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Inside the Mind of a Lapsed Donor

Why does one donor quit giving to a ministry after donating only once, while another quits donating after giving many gifts?

This topic was the central focus of our latest research study with Campbell Rinker on lapsed donors: Unlocking the Donor’s Heart — which you can read about in a previous blog, 5 Ways to Keep Your Donors from Lapsing.”

Since then, we have analyzed the results, and we’ve found even more intriguing discoveries about keeping the connection between your lapsed donors’ hearts and the mission and vision God has given your ministry. Some of these peak additional findings — also available in our brand-new whitepaper entitled Give & Gone: Why Donors Depart — were:

  1. Lapsed Donors Still Like You
  2. The data tells us that lapsed donors frequently are not unhappy with the ministry, its work for the Kingdom, or how it interacts with them. The reasons they’ve stopped giving are often not just about what the ministry does or doesn’t do.

  3. Donors Want Integrity
  4. If a ministry were to choose one area other than mission effectiveness to emphasize among new donors, it would be integrity. We discovered that lapsed donors tended to be slightly less satisfied compared to active donors with how the ministry:

    • Recognizes their past giving,
    • Informs them how their donations are spent,
    • Communicates using an appropriate tone,
    • Thanks them effectively, and
    • Offers them some choices for how the ministry contacts them.
  5. Keep Donors Informed and Thanked
  6. Convincing a lapsed donor to give again may not rest so much on impact or passion; it could be about reminding that donor how long it has been since she last gave.

  7. Old Donors Need More Details More Often, Younger Donors Need More Transparency
  8. Older donors are more sensitive to a ministry using their gifts only for the intended purposes, and to the priority of keeping the ministry’s costs low. Younger donors are much more likely than their elders to prioritize transparency in the donor-charity relationship.

  9. Media Matters: How Do They Get the Information?
  10. Whatever media channel first reached a donor, she is likely to continue paying attention to that media channel more than others.

  11. Female and Male Donors Are Not the Same

Women were significantly more sensitive to the ministry being ethical in its business practices, while men saw transparency as most important. Women were more likely to pay attention to postal mail and television, while men paid more attention to email and personal phone calls.

If you’re interested in learning more from the study and how to make the most of your ministry’s fundraising strategies with lapsed donors, feel free to get in touch with me at I’d love to hear from you!