September 20, 2023
Nonprofit Technology & Fundraising Blog
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When you run a nonprofit, you probably depend on the goodwill of generous donors to help you achieve your organization’s goals. While you may or may not rely on donations to get by with your budget basics, it’s always helpful to have a team of committed people behind you, willing to put some extra money towards a new project or initiative.
Unfortunately, some years are better than others. When doing the books to see how your development programs have fared, you may already be aware of the most common monthly fundraising reports. But to stave off donor retention, you’ll need to get familiar with an annual LYBUNT report.
LYBUNT is a handy acronym that describes a group of your past donors. It stands for “Last Year But Unfortunately Not This,” meaning that this is a group of people who donated in the past but have since dropped off of your rolls. A long LYBUNT list is both good and bad. Obviously, having lots of LYBUNT donors means that your total income could be down, which endangers your programs and projects. On the bright side, however, past donors are more likely to give again — especially if you give them a friendly nudge in the right direction.
If you discover you have a sizable list of lapsed donors, try reaching out to them in the following ways to see if you can re-engage them and get your cause back on their radar screen:
The first step is to find out why your donors have disappeared. Is it a lack of interest, or did your outreach efforts last year somehow fall through the cracks? Knowledge is power, so figuring out what went wrong can be the first step in getting your donors back on track — it will also put you out in front of your donors again.
Instead of including them in a standard email blast, see if you can write a personal note or email instead. You can be honest and say that you’ve missed them and were wondering if they’d consider giving again, or you could simply offer an update on the work you’re doing and thank them for their past donation. Either way, you’ll get back on their minds.
A breakfast or open house that showcases all of your recent good work can serve to highlight your organization and remind donors of what they saw in you in the first place. When people see where their money has gone, they are often willing to donate again.
Tailor your donation request — whether by email, snail mail or phone — to the lapsed donor. Thank them for their past support, and mention specifically what their gift helped you accomplish. Then ask them to renew their relationship with your organization by giving again.
Can you say it with a song? (“I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 comes to mind!) What about a video highlighting your successes? Can you get artwork from kids or testimonials from families you’ve helped? The more creative you get, the more likely you are to stand out from the crowd and remind your donors why they liked you in the first place.
While it’s probably not possible to get every one of your lapsed donors back, you can reignite the passion of many of them if you just reach out. Try one or more of these tips to get started, and next year your LYBUNT list will be a whole lot shorter!