The Cyber Robots LYBNT and SYBNT

LYBNT, an acronym for a donor who gave Last Year But Not This year and SYBNT, a donor that gave Some Year But Not This year, are terms in the fundraising world of nonprofits and universities.  These acronyms sound like robots or transformers or aliens trying to take over the world.  In all actuality, these terms and tracking donors in this way are critical to an organization.  Stewarding donors is a must so that an organization doesn't lose donors.  Because it takes so much time and effort to gain a donor, we can't just say thank you and move on the next prospect, but we must continue to thank and involve the donor year-round.

There are many reasons why a donor will change their mind about giving; some are within your control, others may not be.  Knowing your donors and keeping in touch with your supporters will help ensure renewed gifts and will allow your organization to plan for sustainability.  If they don't already, your team should track, and your development officer or Executive Director's performance evaluation should include clear goals for renewals, renewal increases, and new donors.  For instance, a target for a development officer and a plan for your development team is to achieve an 80% renewal rate for corporate funders in 2017.

LYBNT: If a donor gave last year but did not give this year, an organization should immediately reach out and ask the donor why.  Many times, individuals gave a gift last year, and it slipped their mind this year or the volunteer solicitor that asked them last year is not a volunteer anymore.  The donor should not have fallen through the cracks, but they did – so now your job is to bring them back.  An LYBNT is easier to bring back than an SYBNT as they are a more recent donor.  The organization must re-engage the donor, make them feel involved and steward the donor until it is time to solicit them again.  

SYBNT: If a donor gave some year but not last year then it may be a little harder to bring them back into the fold but by reaching out to the donor, thanking them for their previous gift and perhaps ask him or her to lunch or coffeemight be in order.  At that lunch or coffee, ask some questions about how the former donor felt about the impact his/her gift made.  Find out why he/she did not renew their donation.  You can then give the former donor an update on the impact the organization is making and when the time feels right - ask them to consider making a new donation.

It is always worth an organization's time to try to renew a lapsed donor as they once felt good about providing support.  Former donors are more educated about your mission than a prospective donor.  There will always be lapsed donors who for some reason or another, will not come back to an organization.  As long as you can say “Yes, I stewarded that donor well, kept them informed and offered opportunities for involvement.” - that‘s all you can do.  To retain a high percentage of donors, nonprofits thank, inform, and involve their donors at all levels so that the scary robots do not come back.  

Please email with any questions or comments.

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