Re-engaging Donors: The Time is Now!!

Like many of you I spent the first quarter of the year getting ready for April 15th.  As I was pulling all my receipts and necessary documents together for my accountant I realized that perhaps it was time to re-think my philanthropic intentions for 2011.

We all remember back in 2008 where donors had to make the tough decisions in cutting back their donations or to the number of charities they were supporting.   I know I was one of those donors.  We went from a household earning two incomes to one not to mention the decline in real estate and investments.  Instead of 6 organizations we cut back to 3.  Of course non-profits went through their cut-backs and perhaps limited the number of mailings and other forms of contact to reduce expenditures.

I am now thinking about increasing the number of charities I support.  I am positive there are a large number of households thinking the same thing.  This really got me to thinking that while re-engaging donors has always been important that now more than ever non-profits need to put their attention on looking at who their occasional or lapsed donors are.   We are seeing signs that the recession is ending and while we still may have a way to go, we need to start grabbing the attention of occasional/lapsed donors.  If you don’t I am sure there will be other organizations who will be happy to steal your prospects away.  As a donor, looking to expand the number of non-profit organizations I am supporting I will begin to think about those where my giving has lapsed and the institution that grabs my attention first is more likely to get that gift than relying solely on me to re-engage.

Start the data mining within your database and using variables like last gift date, number of gifts, constituency, and for those who have done modeling the suggested ask amount and annual giving likelihood.  Ask yourself questions such as who could be our future high-end annual fund donors or major gift prospects.  Who needs to be re-introduced to the organization?  Be sure to make your donors stretch; don’t be afraid to ask for a higher amount than their past giving reflects.   Be sure not only to ask for the gift but, inform them about the extraordinary changes that are happening.  Be bold and don’t be afraid to color outside of the lines and be inventive which will once again re-engage these individuals.