I am surprised at the number of blank stares I get these days from not-for-profit leaders when I use the term “LYBUNT”.  If there is one thing a fundraising and development professional should be doing in December it should be making a list LYBUNTs “and checking it twice, you have to find out who has been naughty or nice.” 

LYBUNT is an acronym that stands for “last year, but unfortunately not this year.” This is a term used frequently in the fundraising world to represent donors who gave your organization money last year but, who have not given you money yet this year. Fundraisers typically target this group of last year’s donors differently than people who haven’t made a gift at all.

A donor in this group is also sometimes referred to as a “low hanging fruit” or a “warm” donor since that individual could be expected to give a gift again.  If you are an Executive Director, President, Board member or Director of Development there is not a better use of your time at this time of year than calling and meeting with your top donors from last year, but who have not yet given this year.

Focus on the top 15 – 30 donors who haven’t made a gift yet this year.  Integration is the key to getting your calls returned: use in combination emails, voice mails, hand written notes and drop by visits to remind your LYBUNTs not to forget your charity this year.  Don’t just make the purpose for the call or visit all about getting the money, use it instead, to build a real friendship with each person.  Begin every call, contact or meeting with the words: “We’ve missed you this year.”  Find out what’s going on in their lives, and what’s still important to them about the work you’re doing.  Then ask them to make a year-end commitment to ensure that important work can continue.

Remember, in most cases the LYBUNT donor thinks that they have made a gift, most certainly within the last year.  It is truly an oversight on their part so have a spirit of forgiveness and be as welcoming as possible.  For those LYBUNT donors who did not forget to send you a gift, you should never presume that they lapsed because of something your organization did or didn’t do. Many donors stop giving for many reasons we might never know, like big purchases, lifestyle and work changes, and new priorities in their giving plans.

Roy C. Jones, CFRE

In the month of December, one thing is for sure… if your donor knows that “you a making a list and checking it twice and that you’ll find out soon who’s naughty or nice” they are going to make sure that there is a gift under the tree at your charitable organization.  Merry Christmas!

Special thanks to Tracy Cadigan at www.prospectresearch.com  for helping get the word out about www.RoyJonesReports.com .  I invite you to visit Blackbaud’s prospect research blog for more industry knowledge and best practice sharing.