Three calls in the past week have started with appeals to make year-end financial donations. Each was from a causes that I have previously supported. I assume most of you have received some of your own. The quickest way for an organizations to alienate me is to inform me that they are sending a pledge form in the mail to my home address even when I have made it clear that I will consider renewing but I am not prepared to make commitment at this time. A pledge is a contract with the cause that I intend to make a philanthropic gift. It is more than a gesture and under some interpretations a pledge represents a legal obligation. Now you rarely hear of a nonprofit organization taking a donor to the collection agency to make good on a pledge if circumstances or inclinations change but once a pledge is signed and returned it must be reported on the nonprofit’s tax return for the current fiscal year. I readily encourage causes to send me information or even a reminder but a pledge card suggests we have an agreement. I have seen data that the conversion rate on pledge cards is much higher than just mailing a donor card. I would suggest that if your campaign is based on trolling for anyone with a credit cards number who has had a previous interaction with your cause then you are preaching to the uninspired. However, if you have a relationship and gain permission then you are asking your fans to add to their investment.
Sports fans who hold season tickets make a critical decision every year. They receive a window of time in which to renew their tickets. If the only time the fan hears from the team is around renewal time, the relationships is most likely transactional. If however, the fan is connected to the players and identifies with what the team stands for then it takes extenuating circumstances to keep a fan from renewing.
Do you have fans or are you relying on sleight of hand?