Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Welcoming your lapsed donors back

As we think about proactive and strategic donor relations and how we move the needle on ever falling donor retention rates, I am constantly thinking of new ways to reinforce and encourage good donor behavior.

My colleague recently got a five month old puppy, his first indoor dog. I was giving him some tips for training and tolerating the puppy stage and for reinforcing good behavior, and in my mind it reminded me a great deal of donor relations. In building donor retention, one of the things we want to do is encourage the donor behavior we desire from our donors.

How do we do this? Well, a few methods are proving to be most effective: first time donor welcome programs, consecutive donor recognition and other programs can be wonderful for reinforcement as well.

But what happens when your lapsed donors, those squirrlly SYBUNTS as we call them, or lapsed or long lapsed donors give again? Do you have a proactive touch in place to reward them for coming BACK? Have you and your annual giving folks thought or talked about this? Well my clients and I are. Let's think about how wonderful it is to say to a donor, you did something great and we noticed! So if a donor comes back after being lapsed, what does that communication look like?
Here is an example of best/next practice from my folks at Whitworth University who are building a best in class donor relations program.

It doesn't have to be a postcard or mailing, it doesn't have to be fancy. What if it were an email? I'm picturing Welcome Back Kotter here and have included a cute image for my friend Debbie.

So have you thought about this group? What are you doing to encourage and reward donors who come back into the fold? How are we making them feel special? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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