.
Second rule, don’t be desperate. And Jackie has a great example of what desperate looks like when it comes to trying to reactivate your donors.
Jackie: We had a client, and their agency, for some reason, excluded a ton of donors, and they were never communicated to. Okay. So the organization felt horrible, and they had all of these things. So they sent us this letter that they wanted us to review, and it was . . . the organization was falling on the sword. “We’re so sorry. Please come back. We didn’t mean to exclude you.” And we were, like, “No.” They were too desperate. They were begging. They were taking responsibility for something that people might not have even noticed. You can really treat them just like you did before.
Kari: Yeah. And then ask appropriately. Ask them for the appropriate amounts. And if possible, ask them to reactivate on something that they’re really passionate about. What was that thing that they originally gave to? What’s that thing that they give to again and again and again? Maybe they haven’t for a couple of years, but what is that thing that they are passionate about? So let’s show you an example, because I think this is going to answer some of the questions that are coming up in the chat.
So this is something that Jackie actually got in the mail not that long ago. She’s not the person, but it was sent to her via somebody else because they thought it was a great example too. So, Jackie, I’ll let you jump in.
Jackie: Okay. So Kari has this saying that you cannot over-thank a donor. You cannot thank a donor too much. She says these things all the time, anybody who talks to her. So I get this, I take a picture of it, I text it to her right away, and I’m, like, “How about now? Is this too much?” And her answer was . . .
Kari: Nope, not at all. Not at all. I thought it was great. I mean, who doesn’t want to open that letter? I hate mail, and I would totally open that letter.
Jackie: So here’s the inside. Now, we’re going to walk through . . . Kari, you want to start at the top and kind of walk us through it?
Kari: Yeah. So I thought this . . . from start to finish, I thought this was a really great example of how to treat your lapsed donors, because I think sometimes we get really awkward. You know, it’s kind of like that friend that we haven’t seen in a while, and it’s, like, “Are we still friends? Do you still want to be my friend? Do we need to have, like, a DTR and determine what broke down and why, you know, is there something we need to fix?” This is a great way of addressing all of those things in a way that doesn’t do any of that in an awkward position and actually helps the donor feel really understood and valued and that you see them and know who they are. So let’s start at the top.
At the very top of this, it says, “Partner since 1995,” and actually, they even have the entrance date, December 18th. That’s when this donor gave their first gift. So that right there says, “We know you. We know who you are. And you’ve been around for a while,” whether it’s a year ago or now, like, you know, you matter, and we know who you are. And you don’t have to use the phrase renewal notice. You can use your own language, however you want to do it. This is just a great example of how this organization did it, and it’s language that they’ve used before.
So find your own way of saying renewal if that’s not your particular way of doing it. And then what they’re saying up here is, you know, “Notice for partnership in 2022.” And they even have a card up here saying, “Hey, we’re a partner in 2022,” and this is a program that this particular nonprofit has where they call those particular donors partners. So again, this is very branded to them, but use your own for what makes sense to you. And they have a card where it even says, “Partner since 1995.” So again, they’re re-emphasizing, “We’ve had a relationship with you. We value you. We know you and who you are.”
So here, we get into this part, and their first sentence is, “A new year has begun! We hope,” their organization name, “can count on your renewed support with a 2022 gift today.” So what they’re saying here is, “We hope we can count on your renewed support.” And you don’t have to use the word renewed, but what a great way to say, “We know that you want to be with us. We’re excited. We hope that you’re with us.” But it’s not desperate. It’s not beggy. It’s not, “Hey, we haven’t heard from you in a really long time,” you know, that kind of a thing. But it’s still acknowledging, “Hey, we haven’t heard, but we’re expecting you to renew.”
Jackie: Now, the part where they kind of call out that maybe we’re lapsed a little bit here is in this Recent Activity Summary box here, right? And they just put it. There’s no real, you know, flashing lights and, you know, “You suck,” or anything like that. It’s just, you know, “You didn’t give a gift in 2020 or 2021. It’s only 27 days into 2022.” But then they put this little sentence in here, “Above is a summary of your giving activity over the past few years. If you made a recent gift that’s not shown here, perhaps our letters crossed in the mail. If so, accept our warmest thanks.” Again, it’s not beating you up over the head. There’s a little bit of logic here, though, right? There’s logic, right? Oh, logically, I’m looking at the numbers. Oh, yeah, I guess I haven’t given in a couple of years. Huh, okay. Well, yeah, they sent me this thing, and now, there’s also a little bit of emotion in here. It’s talking about how important it is and how your support has made all of these things since 1995. But again, you don’t have to go overboard because this donor has been with you for a long time, even though . . . and I do know this donor, by the way, and there was a change for them in 2020 and 2021. But we’ll probably get them.
