Convert Lapsed P2P Donors into Engaged Donors

Nonprofit organizations count on their participants to go out each year and cultivate new supporters in order to make their peer-to-peer fundraising a big success. And in doing so, they bring in new donors to the organization that now have a relationship with you because of a friend or family member. However, not all previous event participants join up again and even if they do, they may solicit new folks instead of reaching out to previous donors. In either case, donors that don’t give to a participant the next year are considered lapsed and many organization don’t do anything about it – except hope that participants will ask again in a future year.

But there is a better way for your organization to reach out to these donors, keep them engaged with your mission, and make it easier for them to help you grow your revenue.

Don’t let them go

One national walk program I worked with wanted to determine the best way to engage lapsed walk donors – folks who did not make a donation even after the next event season came and went. For this organization, lapsed walk donors had never been previously solicited to directly by the organization. The organization wanted to develop an approach to convert those lapsed walk donors into direct donors to the organization and decided to pilot an email program to test what worked and what didn’t.

The pilot tested two key areas:

  1. Content – mission stories that focused on the people served by the organization, mission stories that focused on specific programs, or content featuring program statistics
  2. Frequency – the email testing plan included four tracks with communication over a two-week period to test frequency

Key Learnings

The pilot emails had an average open rate of 13.3 percent which was higher than the benchmark open rate for this organization’s vertical. This result validated that the lapsed donor audience was willing to be engaged through email with the organization. The average gift from the email series was $77. While this amount was lower than the organization’s overall average gift, it was significant enough to demonstrate the value of this audience and set a benchmark for the organization to work against in the future. The test also showed that content was most effective when the series included a mix of the three content areas instead of single content focus. Finally, although the test did demonstrate that a high number of emails was required for the best conversion, the unsubscribe rate did not increase over the course of the email series indicating that lapsed donors were willing to receive a high number of emails as part of a campaign.

Your Next Steps

While our pilot walk program showed one way an organization can engage lapsed peer-to-peer donors to increase donor engagement and revenue, it is important for you to test what works best for your organization and audience. However, the opportunity to build effective ongoing engagement with a list that might otherwise be going unused will be worth it!