Loving Lapsed Donors

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it” (Philippians 4:10).

The Philippian believers faithfully supported Paul from his early days in ministry on his mission to share the gospel with the Gentiles. He appreciated their partnership, “it was good of you to share in my troubles” (Phil. 4:15). In fact, they were the only church who supported him (see Phil. 4:15). More than once they sent him gifts to meet his needs. For some reason, their support lapsed but finally they were able to give again. Paul wrote the Philippians to thank them for renewing their concern for him. How can you re-engage donors who’ve stopped giving?

LYBUNT (pronounced “lie-bunt”) are donors who gave Last Year But Unfortunately Not This. SYBUNT (pronounced “sigh-bunt”) refers to donors who have given Some Year But Unfortunately Not This. Call your lapsed donors and love on them, “We’ve noticed you haven’t given in a while. If you don’t mind, could you let us know why? Your feedback can help us better serve donors like you in the future.”

No Opportunity
When donors lapse, we immediately assume they’ve lost interest in our ministry. Perhaps that’s true, but in this situation the Philippians wanted to give but had no opportunity. We tend to look at lapsed donor reports without considering why our donors have stopped giving. Perhaps they are struggling with their health, experienced a financial downturn, or simply overlooked your appeal.

How did Paul know the Philippians were concerned, but couldn’t give? He prayed for them regularly, perhaps he heard news from the brothers and sisters traveling to and from Philippi. When your donors don’t hear from you, they forget you. It boils down to a communication problem—out of sight out of mind. Lapsed donors present you with an opportunity to reconnect.

You can be notified when someone on your email list unsubscribes. It’s a good indication that a donor may be losing interest. How do you respond? One ministry emails their unsubscribed donors asking if anything is wrong. It seems a little big brotherish, but you may rewin a friend. Here’s how one person responded, “To be honest (I regret to admit this, ha) I was mindlessly just cleaning up some email when your message came through, so I promise it was not an overly intentional unsubscribe on my part.”

Renewing Lapsed donors
When you’ve tried to reach a lapsed donor but haven’t connected, write a handwritten note thanking them for their contributions and the impact they have made. Express your hope that they will join you in the future and how deeply appreciative you are of everything they’ve given.

Response: Father, forgive me for not making the extra effort to reach out to my lapsed donors. Prompt me to show love and concern for their well-being.

Think About This: People stop giving because they feel distant. Paul wrote, “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me.” The Philippian believers weren’t giving to a ministry or a cause, they were giving to a person. How can you become a real, live person to your donors?

Have a Spirit-led week!


Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising and Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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