You’ve probably heard of a donation pledge if you’ve been in fundraising for any amount of time.
A donation pledge is when a supporter promises to give a certain amount of money in a set time frame.
It’s different from a donation – when a donor completes their gift then and there, while a pledge is a commitment to give in the future.
In recent years, pledges have fallen out of fashion: it harkens back to a grassroots style of community-based fundraising, a handshake contract in a digital world.
Donation pledges tended to be difficult for fundraising professionals to track and manage, taking up fundraising professional’s precious time to get donors to follow through on.
But, when you re-imagine donation pledges to be optimized for the digital space, donation pledges arise as a huge opportunity and can provide serious benefits for your nonprofit.
Why Ask For Donation Pledges?
So what is the benefit of a pledge over a donation? It has to do with creating a long term digital strategy that will bring in larger and more predictable income over time. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits:
1. Increase Gift Sizes
When you ask someone for a $1000 donation, they’re unlikely to say yes immediately. That’s a significant gift that isn’t accessible for many donors. But if you ask someone to give $1000 over the course of a year, you’re really just asking them for $80 a month. That feels much more approachable.
Donation pledges allow anyone to become a major donor by allowing them to spread out their gift over a period of time. You can ask for larger amounts in a way that is more likely to get a yes.
2. It’s All Automatic
Historically, donation pledges meant that you had to follow up with a donor and make sure that the pledge was fulfilled. Not anymore!
With CauseVox’s pledge forms, everything happens automatically. The donor’s card will be charged in installments, they’ll receive a donation receipt, and you’ll always be able to see the pledge fulfillment process. Not only is it easy for you, it’s also much easier for your fundraisers. They don’t need to do any of the work to follow up on pledges (which can be intimidating).
Interested in learning more? Watch the webinar, “Get More Pledges With CauseVox Pledge Now, Pay Later” on demand.
3. Revenue You Can Rely On
One of the cornerstones of online fundraising is reliable revenue. Where traditional fundraising was based around events or individual campaigns, digital fundraising focuses on donors who will consistently come in month after month. Pledges are a fantastic way to build predictable revenue for your organization. Pledges make it easy for donors to pick a donation schedule that fits their needs: whether they want to give annually or monthly, they can set up the donation that works for them.
Plus, you’re more likely to see significant donor retention with pledges. Annual gifts bring back donors year after year. Consistent interaction with your organization increases donor retention. We know that recurring giving has a 90% retention rate. Pledges are practically very similar to recurring giving, so we can bet that the retention rate will be similarly high.
4. Happy Donors, Happy You
One of the best parts of donation pledges is that it makes donors happy. Who doesn’t want the boost of knowing you’re donating a major amount with the budget impact of just a hundred bucks or so? Donors can commit to giving now, and pay later for more convenience.
It also allows your donor to be in control of the whole process. They can set a time frame and amount that feels comfortable to them, then manage everything on their own in their CauseVox account. If they need to update their credit card number, adjust their amount, or make other changes, it’s easy and straightforward so you don’t end up with any frustrated donors asking how to make changes.
5. New Fundraising Opportunities And Financing
Pledges allow you to open up new opportunities for your organization. One great benefit is that if you have a solid pledge income for your future, you can prove that you have backing when you’re applying for loans and grants.
But pledges also help you expand and extend your current individual donor strategy: if you focus on pledges during a peer-to-peer campaign, you can see pay offs for years to come from a single campaign. Using the pledge feature on CauseVox, donors can pay for memberships for up to 5 years. That’s some significant income coming your way.
Best Practices For Getting Donation Pledges:
Ok, ok, so let’s say we’ve convinced you. Donation pledges are great. Now what? How do you get your donors to actually go ahead and make the pledge? Let’s take a look at some of the best practices for increasing donation pledges.
1. Create A Great Donation Pledge Ask
Obviously the place to start is with the donation pledge ask. It’s the heart of any donation. In some ways, the pledge ask is just like any other fundraising campaign appeal. You still want to tell a story that pulls at your donor’s emotions. You still want to focus on verbs that will illustrate how the donation makes an impact. And you absolutely need to end with a solid call to action (the part where you say “make a pledge to support this work.”)
But there are some unique elements to the pledge. Ideally, a pledge campaign will focus on a specific, concrete project. That helps to drive the urgency of the ask. It could be something like disaster relief, raising money for a new facility, or building a new program. The more specific you are, the more people will be willing to give.
One great way to do this is to use pledge tiers.
