5 Ways to Keep Your Donors from Lapsing

By E. Dale Berkey, Ph.D.

It’s a question fundraisers have been asking for a long time.

Why do some donors keep giving year after year, while others fade away after their first gift?

BBS & Associates had the pleasure of conducting a research study last fall in conjunction with Campbell Rinker to determine generational and gender differences in charitable giving.

Eleven ministries participated in the Unlocking the Donor’s Heart study, with a total donor sample of 2,934.

Out of all the intriguing findings that resulted from this research, five basics stood out to us:

1. Lapsed donors don’t remember when they last gave.

They think it was months ago, when in fact it was years — suggesting they don’t think it’s time to give again yet. Ministries must invent ways to remind lapsed donors of why they decided to give in the first place and how long it has been since they last supported the cause.

2. Different constituencies hold unique values that ministries must affirm.

Encourage groups like lapsed, digital, and younger donors to discuss giving with their spouse. Emphasize thrift and integrity among older donors. Stress openness and authenticity to Millennials.

3. Ask for realistic amounts.

Ask amounts that work for active or single-gift donors may be too high for lapsed multi-gift donors, whose households generally have lower charity budgets. Ask amounts that are too high could remove a ministry from giving consideration.

4. Tend to your older donors.

More older donors over the last two years have consciously stopped giving to a charity at a rate significantly higher than younger donors. This may merit more frequent messages to demonstrate your care and concern for them.

5. Younger donors lapse due to disinterest, not perceived mistreatment.

Keep them interested, and you’ll keep them invested. They don’t get offended by what they don’t read.

Taking these critical steps in how you relate to and communicate with your donors can preemptively address some of the most common reasons people stop giving … and keep your donors actively partnering with you in ministry.

Interested in additional findings from this study or how we can help you with your own donor research project? Email Dale Berkey at dberkey@servantheart.com for more information.