The word “Pledge” has a negative connotation. For many, they won’t even consider an extended payment plan.
You surely have heard this sort of a comment: “I don’t pledge (making the fatal word three syllables!). I’ll make a gift, but I don’t know how things will be in the next few years. So I’m not going to pledge.” Or, “I just don’t believe in pledging. I’m almost certain I’ll give again next year, but I won’t pledge.”
I hear it all the time, “I don’t pledge.” Even though these folks buy a car on a pledge, buy a home on a pledge, and get married on a pledge!
You must find a solution. You know full well you can’t win a capital campaign with cash gifts. How do you overcome the problem?
Many (even some of your best friends and supporters) are unwilling to sign a legally binding Pledge Card because they do not want to encumber their estate. Or they feel they cannot be certain what their income will be in the future.
In our firm, we have eschewed the term, “Pledge Card” and the word “Pledge.” I favor a new term—Gift Card. (The word, “Gift” has a very positive nuance.)
On the card are the comments such as: “I will try to give ...” or, “It is my intention to give ...”
Or use what we call a Letter of Intent. This is especially effective for larger gifts. We have plenty of samples. If you would like to see some examples, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We make it clear that this will result in the donor’s best effort, but it is not legally binding.
Your Finance Office will tell you that the “Letters of Intent” can’t be counted. But don’t let the Finance Office run your campaign! And by the way, we find less attrition on a “Letter of Intent” than we do on a legally binding pledge.
This post is reprinted from the Jerold Panas, Linzy & Partners Ideas Blog.
Jerold Panas is executive partner at Jerold Panas, Linzy & Partners, one of the nation’s most highly regarded firms in the field of campaign services and financial resource development. He has written numerous highly regarded fundraising books, received several awards for his contributions to philanthropy, and been dubbed the "poet laureate of fundraising."