Kari: And if you look here, too, the other thing to point out is “Your renewed donation of,” and they have specific dollar amounts that make sense for this donor. Now, their last gift was less than those amounts, but their lifetime giving and gifts in the past, you know, how we talked about year-over-year, it went down in 2019, but in previous years, it was higher than that. And we talked to this donor so we know all this information, because again, we thought this was just such a great example of how to do this well. So again, you don’t need to have a box that calls it out, but look at these elements and try to figure out for you and your organization, how can we take some of this language? How can we take some of these elements and use these to win back these donors in a way that sounds like we know who they are, we know what their giving amount is, and honestly, something might have just happened in their life where they didn’t give? They’re not mad at us. We didn’t fail them, we don’t need to fall on our sword, but, “Hey, we’d love to count on your gift moving forward.” Makes sense? Everyone good? Thumbs up. Are you with us?
Jackie: Okay. All right. So we’re going to make our plan. Our action plan is three steps, right? First, we’re going to pick our who, then we’re going to pick our when, and then we’re going to pick our how. All right. So we’ll jump into picking the who.
Kari: So again, look back at what we talked about. So go back to those qualifying attributes and go through them and really identify if we have a limited amount of time and budget and energy, who is that first group that we want to go after? What is the lowest-hanging fruit? And again, if you look at that slide that we talked about that had all those qualifiers, if you literally just follow that, you have a great, small low-hanging fruit select that you can go after right away. So the next thing that you want to do now that you have that group is pick when. And like we’ve talked about, you want to go back to the offer and the seasonality and find the soonest time you can communicate to them about something that they’re passionate about. So don’t wait till year-end. Still target them at year-end, absolutely. But you know, we’re almost in February, so we’re thinking, “Hey, March, April, what is something that we could send to this group that would resonate with them? How soon can we get something to them that makes sense?”
Our slide is stuck, I think. Sorry about that. I got muted. Jackie got muted. Jackie, are we able to move the slide forward?
Jackie: Yeah, sorry. I think something happened there.
Kari: No, that’s okay.
Jackie: Okay. Back in business.
Kari: So again, the soonest most compatible time. So what can you work into your upcoming communications is one thing that you can look at. So let’s say you have a communication coming up in March and April. Is that something that makes sense to these donors? Can we work into that and just have a lapsed version that goes out to these specific people with just one or two sentences changed kind of about, “Hey, you know, we’d love to have your support for this gift,” just a little bit of language changes, or do we need to create an entirely new campaign we is really kind of what we’re going to talk about in the how.
So which channel do you want to communicate with them with? Is it direct mail, is it email, is it both? And again, is this going to be a standalone campaign, or is this going to be, like, a version of something that we’re already doing to the rest of our donors? Is it a specific acquisition campaign that we’re going to run, or is this . . . again, you know, is it going to go with acquisition, is it going to go with our normal file, or is it totally by itself? Makes sense? So how do we want to do it?
All right. So really quickly, we’re just going to review, and then we’re going to open it up to questions. So again, we’ve got your funnel, starting with all of your lapsed donors, follow those steps to qualify and to get down to the lowest-hanging fruit, and then follow those communication tips to really win those people back. And again, that plan is really just that one, two, three, how are we going to do that? And I know I went ahead of the slide, but I really want to get into questions because I think that’s what . . . you know, as much time as we can spend on that would be great. So, Steven, we’d love to throw it back to you for questions, and we’ll do our best to answer everything that we can. We’ll put up our contact information. If we don’t get to your question, send us an email. We’d love to hear from you and love to help if we can answer the questions that you’ve got.
Steven: Nice. That was awesome. First, thanks, Jackie and Kari. That was really a lot of good information in a short amount of time. So thank you so much. Thanks for doing this.
Kari: A firehose.
