It may be time to move on.This question was posed to Jeff and me: “what do I do with a donor who hasn’t given in three years?”
Our usual answer is: “Move on to the next donor.”
Here’s why we say that.
In major gift fundraising, where only one out of every three donors who meet your major gift criteria will actually engage with you, you are constantly working to find those donors who will engage.
Which means that, more often than not (at least two-thirds of the time) you are getting a “no” in some fashion – either silence from the donor or an actual “not interested” or “I don’t want to participate at this time.”
So a donor who does not give for three years is actually telling you “no.” If that is true, why would you try to work with them? And why wouldn’t you use your valuable and scarce time to talk to and work with a donor who does want to engage?
You’d move on to the next engaged donor. That’s the simple answer.
We have seen situations where because of a life circumstance – sickness, divorce, death, business downturn – a donor does not give for a season. So if you know that that is the case, then maybe you should go ahead and reach out to see if they are ready to re-engage.
But here’s the thing: you only have so much time. And there are other donors on your donor file who, through their giving, are proving they are with you and want to engage. Talk to them. Go with them. Move your gaze from the donor who has not given in years to the donors who are with you now.
Now, if you believe that this donor who hasn’t given in three years will actually re-engage, because you know why they stopped giving and the reason they stopped is a life circumstance that has nothing to do with your cause, then give it a shot! Talk to them about how the program or category they gave to three years ago is doing, and how much difference their giving made.
And talk to them about how there’s still a problem now, and how their gift today will solve that problem.
Do this knowing that it’s a long-shot and you will (likely) not hear from them, because it’s been three years. That’s a long time to keep saying “no,” which means that their answer to your current query will also likely be no.
Or skip all these long-shot possibilities, and move on to that current donor who is giving now.
Your call.
Jeff and I would move on.