When I first started working in the world of development, I had never heard of a LYBUNT.

To be honest, I was probably ten years into my career when the term first came up in conversation.  It wasn’t until I began working with organizations that had donor software, more than a few hundred donors and an actual fundraising plan that the term surfaced.

For those of you who might be new to the field, or like me, working in very small organizations, a LYBUNT is a donor who gave ‘last year, but not this year.’

Most donor software has a standard report for running LYBUNTS so you can see in real-time who has already lapsed from your donor base.

Why should you want to know who is on your LYBUNT list?

1. Knowing your LYBUNTS as they occur allows you an opportunity to reach out to the donor and reconnect, see how they are, make an ask, update an address or respond to the reason they have ‘lapsed’ promptly.

2. Following up with LYBUNTS quickly may recapture donors and dollars which will keep your Donor Retention Rate as high as possible, and cause you less work in recruiting new donors to replace them.

*did you know the Donor Retention Rate in the United States averages 43%?! That is shocking!

Think about it. For every 100 donors obtained, organizations are losing 57 of them. Imagine only retaining 43 of every 100 donors you secured every year!  Yikes!!!

For me, it always made more sense to stay on top of the donors I had, reel them back in if I could and then look for new prospective donors to continue building my capacity.

3. Keeping up with your LYBUNTS regularly (I recommend running this report monthly and following up A.S.A.P.) will save you time at the end of the year when you are already bogged down with end-of-year appeals, tax letters, thank you letters from holiday giving, possibly events, etc. It can be overwhelming to see a list of almost 50% of your donors that you now need to connect with all at one time. Do it monthly with smaller numbers and keep your sanity. 

Here is a real story a colleague shared with me this week…

The office where my friend works had a system issue at the end of 2016, and they did not have regular access to their donor database for a few months, and once they did, some of the information was missing.  As a result, they could not access lists, reports or contact information. In turn, staff was unable to follow up with end-of-year LYBUNTS effectively.  Now they are scrambling to connect with several hundred donors in a short period, which is not only time consuming but is costly in overall dollars trickling into the organization.

While their issues were not their timing or lack of planning, their situation resulted in what many folks experience every year: a stressful, labor-intensive mess.

Think about this. If you have 500 donors and your donor retention rate is at the national average of 43%, you retain 215 donors, in turn leaving you with 285 LYBUNTS in one year.

If you have an average gift of $100 per donor, that equates to $28,500 over the course of one year. Nothing to sneeze at for sure! Depending on the number of donors and average gift size at your organization, this number could be much higher!

Are you running your LYBUNT reports regularly?

Are you reading those reports, reaching out to donors to reconnect with them?

Are you cleaning up your database monthly and making notes about LYBUNTS that are carried over to the next month?

I encourage you to add this small task to your monthly development calendar and stay on top of the situation. Know your numbers and work to decrease your LYBUNTS and increase your Donor Retention Rate.

If you are a numbers nerd like me and this was interesting to you, check out this link, there are lots of cool nonprofits statistics here.