Just as with any other donation form, CauseVox allows you to set tiers to encourage donors to pledge a specific amount. You can also add descriptions to help people see the impact of their gift. This is a great place to continue telling your story and create specific, concrete needs that your donors can fund. For example if you’re fundraising for a new playground, a $1000 pledge may cover the cost of a slide.
2. Increase Urgency Around Your Pledge
The more you build urgency around your pledge drive, the more likely supporters are to give because they know it needs to happen now. One way to do this is to include a deadline. If you use the CauseVox fundraising thermometer, donors can see your progress and the amount of time left for you to reach your goals. Knowing they have to give now will spur donors to action.
In conjunction with the deadline, use social media to keep your supporters updated throughout the campaign. You can highlight recent donors, let people know when you hit goals, and share additional information about the campaign. Another great tool for ongoing communication is CauseVox’s updates feature, which lets you share information with donors and fundraisers.
3. Have A Great Donation Pledge Form
Once you’ve finalized your ask, you’ll want to make sure that your pledge form is up to snuff. If a donor clicks to the pledge form and finds it confusing, frustrating, or time-consuming, you’re likely to lose their donation. You want to make sure you have a form that’s not too long (the more fields you have, the fewer people will complete it), straightforward, mobile-optimized, and easy to use with Apple or Google Pay. Even better if it’s embedded directly on your site or page so that donors don’t have to click through to make their donation.
The best pledge forms will give donors the option to pay in installments. CauseVox’s pledge feature allows monthly (12, 24, 36, 48 months) or annual (2, 3, 4, 5 years) options, so that donors can give a higher pledge broken up over time.
Even after you’ve gotten the pledge, a good form will keep doing work by automatically fulfilling the pledges over time. CauseVox’s pledge feature will automatically charge the donor at the correct intervals, so you don’t have to chase down the pledges and you know your revenue will come in on time.
In addition to creating a smooth process for your donors, there are some other tips and tricks that can help you bring in more pledges. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to increase pledges. Get your fundraisers to ask friends and family for a pledge rather than a straight donation, and you’ll see your impact widen.
Finally, adding in a matching gift is a great way to incentivize pledges. Donors will give more knowing that they can pay in installments, but with the satisfaction of knowing that the full pledge is matched. They get the best of both worlds.
Who And When To Ask
Pledges are a great option no matter who you’re soliciting, but there are certain demographics who are going to be ideal candidates for donation pledges.
One good option for donation pledges is major donors. If you have a solid group of major donors and you’re looking to increase their donations, consider running a pledge drive focused on them. Having the option to pay in installments may allow some of those donors to up their giving. Plus, if you create a tailored campaign just for them, you’ll help them feel special and important which is always a great way to increase a gift.
Another demographic to target is mid-level donors that are ready for an upgrade. If you have donors who have consistently given in a middle tier, pledges are a wonderful way to incentivize them to become major donors. Especially if you can make a personal outreach to each of the donors you hope to upgrade, you’re likely to see a high response. Let them know that the pledge allows them to increase their giving in a way that’s sustainable to them and incredibly important to you, and you’ll see huge results.
What To Do After The Pledge
Once a donor has made their pledge, your work isn’t over. Just as with any other donation, a good thank you, robust communication, and continued relationship building are what will turn that donor into a continuing supporter. There are a few things you’ll want to do differently for your pledge donors though.
First, make sure that your donor always knows what’s happening with their pledge. CauseVox provides enhanced receipts that include all of the installment details, so the donor knows how much they’ve given and how much they have still pledged each time a payment is processed.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re tracking your pledge donors so that you know when they’ve made their full gift, or if something goes wrong (like a bad credit card number). You can use your CRM or CauseVox to keep track of these donors. From there, you can segment the communication that these donors receive. Tailor emails or phone calls to reflect their role as a pledge donor. Share information about what your organization is doing throughout their pledge period. Make sure they feel connected to the work that’s happening so that they know how their pledge is making an impact.
You’ll also want to send communication to thank each donor when they complete their pledge. Encourage them to start a new pledge or become a monthly donor. They’ve already been giving in installments: why not take it the next step and set up a recurring donation?
Start Taking Donation Pledges On CauseVox
If you’re ready to amp up your fundraising by adding pledges to your digital fundraising strategy, CauseVox is here to help.
With simple, easy-to use pledge forms, donation forms, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, and ticketing, and more, CauseVox makes fundraising online easy and hassle-free.
Schedule a demo to get started today, or watch the webinar, “Get More Pledges With CauseVox Pledge Now, Pay Later” on demand.