Steven: Yeah. But it was good stuff, for sure. And I just found myself nodding along so often. And I love what you said right at the beginning that, you know, some of these people may not consider themselves lapsed, so, you know, be careful how you address them. That’s awesome. So there’s a lot of good questions in here. If you have not asked your question yet, do so now. We’ll probably be able to get to all of them. I promise I’m not playing favorites. Probably have about 10 minutes. But, Kari, why don’t we start on what you called out, this idea that these folks are giving in different ways, peer-to-peer, you talked about? It seems like maybe there’s a similarity with memorial and tribute donors, right, because maybe there’s a third party, maybe there isn’t that necessarily that affinity with your relationship, and also similar to the disaster donors, too. What should people . . . are those the signals they should be looking for when kind of deciding how to approach the communication? What have you seen work with those kinds of folks?
Kari: Yeah, that’s a great question. Jackie, I’ll let you jump in, and then I’ll fill in.
Jackie: Okay. So, okay. So I’m going to take a slightly different look at that, and then we can get into how to communicate with them. When we’re talking to people, when I’m talking to people, especially about new donor acquisition, right, if you’re trying to bring in people just really for those one-time gifts, that is a solid strategy, right? The peer-to-peers and the memorials, and all of that, that is very solid, and that can give you all kinds of revenue, right? You want different revenue streams. But to act like those people are going to be with you and give to you monthly or all throughout the time is not really how it always works, right? But you can . . . there’s always something you can do, right? And so there’s different ways that you can communicate. But again, if you know why, right, even on a memorial gift, if you know why somebody gave, let’s say American Cancer, right, because my mom died of cancer, and so, you know, but people know that . . . the organization knows that I came in from a memorial gift, so they send me anniversary appeals near the time of when my first memorial gift came in.
Kari: Yeah. And I do want to talk specifically about peer-to-peer because I did see some people in the chat saying that that was a big reason why they have lapsed, and first of all, that’s normal. Like, we talked about that’s going to happen. Second of all, there are things you can do to reactivate those people. It might not be the lowest-hanging fruit for you, but one thing that we recommend if you are not doing this already is anytime that there is an event or there is a peer-to-peer campaign, add those people to your welcome series. Give them, you know, three to five emails over a condensed period of time that introduces them to who you are, that tells them about what you’re doing, that lets them get to know you in a way that’s outside of that relationship that they came in on.
Again, this is specific to peer-to-peer and events, because I do want to address the major donor situation that came up too. So work them into that welcome series strategy. That’s a great way to begin to build that relationship. And so, again, there are things that you can do, but if I were to say, for peer-to-peer, and that’s something you can even do with lapsed peer-to-peer right now, is if you haven’t sent them a welcome series, send them a welcome series. They don’t know it’s a welcome series. All they know is they’re getting information about your organization. And you can even tailor a couple of those sentences, “Hey, we’re so thankful for your gift. Look at what you’re doing. Look at the impact that you’re having.” So you really want to try to build that relationship with them outside of how they came in.
So to circle back to that same question with regard to major donors and relationships, you know, the reality is, is major donors, yes, they give because of relationship, in a lot of cases, but they also give because of a passion point. And so if you’re in a position where, you know, let’s say that major donor rep is leaving or your executive director who had that relationship is leaving, what you really need to do is get specific about who these people are and what was their passion point about giving, and then you probably are going to have to spend some time and effort and energy building that relationship personally yourself. But if you know what they’re passionate about, it’s a lot easier to do that. Because major donors are very unique in their giving. They don’t want to give to everything. They want to give to something specific. And there’s a reason why, and there is a passion point in their heart why they want to give to that. So the more specific you can give them, and ask or an offer that you can give them that’s specific to that, the more likely you are that they’re going to stay on your file and stay with your organization after that person leaves, because that’s not going anywhere. And if you can show them, “Hey, this person might be leaving, but this isn’t leaving, this still is here,” they’re more likely to stay.
Steven: That makes sense. Yeah. Dang, you covered a lot there, too. That was awesome. My takeaway is it’s okay if people give once. Like, there are going to be some people, right? And to Jackie’s point, that’s a sound part of your overall mix. So, and I’m like the retention guy, but I’m not afraid to say, “Just bless and release some of these people,” because that’s okay. So I love that you’re encouraging and giving people the freedom to think, by the way. So thank you. The letter example you all showed, it generated a few questions. Yeah, I’m wondering and some other folks are wondering, is that letter . . . first of all, it’s dedicated to lapsed donors, I assume. In other words, it’s segmented to those people. So if that’s the case, are you withholding other communications from that group? In other words, they’re only getting that kind of segmented piece. Are you kind of suppressing them from the other communications? And at what point would you decide to do that, if so?
