December 11, 2023 Doug Shaw

Douglas Shaw


Puzzling, isn’t it, how a faithful donor to your organization just stops giving? But perhaps even more puzzling is how often a “lapsed” donor doesn’t even know they are lapsed!

I first learned this while sitting behind a mirrored wall during a focus group.

Our company had been acquiring a significant number of donors for an organization dedicated to helping homeless people in one of the largest metropolitan areas in California. But we had a growing problem. Even though our client’s donor file was growing, many of the long-time supporters of this great cause were beginning to lapse in their giving.

Now, this was a concern because we had worked so hard to acquire and cultivate relationships with these good folks, but apparently we were doing something to offend them. Or were we? We really didn’t know! All we knew for certain was they had been faithful donors for many years, but they had recently stopped giving. We had to find out why. Hence the focus group.

Here’s what we learned . . .

  • Many of the donors in the group didn’t realize they had stopped giving (they thought their spouse was still responding to appeals)
  • Several donors thought they gave more often now than ever
  • Some donors felt like their gifts were too small and not making a difference because they weren’t receiving a thank-you letter or a receipt (someone at the organization had decided to not acknowledge gifts under $25.00)
  • Others had decided to give to other causes instead of our client because they received newsletters and thank-you calls from the other organizations informing them of how their gifts were making a difference (our client wasn’t doing this yet)

The good news is we were able to use this very helpful information and take corrective action right away!

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