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LYBUNTS and SYBUNTS: Explained

5 min read
January 10, 2024
Abby Jarvis

Acronyms can be a handy way to abbreviate long words and phrases. They can also be very confusing, especially when people confidently use acronyms you’ve never heard before. The terms “LYBUNT” and “SYBUNT” are no exception!

These are common terms in the nonprofit world, and in this article, we’ll explore what they mean and why they’re important.

LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs Definition

First things first: “LYBUNT” stands for “Last Year But Unfortunately Not This Year.” 

“SYBUNT” stands for “Some Year But Unfortunately Not This Year.”

Both terms are used to refer to supporters who have donated in the past but haven’t done so yet this year. 

If someone gave last year but hasn’t given this year, they’re a LYBUNT. If it’s been longer—two years or more since their last gift—they’re a SYBUNT.

This is a screenshot of the Neon CRM interface that displays a donor’s history. This donor, Tom Sawyer, has made two gifts—one in 2020 and one in 2022—for a total of $4,341.
Tom Sawyer made his most recent gift in 2022, which makes him a SYBUNT. To see a larger image of this part of Neon CRM’s interface, click here.

How to Identify LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs

LYBUNTs are donors who made a gift last year but haven’t yet given this year.

If you’re using a nonprofit CRM, identifying your LYBUNT and SYBUNT donors should be as simple as running a report. Here’s how to do it in Neon CRM:

  1. Click on “Reports” at the top of your dashboard, then choose “New Report”
  2. Click on “Fundraising” in the menu that appears on the right-hand side of the screen
  3. Select either “LYBUNT Donor Report” or “SYBUNT Donor Report”
  4. Click “Create Report”
This is a screenshot of the Neon CRM interface used to run reports on LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs.
If you’re using a CRM, identifying LYBUNT and SYBUNT donors can be as simple as running a report.

If you’re using something like Excel or Google Sheets as your donor database, the process is still possible—it may just take a little extra time! 

To identify LYBUNTs, pull a list of all your donors who gave this year. Then, pull a list of donors who gave last year. Compare the two lists to identify people on last year’s list who aren’t on this year’s list. 

You’ll do something similar for SYBUNTs. Start with your list of donors who have given this year, then pull a list of all donors and eliminate the ones who’ve already made a gift. If you don’t want LYBUNTs in this list, eliminate the donors who gave last year, too. The remaining donors are your SYBUNTs.

Why Track LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs?

There are a few reasons to keep an eye on these groups of donors:

It Helps You Understand Your Donor Retention

Keeping donors engaged year after year is one of the most important parts of a sustainable fundraising strategy.

Understanding your LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs gives you insight into how your donor retention strategy is working. 

If you have a bunch of LYBUNTs and only a handful of SYBUNTs, for example, your donor retention strategy last year worked pretty well—keep it up as you seek to re-engage them this year!

It Makes Segmentation Easier

You probably know that sending segmented communications is a great way to make your supporters feel recognized and appreciated. The same is true of your LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs!

As you work to re-engage your past donors and ask them to give again, try sending slightly different versions of your emails to these two groups.

For example: If you’re emailing donors who gave last year but haven’t given yet this year, you could include a success story they helped make possible last year and invite them to continue making an impact this year.

For donors that have given in the past but not last year, you could adjust that slightly to include a success story from last year and share some details about what else your community has made possible since their last gift. Then, you could invite them to get involved with your work.

It’s a subtle difference, but it can make your messaging feel much more personal! 

You Can Use It to Set Effective Goals

What goals do you set for yourself? Lots of nonprofits work to meet specific numbers for fundraising and donor acquisition. Donor retention and lapsed donor re-engagement are also great goals! 

Try setting re-engagement goals for LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs. How many of each type of donor do you have? How many do you reasonably think you can inspire to get involved again? Find a number you feel comfortable with, measure your progress, and use that insight to set re-engagement goals in the future.

It’s Time to Start Tracking Your LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs!

Using a nonprofit CRM makes it easy to identify your LYBUNTs (donors who gave last year but unfortunately not this year) and SYBUNTs (donors who gave some year but unfortunately not this year). It’s possible for databases in Excel and Google Sheets, too! 

Whatever you’re using to track your donors, understanding these two groups of supporters is an important part of an effective fundraising strategy. It helps you understand how your donor retention strategy is working, makes it easier to send effective communications, and can guide you as you set donor engagement goals.

Looking for ways to re-engage your LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs? These strategies will get you started.

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