Kari: That’s a great question.
Jackie: Actually, this person who this example was addressed to is not being suppressed from other communications. They were sent year-end. They were sent some . . . they get something about once a month. But this one, in particular, really calling out, “Hey, it’s been a little bit.”
Kari: We haven’t heard from you in a while.
Steven: Makes sense.
Kari: And that is a great question. And Jackie and I might have different opinions on this. You know, at what point do you really drop those people? I don’t know that you do. And Jackie might disagree with me on this, but how you go after them will change. When they’re outside of that 24-month range, you might want to consider putting them into a different category. Maybe they’re not getting all of [inaudible 00:53:27].
Steven: Stream, yes.
Kari: You know, maybe they’re getting a really targeted lapsed strategy, or maybe you’re adding them into acquisition, and you’re kind of at a certain point . . . and Jackie is a lot better than I am at determining where that point is, maybe you’re treating them as an entirely new donor as opposed to someone that was specific to lapsed. So I mean, how you communicate with them will change, but I mean, in my opinion, keep them on your file and try to just find a new way to communicate with them as you have time and budget. But, Jackie, I’ll let you add your thoughts on that.
Jackie: No. I agree with that. And in the case of this particular example, right, like, this particular donor usually does do . . . gives at year-end. And so they absolutely did not exclude her from year-end.
Kari: Yeah. And Suzanne asked a great question. If someone’s recently lapsed and they don’t consider themselves to be, which I guarantee you, they don’t, can you just include them in current donor communications and send them current stuff? Yes, absolutely. Keep them in your file. Keep giving to them. Where you might want to target them though is, again, kind of going back to what was the last thing that they gave to. What are they really passionate about? What is that offer that they were really excited about? And how can I specifically target them if I need to with that? So maybe it’s something extra.
Steven: Makes sense. Yeah. Most people don’t ask enough, so why not keep some of those other things going too, right? That makes sense. So you both mentioned NCOAs, address updaters, things like that, assuming that maybe some of these lapsed people, you know, their contact info has changed. What are some other ways or maybe schedules where you are going back to the data to update, to clean? Any tips and tricks there?
Kari: Jackie, I’ll let you take that one.
Jackie: Well, like I said before, you know, the post office recommends NCOA quarterly. I would say, we do too. It’s only a 90-day lookback. I get that that’s an additional expense, but I’m telling you, getting return mail first-class that you spent a lot of money on is heartbreaking. And it really does kind of turn your stomach when you see hundreds of your appeals coming back to you. I think that is, for sure, you know, that’s the easiest, fastest thing to do on the address side.
Steven: Got it. A few people are asking about board members. Does the board play a role in any of this perhaps? And there’s actually one specific question, what if some of your lapsed donors are board members? Well, we all want board members giving every year. Any differences there? And I assume maybe some of the board members could participate in the stewardship after this, perhaps. What have you seen work there?
Kari: Yeah, that’s great. And you do want to tread differently with your board members. For some organizations, they see that when someone joins their board, they actually stop giving, because some people, they’re either giving you money or time. So that’s something to look at, did they lapse when they joined your board? So, and if that’s the case, maybe approach it differently and just kind of assume that maybe the giving will resume when they leave the board position, you know, when they cycle out. The other thing that you can do, again, board members are very unique and very different, that’s really a place I would start. That’s your lowest-hanging fruit. Secondarily, you can talk to them about upcoming . . . what are they passionate about? Why did they join the board? When they’re in your board meeting, what’s the thing that you’re doing that they’re excited about, and how can you build a campaign around that? How can you get them energized to want to give to that specific thing? That would be another recommendation. Because again, major donors, they want to give to something specific, not to everything.
Steven: Makes sense. Wow, this hour flew by. We’ve only got a couple of minutes left, and I want to give you two the last word. I know we didn’t get to all the questions. I’m so sorry about that. There are some good ones in here. But can folks reach out by email? Is that okay with you two?
Kari: Yeah. If we didn’t get to your question, please email us. We’d love to connect with you. Yeah, absolutely.
Jackie: One quick thing, because this was brought up earlier, Steven, sorry, about COVID donors. Kari, you want to just mention that really quick on our last two minutes here?
Kari: Yeah. Do you want to take that, or do you want me to jump in?
