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End of Year Is Here: Where to Focus Your Attention Right Now

Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

Well, that was quick, it’s already October (Friday, October the 13th to be exact). Where did 2017 go?
As with every year, time seems to move by quicker and quicker. With the end of year among us, today’s blog post will focus on helping you recapture soon-to-be lapsed donors. With only a few more months left in the calendar year, your time is more precious than ever. Where should you focus your attention right now?
I know you’re probably inundated with blog posts, webinar promotions, and links to all sorts of “end of year” content (‘tis the season), but we’ll try and keep this one short, sweet and to the point.
There are plenty of great resources out there to make your end of year fundraising extra special. But cutting through all the noise and focusing on the most important aspects of your fundraising during the last few weeks of the year can be difficult.
One blog says, “focus on designing the best email template”, whereas another preaches the need to boost your social media presence after #GivingTuesday.
I’d like to approach this time of year with a more practical mindset. Let’s recapture soon-to-be lapsed donors, how about that?
I personally like to write long-form content (if you read my weekly blog over on the Fundraising Report Card, you know that) — 1,000+ word articles that take a little while to read. Not today. Time is of the essence, let’s get started.
Here are 3 easy steps you can take right now (seriously, 5-10 minutes) to identify, prioritize and recapture soon-to-be lapsed donors.

How to identify lapsed donors

A lapsed donor is an individual who made a donation to your organization last year and did not renew in the next. That donor lapsed when they stopped giving.
Soon-to-be lapsed donors refer to individuals who are on the cusp of lapsing. It’s October, that means your soon-to-be-lapsed donors are all of the individuals who gave last year but have not renewed yet as of October 13th this year. Obviously, some of these soon-to-be lapsed donors will renew on their own (maybe an individual donated in December of last year and plan to renew again this December) but some haven’t or won’t. Let’s identify those people quickly and easily.
By identifying who is currently lapsed (as of today) we can analyze a smaller number of donor profiles to help prioritize who we reach out to (more on that soon).
So, with this in mind, how do we identify your lapsed donors?
Here is your super simple 3 step process for finding out who has yet to renew, no Excel pivot tables needed:

  1. Download a “donation history” report from your CRM
  2. Login to MarketSmart’s Fundraising Report Card and upload your file
  3. Click on the Custom Queries tab
  4. Query for “all lapsed donors in 2017”
    • You can even query for downgraded donors if you’d like too

export-lapsed-donors
There you go. Done. The file that downloads will contain all of the donors who donated in 2016 (last year) but have yet to renew this year. If you query downgraded donors as well (which I recommend) you’ll have a list of donors from last year that have renewed this year, but have decreased their giving amount.

How to prioritize (soon-to-be) lapsed donors

When you create your “custom query” toggle the “all” selection to “$5,000+.” Instead of exporting all soon-to-be lapsed donors the file that downloads will only contain donors from last year that donated $5,000 or more and have not yet renewed this year. Important folks, eh?
Take those 5, 10, 15, however many donor ID’s that are in the export and look those people up in your CRM.
Head back to your Fundraising Report Card and query for lapsed $1,000-$5,000 donors. You now have the next segment of donors that should require your attention. Do this with downgraded donors as well.
At this point, you’ll most likely identify a few folks that you know are planning on making a donation in the next few months. My hope is that you also find one or two or ten people who had “slipped through the cracks”. Major donors who had donated last year and weren’t planning on renewing this year that you can now engage with.

How to reactivate (soon to be) lapsed donors

I’m no fundraising expert, I leave that to Greg, but I do build tools to help make fundraisers more efficient and data-driven.
There are a lot of folks out there who have brilliant ideas for how to recapture lapsed donors. Let’s defer to them on this last point:

Or, simply refer to some of Greg’s great materials here on the SmartIdeas blog. Reactivating soon-to-be lapsed donors doesn’t mean soliciting them for money. You could simply engage with them, talk to them, learn more about their commitment to your organization, etc.

Tying it all together

To bring everything to a close, here is a recap of how to recapture lapsed donors before it is too late:

  1. Identify your lapsed donors
  2. Prioritize who to engage with
    • Breakdown lapsed and downgraded donors by giving level
  3. Reactivate before it’s too late

Give these three steps a try and let us know how it works. Also, if you need a hand or get stuck, contact our support team. We’re here and happy to partner with you to make sure this end of year is a success!
And, as an extra bonus, if you’re available on December 7th, join me for an hour-long webinar hosted by the Foundation Center where we’ll take some of these concepts to the next level! Click here to register. The webinar is $49, but all funds raised are donated to the Foundation Center to continue providing first-class resources and training.

Related Posts:

>>How to ask your board members for year-end gifts
>>7 simple ways to engender fondness among your supporters for yourself and your nonprofit’s cause

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