Lapsed Gift Letter: Overview and Tips

Do you know “the state of your flock?”  Do you check your giving report enough to notice when some giving partners miss a month or two, to six?

There are lots of reasons that giving partners miss—a lost receipt reminder, they don’t know The Navigators’ address, they forget.  There are also more serious reasons—sickness, family crisis, a lost job.

The wise staff will notice when a donor misses and will call or write to find out more.  This contact may lead to reinstated giving, and it may lead to a golden opportunity for you to minister to your friend.  Or both!

This account from Nav staff Jack Blanch sheds more light on the subject.  View the sample letter in this section to guide you in reconnecting with some of your folks.

 

CONNECTING WITH Lapsed Donors—Improving Friendships, Too!

Jack Blanch, Metro Mission

I was traveling to a Navigator finance meeting with the phone numbers of my lapsed donors in hand. I hardly knew what to expect. In thirty years as Nav staff, I'd been confused about donors who dropped off. I didn't know what to do with them, so I usually did nothing…except wait. If they hadn't resumed giving after a year, I assumed they were no longer interested. Contacting lapsed donors felt pushy. I didn't want to pressure them, and I didn't want to be perceived as insensitive. So here I was, headed to the meeting, feeling skeptical there was a solution.

At the meeting, Scott Morton, then the Director of Donor Development, put a telephone in the middle of the room, picked up the receiver, and dialed one of his lapsed donors. I was curious to see what would happen.

Scott found out his donor was going through a hard time. Scott listened, asked questions, and affirmed him saying he wouldn't expect any more support until the difficult time was over. I was amazed. I'd seen non-offensive donor ministry right before my eyes!

Next, it was our turn. We were to call our donors and say something like: "Joe, I've noticed that your regular support has not been coming through my account. I thought I'd call to see if everything is all right." With fear and trembling, I tried it.

Here's what I discovered from my calls that night and in the following weeks:

John's ($40/month, missed six months) family was preoccupied with moving into a new home. He was glad I called and promised to start giving again.

Marsha ($20/month, missed seven months) had been on medical disability leave. She promised to restart as soon as she returned to work.

Keith ($30/month, missed four months) and his wife considered stopping their support to me and increasing their church support. I encouraged them to do whatever they felt they should. They decided to resume giving to me and doubled their monthly support!

Susan ($100/month, missed two months) didn't get a receipt after her last gift and was holding the support money not knowing what to do. I had The Navigators send her a duplicate receipt and gift envelope, and she resumed giving.

Earl ($20/month, missed eight months) didn't want to continue giving, but wanted to pray for us and receive our newsletter.

Val gave his $75 monthly pledge twice in 12 months. As we talked, it became evident he was having marital problems. I visited Val to encourage him. After our visit, I realized he wanted to give, but the amount was too much for his circumstances. I encouraged him to reduce his pledge to a manageable amount. He committed to $50 per month and sent his first gift.

Dennis ($100/month, missed 18 months) had given for 20 years. I couldn't remember if he told me he was stopping or not. I was embarrassed to phone him because so much time had passed. I concluded that since all the other calls had gone well, I'd call and ask if he would consider resuming their giving. Dennis was happy I called and said, "You led me to Christ, and I have felt uneasy about not giving to you. We'll start again. I can't tell you the amount because of a confusing business situation at the moment. Give me a couple of weeks to figure out how much."

I reclaimed $200-$300 in monthly support and renewed some great friendships. As a result of these conversations, I realized I was neglecting my lapsed donors. I now contact all of my donors who have missed more than three months. They do not feel "bothered." I see it now as an opportunity to participate in my donors' lives, and they appreciate my interest.

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