Is It Okay to Delete Inactive Donors From Your Database to Keep Costs Down?

By Steven Shattuck

Nope, not really.

But I get it; this is tough.

Aside from instances when a constituent notifies you that they are stopping their support and no longer want to hear from you, it can be very difficult to decide when to cut an inactive constituent loose or when to hold on to them.

Two years of inactivity? Five years?

What about what they did prior to lapsing? Are all 2+ year lapsed donors created equal?

When you combine that with the fact that many of the donor management software providers charge by the amount of constituents in your database (usually in ranges like 0-1000, 1000-5000, etc.), fundraisers are often faced with an ever-growing database that carries with it a rising cost without a comparable revenue increase.

Because of this, it can be tempting to constantly prune your list in order to prevent your organization from jumping to the next pricing bracket.

But this is never a good reason to delete inactive constituents.

Instead, be proactive about re-activating lapsed donors. Here’s how to get started:

Don’t delete. Segment.

Rather than writing these people off completely, we are going to separate our lapsed donors (people who haven’t given in 2+ years) and do several things with this group:

  • investigate what led up to the lapse
  • verify that you have their correct contact info
  • steward them

Let’s go though each one by one.

First, audit what led up to the lapse.

A good first step is to identify:

  • the recency and frequency of their previous giving
  • the gift acquisition channel

An easy sub-segment of your 2+ year lapsed donors is to identify how frequently they gave before lapsing. Did they:

  • give you one gift and never gave again?
  • give to you annual for several years and stopped giving?
  • were they a monthly donor who cancelled their recurring gift?

Each should trigger a unique stewardship plan, with your one-gift-only donors taking priority.

For first time donors, dig in deeper to discover how that first gift was acquired and how they were thanked (if they were thanked at all). Pay special attention to two channels:

  • Peer-to-peer
  • Memorial

These have, by-far, the lowest first-time donor retention rates. You can find some specific ideas for retaining these donors here.

Second, append their contact information.

Investing in data services that verify the contact information of the constituents in your donor databases can be pay dividends that more than make up for the upfront cost of the service.

Two no-brainers to run annually are an NCOA and a deceased suppression processing:

  • NCOA – Your donor might have simply moved, and is no longer getting information from you.
  • Deceased Suppression Processing – Your donor might have died, and that’s why the aren’t responding to you.

A third option would be an email or phone number append. If you want to invest a little more, you can verify that you also have the lapse donor’s correct email address and phone number.

Third, stewardship them!

Once you’ve segmented and verified their contact info, you’re ready for impactful stewardship.

The worst thing you can do is keep these lapsed donors in your bulk mailing list so that they get the same appeals that all of your other active Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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