WP Simple Pay Blog

Stripe Tutorials, Tips, and Resources for WordPress to Accept Payments

How to Win Back Your Lapsed Donors in 2024



Last updated on

Are you wondering how to bring lapsed donors back to your nonprofit organization?

It’s common for nonprofits to experience drops in donor retention over time for various reasons. Thankfully, with a few simple steps, you can recover them.

In this article, we’ll share how to win back donors who have stopped engaging with your mission.

Why Is Donor Retention So Important?

There are many ways to define a lapsed donor. You may use unique conditions connected to your specific organization to determine whether a donor is lapsed.

With that being said, a lapsed donor is someone who hasn’t donated to your nonprofit group in a given period – usually one or two years.

While acquiring new donors contributes to your organization’s ability to thrive, retaining those same donors for the long haul is critical to the overall success and longevity of your cause.

Currently, the average recapture rate for lapsed donors is around 5%, meaning once your donors lapse within 12 months, there is a very small chance they’ll donate again.

This is why having a retention strategy for your nonprofit is so important. The primary goal should be to retain your donors because it’s a lot easier to get current donors to give than it is to bring lapsed ones back.

Why Do Donors Stop Giving?

There are several reasons why donors lapse. Once you get a better understanding of why your specific donors aren’t returning to your site to give again, you can tailor your efforts to reengage your lapsed donors.

For example, if your donors don’t receive a “thank you” message for their donation, or even worse, don’t receive a donation confirmation e-mail at all, they’re likely to turn to a nonprofit they feel is more deserving of their contribution.

We recommend doing some research to identify who your lapsed donors are and then create a plan to reengage with them based on your findings.

Aside from that, here are a few more common reasons why donors haven’t returned to give more.

  • Can’t afford another donation.
  • Believe other organizations are more deserving.
  • The organization provides poor service or communication.
  • Never got thanked for donating.
  • Forgot about their initial donation.
  • Don’t think the charity needs their support anymore.

Research shows that donors remain loyal and continue to donate to causes when they perceive the organization to be effective in its mission, know what to expect from each interaction with the organization, feel appreciated, and feel that he or she is part of an important movement.

Luckily, aside from a donor’s inability to donate again, you can provide a quick solution to each of the complaints mentioned above with the right communication and messaging.

Lapsed donors are inevitable, no matter how hard you work to prevent them. Nevertheless, lapsed donors are still an important opportunity to collect donations.

You can use the following steps listed below to win back lapsed donors and reach your fundraising goals.

Step 1. Identify Lapsed Donors

Naturally, before you can take steps to reacquire old donors, you have to identify them.

First, define what a lapsed donor means for your organization. You’ll need to decide what counts as a lapsed donor.

For example, while someone who donated $5,000 every month may lapse at six months, another who only donated $100 once may be considered lapsed at a year.

Next, you can use your fundraising software or CRM to identify people who don’t meet your criteria. If donors become lapsed after one year, isolate those donors who haven’t sent a payment in more than a year. Then, export their email addresses and add them to a new email list.

For more information, see our guide on How to Collect More Donations With Email Campaigns.

Step 2: Determine Why They Lapsed

Once you know who lapsed, it’s time to find out why. Admittedly, this isn’t an easy step. You’ll have to gather as much information as you can and make some reasonable assumptions.

First, consider anything you changed within your organization. For instance, you may see donors lapse soon after you adjusted your mission or narrowed down your cause. Or, you might see people lapse once you stopped your email marketing campaigns. You could assume that these changes lead to the lapse.

Next, reach out to some of them by email or phone. Thank them for their past donations, mention you noticed they haven’t contributed in a while, and then ask why without pressuring them to donate again. Be clear that you want information, rather than money, so they answer honestly.

Depending on the size of your lapsed donor list and their willingness to respond, you can also try sending a survey. Ask them why they’re no longer giving and what would convince them to give again. The question, “Did we do something wrong?” can be powerful.

These approaches won’t tell you everything. But it’s a good step toward understanding why donors lapse. You’ll need this information when you try to win them back.

Step 3: Create Lapsed Donor Win-Back Campaigns

A win-back campaign is just what it sounds like; communication with the goal of bringing a lapsed donor back to your cause.

Win-back campaigns can take a lot of different forms. Many nonprofits create multiple campaigns based on the type of donor, their donation history, and the organization’s mission.

For example, it makes sense to simply email a $10 donor, but a $10 million donor might get a personal visit.

If you only have a donor’s email address, you’re limited to email campaigns. If you have his or her phone number (and permission to call), a quick chat might be worth your time. Your win-back campaign could even be a simple letter or a series of emails.

