Caveats Concerning Pledge Drives

Vol. 12 No. 2


When making personal solicitations during a capital/major gifts campaign, volunteers often end their visits by giving pledge cards to prospective donors. This can let a prospect “off the hook” because it eliminates the subtle pressure to act during the visit. Once the volunteer leaves, the pledge card may end up in a “to-do” pile on the person’s kitchen counter—or, worse, be misplaced or unintentionally tossed into the trash.

The bottom line is: Pledge cards may not garner the best gifts. To get better contributions, arrange a subsequent meeting to “seal” the gift. A hesitant donor is more likely to respond during a follow-up visit than via a pledge card. Even if the pledge drive initially is a success, many of your constituents will eventually renege on their giving commitments. Continue to cultivate a donor who doesn’t honor a pledge. Often, the person wants to give, but, in some cases, unforeseen circumstances (e.g., job loss, divorce, death in the family) keep the donor from supporting your school at the level initially pledged.

If the donor’s situation has changed, it is better to weather the storm with him/her than to force the issue. The original solicitor can discuss the lapsed donations with the donor and, more important, show concern for the person’s current plight. Although you’ll get less support than expected now, the gift will likely grow when the situation improves. Friend raising and fund raising always go hand-in-hand.Always keep the channels open, regardless of the situation at hand.

For more on ISM’s advice concerning fund raising, see the Collection Key ISM Development Theory (which is free for Gold Consortium members).

Additional ISM articles of interest
ISM Monthly Update for Development Directors Vol. 11 No. 7 Two Campaigns, Same TIME … What Do You Ask For?
ISM Monthly Update for Development Directors Vol. 12 No. 1 What Motivate Donors to Give?
ISM Monthly Update for Development Directors Vol. 11 No. 4 Re-recruiting Your Donors at Small Events

Additional ISM articles of interest for Gold Consortium members
I&P Vol. 32 No. 6 Why Getting a Quick, Large Gift May Be a Campaign False Start
I&P Vol. 30 No. 3 Focus on Your School’s Unique Family Demographics

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