Lapsed Donors - A Hidden Gold Mine

Dear Scott, I have a giving partner who gave faithfully every month, but I have not received a gift in six months. Do you have a standard letter I could send asking him to re-start?
— Muddled in Manila!
© The Navigators

© The Navigators

How would you reply to this question? 

Too many missionaries consider lapsed donors as dead—but lapsed does not mean dead! Reclaiming a lapsed donor involves one simple step:

Contact the partner personally right away!

Don’t wait six months! When a monthly giving partner’s gifts go missing two consecutive months, immediately connect with her. If an annual giver goes 14 months without a gift, contact him. If you say nothing, what will they think?

  • You didn’t miss the gifts
  • You don’t care

Don’t simply send a letter saying, “I notice you stopped giving. Please re-start.” This is insensitive if they have lost a job or had a death in the family. Phone or face-to-face is best, but text or use private social media if necessary.

Will they be offended? No. Often donors don’t realize they have skipped their giving. The phone call gives you an opportunity to enhance your friendship.

I once phoned a monthly donor who had lapsed three months. I hesitated because I had never met the spouse. It was sweaty palms time as I dialed. On the third ring that spouse answered! He said they stopped giving because he had lost his job! 

We chatted for 30 minutes and I listened and prayed with him. The next day I sent a note saying I would check for contacts in his occupational field. A year later he was employed, and they rejoined at a higher amount.

Here is a script you can adapt for your situation.


Reason for the call

“Jim, I’m calling to thank you for your monthly support. But I’ve noticed that your [$100 gift], which usually comes so faithfully, has not come the last two months…Is everything okay?


If Donor Says…

"We didn’t get a receipt, don’t know how to send next gift.”

“Okay, I’ll [send you a duplicate receipt and envelope] [text you my bank account numbers] so you can start again.”

“We forgot!”

“Would it help if I were to send you our standing order bank draft giving form? It’s simple. You’ll still get receipted, but you won’t have to remember to send a gift 12 times each year.”

“Lost my job!”

“I’m so sorry, how did it happen? (Listen well.)


Summarize action:

Get involved with your people

  • “I’ll send you the standing order form, and I’ll watch for your next gift by the 20th of next month. Thank you for being part of our  team.”
  • “Thank you for agreeing to re-start your support. You have my bank information so I’ll double check the account next month.”


Voice Mail:

“Jim, this [name] calling. Hope you are well. I need to talk with you this week. I’ll call back again.”


Finally, ask yourself the question: If you were the donor who “lapsed” how would you like to be treated?

There is no “magic letter” to reclaim lapsed donors. Get involved with your people. Study your records each month to know if you have lapsed friends. They are hidden gold!

Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds.
— Proverbs 27:23