Jackie: You can.
Kari: So we are hearing a lot right now, as everyone is, about COVID fatigue. I mean, just raise your hand if you’re sick of hearing about COVID. All of us are sick of hearing about COVID. And so if you had donors that came in on a COVID-specific related thing, we’re noticing two things. Some of them are responding like disaster relief responders, where they gave to that thing because it was hot, it was urgent, it might have even been local to their specific situation, and they wanted to help someone in that environment. If that’s the case, it is probably going to be harder for them to stay on your file in an active way because they came as that disaster relief mentality.
Now, we are seeing on the other side, and where we’ve seen a lot of success, is again people that came on from that offer, but they received a welcome series, they’ve had great feedback on what you’ve done with their gift, how have you used what they’ve given, and how were you helping people transition into this new avenue. And so really what I would say is it’s very similar to peer-to-peer or even disaster relief, is you don’t have to keep talking just about COVID to them. In fact, maybe don’t. But show them what their gift’s doing. Show them how they’ve had an impact. Show them where those people that they helped during COVID are now, why does that matter, and why do you still need their support, you know, beyond that. But again, realize that we’re still learning a lot about this donor group and their specific behavior patterns, and it has kind of been pretty split between those that want to stick around and those that behave more like disaster relief donors. And, Jackie, I know you have thoughts on this too.
Jackie: Again, back to the audience, right, the thing about a lot of these COVID donors that is different than emergency relief is the amount of time, right? Normally, with emergency relief, it’s something you saw in the news, it’s in the paper, whatever, it’s in your face for a very short period of time. It’s an earthquake. It’s whatever. The COVID thing, you know, we’re, like, on year two here. So they are responding slightly different. They are retaining more. Again, from what we’ve seen, most of them are retaining at a greater rate than the typical earthquake or hurricane disaster. But keep asking.
Kari: And again, keep in mind that rule. Every time you ask, thank them twice. Report back to them twice on what you’re doing, on why it matters on who you’re helping, that good news, the good news, the good news.
Jackie: Thank you. Thank you.
Kari: Yeah. And that can help as well in terms of keeping them around.
Steven: Can’t thank too much, can’t report on impact too much, right? Always good advice for everybody. Yeah. That’s an awesome topic. Dang, I wish we could talk another hour on just the COVID donors, but definitely a situation I know you’re all looking at and we’re keeping an eye on too.
Jackie: Every day.
Steven: Yeah, absolutely. Well, how can folks get in touch with you two? I want them to check out the shop, so how can they do that?
Jackie: Well, you can go to our website, thenonprofitconsultingshop.com. And like we said, if you have a question that we didn’t get to, shoot us an email at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you.
Steven: Nice. Thanks for doing this you two. I know you’re super busy, you’re doing all your client work, and, Kari, you’re working on your nonprofit too. So thanks for taking the time for joining us today.
Kari: This was fun. Thanks for having us.
Steven: Yeah. This was awesome. And thanks to you all for hanging out. I think we had almost 500 people at the height. So that was awesome to see. So thank you all for taking an hour. Yeah, that was great.
Kari: And for being so interactive. It’s fun to see the chat. It’s always encouraging as a presenter when people are participating, so thank you.
Steven: I told you, the Bloomerang crew, they’re a good crew. I always appreciate all the chats and the weather updates when they indulge me on that. So thank you. Speaking of the Bloomerang crew, we got another one coming up next year. We’re going to talk about the relationship between the ED and the board chair. Oh, yeah, that’s always a fun one, right? So if you are one of those two people or if you are around one of those two people, I think that’s basically everybody, right, join us, same time, same place, next week, next Thursday, 1 p.m. My buddy Nancy is going to talk about that relationship, because it’s an important one and not one we see talked about too often. So join us.
If you can’t make it, register anyway because I’ll send you the recording if you are registered, just like we’re going to send the recording to this one. Don’t worry about taking up somebody’s spot. There’s an infinite amount of spots, and I won’t know necessarily that you weren’t there. That won’t hurt our feelings. So check that out next week if you’re free. We got a lot of other sessions scheduled that you can check out as well every Thursday. We’ll keep it going through the year. So thanks for joining us. And like I said, be on the lookout for an email from me with all the resources from today. And hopefully, we will see you again next week. So have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good weekend. Stay safe. Stay warm. Stay healthy. And we will talk to you all soon. Bye now.
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