Hitting the reset button


Today marked a new day in my life. Friday was my last day at Boys & Girls Clubs of America and today was my first day as the owner of “The Healthy Non-Profit LLC”.  My new small consulting practice will focus on non-profit management and resource development with a mission of helping non-profit organizations get healthy because “those we serve deserve sustainability”.

I decided to strike out on this adventurous path because the last five years “on the road” helping local Boys & Girls Club affiliates build organizational capacity has been very “unhealthy” for me personally.  So much so, that I now have 50 pounds to lose while trying to build my consulting practice. As I struggled with naming my company, I came to realize that my new life goals aligned very well with my life’s work of helping  non-profit organizations find a healthy place to live.

So, today I “hit the reset button” in life.

While on one of my two healthy neighborhood walks today, I started thinking about lapsed donors and how non-profit organizations might be able to “hit the reset button” on those expiring donor relationships. Once back in the house, I dug up an old email from an “Ask the Expert” email I once received pertaining to an organization I was working with on re-engaging lapsed donors.  Here was the advice that provided:

Regarding lapsed donors and “purging” your database, we have seen studies that show a 5-10% reactivation rate of donors 1-5 years lapsed.  That said, we think that any donors 5 or less years lapsed, especially those who have several years of prior giving history, would be worthwhile prospects for solicitation. 

You might consider sending an individualized mailing specifically targeting lapsed donors and emphasize why funds are needed now more than ever.  To make a determination on how to reach out to your lapsed donors, we recommend taking a look at the source of the name (how was it acquired).  For example, if the past gift was the result of an acquisition mailing, and the donor hasn’t given since, you may want to treat this person as a new donor and send them an acquisition mail piece.  If however, a lapsed donor’s name originally came from a board member, made several gifts, but has not given in a couple of years, you may want to make a face to face visit or place a phone call.  If calling, you may say something along the lines of “we have not heard from you in a while, would like the opportunity to tell you what we have been doing, when would be a good time to talk?”

I thought the advice to be a solid “hit the reset button” strategy, which is why I decided to share it with you today. However, I am curious if anyone has used other strategies and if so how effective they were.

Please share your thoughts and expert advice because we all need to hit the reset button from time-to-time and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Right?

Here is to your health ~ Erik

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About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on May 23, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Barb Reynolds

    right. 🙂

  2. Natalie Harding

    I agree. I wish you luck on your adventure! I was Director of Resource Development at B & G Club and I learned alot that year! I have worked with Non-Profits organizations for the last 20 years. I have worked developing programs, sustainability measures, managing large fundraisers, and grant writing. In my opinion, the donors of today need to be reached differently than we reached them yesterday. We are a want-it-now society, if-your-not-right-here-I-don’t-see-you place and whats-in-it-for me era. Strategies are different, I believe that Cause Marketing joined with Social Media is the place to find and retain donors today. We have to provide consistant messaging to our donors who will in turn provide consistant messages for our cause.

    • Thanks, Natalie. I agree but I also think there is room to blend old school cultivation and stewardship activities with newer ePhilanthropy and social media practices. I think we need to take into account how individual donors wish to be communicated with. However, your points are right on target and appreciated. Thanks!

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