A lapsed donor is someone who used to give consistently to your church but has stopped. Since giving data is generally the most accurate data in your database, it's relatively easy to measure.
But before I dig into the details of "how", we probably need to answer the question, "why track lapsed donors?". At it's heart, this is a pastoral care issue.
Proverbs 27:23 says, "Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds." I grew up the son of a cattleman and like shepherds, cowboys can tell when something is wrong by paying attention to the demeanor and behavior of their livestock.
Pastors can do the same. The lapsed donor report is just a tool a pastor can use to be alert and pay attention to the demeanor and behavior of those they lead. Here is what lapsed giving might mean and a helpful framework for interacting with people on a lapsed donor list.
Demotion. A lapsed donor may have just experienced a very difficult personal time in their life requiring their giving to change. It might be an expensive illness in the family or loss of a job. Whatever it is, they are reacting to a personal crisis. They need a pastor to come alongside, comfort and care for them.
Conflict. Sometimes the person or family has experienced a difficult interaction or relationship with the pastor, a staff person, or someone else in the congregation. Their reactive response is to stop or change their giving. A wise and skilled pastor will discover this and see it as an opportunity to disciple. This might mean modeling humility or serving as a peacemaker. Whatever it looks like, conflict can be an incredible way for the mercy, grace and forgiveness the gospel offers to be seen and lived out.
Promotion. At other times someone stops giving because of positive, pro-active changes in their personal lives. They got a promotion and have re-located or are in process of relocation. This provides the pastor with an opportunity to thank the family for their ministry, bless them and encourage or even help them find another church in their new location. This kind of ministry hand-off is rare, but it is meaningful.
Vision. Occasionally people will proactively redirect their giving to another organization as a result of a compelling vision. There's usually a story that goes with this change. By prayerfully asking about and listening to this story, a pastor can discern what God might be doing in this person's life or what God might be doing in the church's life. Out of this discernment might arise a new ministry within or a partnership outside the church.
Last Tuesday we finished a 5 week series of roundtables on reports with a look at financial reports. It's Episode 16 of the Roundtable Podcast if you want to hear it. The first report we talked about was the one on how to create a lapsed donor report. Here are the steps to create and then automate it.
- Decide on the data. I typically think of consistent (5 or more) giving between 12 and 3 months ago, but nothing since. You might include amount as well (ex. over $2,000).
- List. Reports > Members > Member Listing. This can be counter intuitive, but for this report we're looking for names and contact information not financial numbers.
- Filters. Filters > Contributions > Number of contributions. Input the data parameters you chose in step 1.
- Save the report. You will have options to make the date ranges dynamic. This might take a little math to transition months to weeks.
- Schedule the report. Once saved go to Reports > Scheduled Reports and choose the Saved report. Then add in who you want it to go to and how often.
You can easily create this report, but without a clear understanding of its value and a pastoral motivation to use it, there's no need. There are other signs of restlessness in the herd that can give you a sense of what's going on with individuals and families. But, lapsed donor reports are one of the most accurate and easiest.