Here are some tips to help you craft your messaging. Make sure you set up triggers in your email marketing tool, such as Drip or ActiveCampaign, that end your win-back campaign if a lapsed donor donates. You don’t want to keep sending them “please donate again” messages after they contribute.

Personalize Your Communications

No one likes receiving mass emails. Avoid the appearance of a blanket approach by personalizing your communications by using the donor’s name, references to past projects he or she was a part of, and reminding them how much they gave.

Say “Thank You” and “We Miss You”

However you contact your lapsed donors, make sure some of the first words they hear are “Thank you for your previous donations” and “We miss your support.” Explain how much their personal support and financial contributions mean to your cause. Here’s some good phrasing:

  • “We miss your moral support!”
  • “We haven’t heard from you since April 2018.”
  • “We’re counting on your support for our Winter Food Drive.”
  • “We miss having you as part of our family!”

In many cases, this is all it takes to reactivate a donor, especially if they simply forgot to make their usual contribution.

Share the Impact of Your Work

Presumably, your past donors gave because they support your cause and mission. Leverage that by reminding them of your organization’s work and the people you help. This helps them reconnect emotionally. If you’re communicating over email, send pictures and videos of your work. If you’re communicating by phone, tell stories of your recent successes.

Use a Custom Donation Page

Your lapsed donors have unique needs, so it’s best to serve them a unique landing page. Don’t use a generic donation page on your site. Instead, create something new that acknowledges you haven’t heard from them in a while, but you’re happy they’re back.

On your donation page, you don’t need to introduce the donor to your cause. They already have this information. Instead, dive deep into the complaints you uncovered when you determined why they lapsed.

For example, let’s say several donors complained that they didn’t understand how you used their contributions to support the cause. You should address this complaint on your donation page by showing them how you spend every dollar or sharing testimonials from people who you supported through those donations.

Ask for Other Types of Contribution

As you know, cash isn’t the only way people contribute to your cause. In many cases, it’s smarter to ask your lapsed donor to contribute in another way. For instance, you might ask lapsed donors to volunteer at an event, sign a petition, or help promote the cause through their social media channels. You can always ask them for money at a later date.

Additionally, make it clear that you don’t expect the same gift as last time. Since their financial situation may have changed, it’s smart to let them know you’re perfectly happy to accept a small donation. Just make sure to start from a position of thankfulness: “We understand times are hard for everyone and you may not be able to donate as much as last time. Please remember that you can still make a difference for our cause with a small donation of just $10 or $20.”

Make Reactivation Quick, Simple, and Easy

Asking for money because you haven’t received any in a while is a bit impersonal. A great way to bring back lapsed donors is to pair your reactivation efforts with a different campaign. For example, instead of asking for a $20 donation, ask them to sponsor a runner at your upcoming 5K race.

With WP Simple Pay, the best Stripe payments plugin for WordPress, you can easily accept payments on your site for registrations, donations, fundraisers, and more. One of the best parts about the plugin is that you can use it to encourage your lapsed donors to sign up for automatic recurring donations in case they forget to donate every week, month, or year.

You can also set up suggested donation amounts to give your lapsed donors more options. To learn how, check out our detailed guide on how to use suggested donation amounts to drive conversions.

Don’t ask your lapsed donors to navigate a complex process to contribute again. Make donating simple and hassle-free. Your donation page should offer multiple ways to give: one-time and recurring donations, suggested amounts, custom amounts, and multiple payment method options.

Step 4: Create Alerts for Lapsed Donors

After sending your win-back campaign, your last step is to set up some kind of notification to alert you to lapsed donors in the future. This might be a simple notification when someone reaches the “lapsed” qualification in your fundraising software, sales tool, or CRM.

Depending on the features of your fundraising software, you can also create automations that instantly reach out to donors as soon as they become lapsed. Apply some of the previous steps to that communication.

WP Simple Pay’s advanced drag-and-drop payment form builder has a built-in integration that allows you to set up automatic triggers and notifications for your donation forms. You can also use it to add new donors to your mailing list, create a new WordPress user account once someone donates, and more.

There you have it! We hope this article has helped you learn how to win back lapsed donors. Getting lapsed donors to come back and then retaining them is critical to your organization’s mission and growth. As always, test your methods and optimize over time.

If you liked this article, you might also want to check out our guide: 7 Tips to Drive Traffic to Your Donation Forms.

What are you waiting for? Get started with WP Simple Pay today!

To read more articles like this, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Start Accepting Payments Today

Start accepting one-time and recurring payments or donations on your WordPress website.