Reactivating lapsed donors is a positive lift to your donor revenue. Not only are these donors familiar with your work, but they have already indicated an interest in supporting your mission with their past gifts. They are what many in the industry call “low-hanging fruit.” Lapsed donors cost less to acquire and are excellent prospects for continued giving. Here are five simple steps to follow to reactivate lapsed donors:

1. Thank the Donor for Their Past Support

The first step is the easiest and most important — thank your lapsed donor for their support. When donors give a portion of their hard-earned paycheck to a cause outside of themselves, it means they have a desire to make a difference. And showing gratitude for their generosity can go a long way in making them feel valued, empowered, and confident in their choice. Remind your lapsed donor of these warm feelings by thanking them for their past support.  

2. Tell a Story of Need to Illustrate the Work Your Organization Does

Refamiliarize your donor with the work of your organization by telling a story of need. Most likely, your lapsed donor gave in the past because they felt called to make a difference or improve a situation. Share about a specific need, what your organization is doing to address that need, and how their support is crucial in fulfilling this need. You will have a better chance at connecting with your donor if you tell a story about a single person who needs the donor’s help. Your story should not only reignite your donor’s passion to re-engage, but also give them confidence that your organization is doing the necessary work to make to bring about positive results.

3. Ask for Support for a Specific Project Related to Past Giving

Many organizations forget that when it comes to lapsed donors, they are already one step ahead of the fundraising game. That’s because their lapsed donor file is a treasure trove of information. When reaching out to a lapsed donor, take advantage of having access to this vital information. Look up your donor’s giving history and ask them to support a specific project related to their past financial gifts. More often than not, your donor still cares about the cause they supported in the past. 

4. Connect the Financial Ask to Solving the Problem Identified in the Story

Most donors want to know that their money is being used responsibly by your organization and is actually making a difference. Inspiring this confidence in a donor is especially important as you get ready to ask for a financial gift. Since you have already shared a story of need with the donor, an easy way to do this is to connect your financial ask to solving the problem you identified in the story. In other words, align the donor’s desires with a successful outcome. A simple way to do this is to let them know what their specific donation amount can make possible. For example: $10 will feed two families in Ethiopia. Or perhaps, $30 will help 10 students in India attend school. When they see exactly what is possible, they will feel inspired to be a part of the solution through their donation.

[BONUS] 5. Send the Donor a Follow Up Note Explaining How Their Donation Was Used

Just as thanking your donor for their past support is crucial to re-engagement, thanking your donor after their most recent gift is just as important in creating a loyal supporter. When you send a donor a follow-up note to thank them for their donation, explain how their donation was used. Share the results of how you used their gift and ask them to join you in celebrating the impact they’ve made possible. You can do this by sharing an impact story or a testimonial. Doing this will give your donor a feeling of accomplishment and it will inspire confidence for future giving.

Example Fundraising Letter for Lapsed Donors

Dear XXXX,

We haven’t heard from you in awhile and we miss having you as part of our nonprofit family!

You’ve been a loyal past supporter for [organization name] and we want to thank you for the investment you’ve made to help [organization cause].

But we’re worried because haven’t heard from you in awhile. We want to reconnect with you today to let you know…

We need you now more than ever.

There are still [current need]. 

[Share a story of need/impact]

But with YOUR help, we can change this.

Donate online today to help [current need].

You and your support are crucial to [successful outcome].

Your gift of:

  • $5 provides [XXXX]
  • $20 provides [XXXX]
  • $35 equips [XXXX]
  • $50 purchases [XXXX]
  • Any amount you choose can go towards our greatest need


You can also feel confident that your gift will be put to work right away as we will continue to share about the great work being done because of your investment.

(Name), we sincerely hope you give us the chance to welcome you back to our donor family by making a donation online today.

Without you — and many other friends we count on for support each year — we couldn’t continue the work we do. 

We thank you for your compassion and hope you join us in our work by taking action today!

With much gratitude,