Tips for tapping into the potential of your LYBUNT list

Posted November 17, 2016 by Virginia Davidson

fundraising with LYBUNTs

If you’re new to fundraising, the title of this blog post may look like jibberish to you—what in the world is a LYBUNT?

LYBUNT is an acronym that refers to donors who contributed to your organization “Last Year But Unfortunately Not This”. Many fundraisers consider LYBUNTs to be low-hanging fruit: These donors expressed interest in your organization previously, so there’s a good chance they may renew support as the year goes on.

That doesn’t mean you can go on auto-pilot and just assume your donors will make a gift, though. Use your LYBUNT list throughout the year to measure progress, gauge your own efforts, and capitalize on opportunities to engage your donors. Here’s how you can use your LYBUNT list to increase donor retention and build support for your organization:

  • First things first, how do know who your LYBUNTs are? Most donor management systems, like Little Green Light, include standard reports that you can run to determine who your LYBUNTs are. If yours doesn’t, you can build your own by searching for constituents whose gift dates include last year but who have not made a gift in the current year.
  • Remember that a list of LYBUNTs isn’t static. The names on your list will fluctuate throughout the year. If you run a LYBUNT list two months into the year, you may be shocked at how many names appear on it. Don’t panic! Remember that most  charitable donations in the U.S. are made in the last quarter of the calendar year, so it’s likely that many of the donors on your LYBUNT list will be moving off it as the year goes on.
  • Delve deeper. Your LYBUNT report will likely give you the names and gift history of your LYBUNTs, such as their last gift date and last gift amount. This is great basic info to have at your fingertips. But there’s likely additional valuable information in your database that will help you understand more about your LYBUNTs. For example, were your LYBUNTs thanked for their last donation to your organization? What was the last communication they received from you, other than a solicitation? Which appeal or fund does each LYBUNT typically contribute to?
  • Use that extra information to evaluate your fundraising efforts—and correct your course, if necessary. An examination of your LYBUNT list may reveal that you’re missing opportunities to steward your donors. For example, you may notice that some gala attendees haven’t been communicated with since the event. Seize the opportunity to connect with this segment by sending a targeted communication to these donors. Thank them for their support, explain the impact of their contribution, and share a little bit about what the organization is up to. This outreach will make them more inclined to donate when they receive your year-end appeal.
  • Schedule time to review your LYBUNT list. Make a habit of checking up on your LYBUNT list at regular intervals, such as the last Friday of every month. This way, you can keep tabs on your progress, and it’s likely that your LYBUNT list will grow smaller each month as donors make contributions. If the list doesn’t shrink, you can gauge your efforts and perhaps decide to increase your focus on LYBUNTs going forward.
  • Craft your communications to LYBUNTs carefully. You may decide to send a targeted appeal to your LYBUNTs, and it’s important to strike the right tone in this outreach. Don’t make the donors feel like they’re being scolded for not giving yet this year, and refrain from guilting them into making a gift. Instead, emphasize the impact of their last gift and give them a vivid glimpse into what another contribution can make possible.
  • During the last quarter of the year, you may want to review your LYBUNT list with more frequency. Consider making personal phone calls to donors who’ve given consistently in the past but are still appearing on your LYBUNT list. You can even run the LYBUNT list again during the last week of the year and send an email appeal to catch people before the year’s end.
  • As fundraisers, it’s important that we work hard to increase donor retention—but remember that despite our best efforts, not every donor will give in consecutive years. People’s circumstances, finances, and interests change. Expect that some names will remain on your LYBUNT list at the end of the year.

Your LYBUNT list is a valuable source of information that can be used to guide and enhance your fundraising efforts throughout the year. Following these tips will ensure that the potential of your existing donors isn’t overlooked, and you’ll be well poised to increase donor retention!

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