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When to Lapse Your Lapsed Donor Reach-Out?

Does your station have any processes to get back your lapsed donors?

The answer is: “NOT ANYTIME SOON!” according to Erica Waasdorp in her recent article. She did her own study to observe how 20 organizations dealt with her expired credit card and the results were quite shocking.

A monthly gift was set up for all organizations just a month before her credit card expired leaving her in the lapsed zone. The next step was to wait and see how they tried to salvage their relationship.

Within the two following months, only two organizations called and the rest sent one email or automated emails. A couple had links to update card information online and some took a small step and sent a letter that was not inviting. Nothing was personal or motivated her to become a sustainer again.

With no reach out on her end, 9 months passed by. Her phone rings and it is the development associate from one of the organizations apologizing for not calling sooner since she was a new employee. Thanks were given for her previous gifts and updated information was then exchanged.

Why did she tell this story and why did CDP find it compelling enough to retell? Because you should not give up on lapsed sustainers. Use different modes of reach-out, don’t be afraid to contact multiple times, and you can negotiate lower monthly amounts. If they do not have a specific reason for stopping then you should be contacting them to get them back.

Barry Nelson wrote a post for CDP about how Sustainers Need TLC. Sustainers take a lot of time and effort from stations. Everyone will benefit if all steps are taken to maintain strong relationships.

He mentions a few important points from CDP’s existing sustainer checklist:

  • Run monthly QC reports looking for donors marked as Sustainer, but do not have an active Sustainer pledge
  • Contact donor (mail/email/call) 2-3 times to recover/restart declined credit card or EFT payment
  • Call, mail & email donors 2 months in advance of credit card expiry dates

He also mentions that Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) could be used to reduce the number of lapsed donors due to expired credit cards. Please visit our resource page for more information on EFT.

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