LYBNT Letter ≠ Magic

I miss you.

Our last two posts have been about winning back lapsed donors to your cause. (You can read them here and here).

I want to end this mini-series with a short but powerful thought for you…

If you have a LYBNT appeal and it’s working, that’s a sign that you don’t have enough appeals and you could be raising more money.

(In case you haven’t run into “LYBNT” before, it’s an acronym for “Last Year But Not This” year. Many organizations have a special “LYBUNT appeal” that goes out to donors who haven’t given in a year.)

For instance, if you have four appeals per year plus a LYBUNT appeal, your LYBNT appeal most likely works simply because it’s ANOTHER appeal. Why? Because four appeals are far short of maximizing your revenue and retaining as many of your donors as you could be retaining.

In other words, a LYBNT appeal doesn’t work because it’s a special “LYBNT appeal.”

A LYBNT letter works because it’s:

  • A clear Ask
  • It’s about the donor
  • It’s another chance for your donor to help

Which is the way all your appeals should be!

Here’s my understanding of the situation: if you have enough strong appeals, you don’t need a LYBNT appeal, because you’re sending strong appeals regularly enough to motivate your donors to give.

And here’s my advice: if you have a LYBNT appeal, I’d replace it with a strong appeal and send it to everybody (not just donors who haven’t given a gift this year). You’ll raise the same revenue as the LYBNT letter and you’ll raise even more revenue from current donors.

Worried about “donor fatigue”? Don’t!

Hope this helps, and good luck out there!


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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