Donation Pledges: All You Should Know (+ Free Pledge Form Template)

Donation pledges can be an excellent way to encourage larger gifts and develop relationships with new donors. They can help nonprofits build on earlier gift amounts and entice donors to give again in the case of disaster relief or an organization’s urgent needs. This article will explain the following in terms of donation pledges and…

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Donation Pledges: All You Should Know (+ Free Pledge Form Template)

donation pledges

Donation pledges can be an excellent way to encourage larger gifts and develop relationships with new donors. They can help nonprofits build on earlier gift amounts and entice donors to give again in the case of disaster relief or an organization’s urgent needs.

This article will explain the following in terms of donation pledges and pledge forms:

  1. What are donation pledges, and how do they work?
  2. Difference between pledges and recurring donations
  3. Why should nonprofits opt for pledge fundraising?
  4. How to create a donation pledge form to get donors to give
  5. Free donation pledge form template

What are Donation Pledges, and How Do They Work?

A donation pledge is a promise from the donor to donate a specific amount over a set amount of time. Many donors pledge to support friends, family, and nonprofits during a particular campaign or event.

While donations are immediate gifts to a nonprofit, pledges are a promise. Pledges are often given because of a connection to a specific donor or volunteer.

For instance, if someone chooses to run for a nonprofit, they’ll collect pledges based on the amount of time or number of miles they’ll run. Participants can hand pledge cards out to people or you can create an online pledge form to help them collect pledges before the event day.

Donation pledge forms and cards

Pledge cards and forms include space for donors to fill out their name, address, phone number, and pledge amount. Nonprofits can use this to collect the donation over the specified period of time. This data is also a great opportunity for nonprofits to perform prospect research and create a personalized approach to solicitation at a later date.

Pledge cards help collect essential contact information to build relationships with new donors. Nonprofits must remember to add all pledge information to their donor database. It’s advisable to have a dedicated person who will take care of this task.

Donorbox lets you create new donor profiles and add details as well as update existing records. In the case of your donation pledges, you can create a new donor profile (if it’s not an existing donor), add all details in the respective fields, and the pledged amount in the communications tab, as shown below. For existing donors, you can simply open the donor record and repeat the process.

donation pledges

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It is best practice to have an accountant oversee these pledges to ensure you’re recording them correctly.

Difference Between Pledges and Recurring Donations

Since pledges can be made over time, there can be confusion between a pledge and recurring donations.

Pledges are for a specific amount that can be paid at once or in multiple installments. The amount given in each installment depends on the donor or the agreement made between them and the organization. Recurring donations, however, are the same amount given weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually over time.

While both mean consistent support for the organization, the processes are radically different.

Why Should Nonprofits Opt for Pledge Fundraising?

Many nonprofits wonder why they should ask for pledges instead of traditional donations. On the surface, it’s a reasonable concern since there is no immediate money for your organization, but pledge fundraising can benefit nonprofits in several ways.

1. Perfect for a-thon events

Most a-thon events such as walk-a-thons, read-a-thons, etc. depend on donation pledges. The participants share the pledge forms or cards with their friends and family to collect pledges. Their friends and family then make donations either depending on the number of miles they’ve walked or run or pages they’ve read.

The below read-a-thon pledge campaign helps collect pledges for the event. In the campaign description, they mentioned how the pledges would be used and also thanked those who made pledge donations.

pledge form

2. Helps raise donations with kids’ events

If you’re running a kids’ event such as a talent show, movie night, scavenger hunt, sports day, etc., you can hand out pledge cards to kids to help them collect pledges from their parents. It’s also a nice way to instill a sense of philanthropy in kids.

When parents join them during or after the event, kids can collect pledges and you can also talk with the adults about your nonprofit mission and impact. After their kids have had a fun time at your event, parents would be more likely to make a donation pledge.

3. Can encourage donors to give regularly with monthly gifts

Pledges are a way to focus on donors’ excitement and get them to pledge more significant amounts than they may give in a different situation. However, when you call to collect on these pledges, there may be a bit of buyer’s remorse. So, offering the option to give monthly can help them keep their promise.

Here’s how Equitable Giving Circle implements the idea of a monthly pledge campaign.

pledge form

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Pro tip: When the donor is used to giving a specific amount to your nonprofit every month, you can encourage them to continue their monthly gift next year by offering membership benefits like regular program updates, special access to events, and more.

4. Prospect research

Pledge campaigns are an excellent way to collect basic information on potential donors. Donors who have filled out a pledge card or form have already shown interest in your nonprofit and mission and may have already given you a dollar amount. Your nonprofit can use this information as a starting point to start researching these donors to learn more about their background and ability to give.

Assign a volunteer or staff member to perform prospect research for each pledge. Once you’ve collected more information, have a board member or director call the donor to ask for the donation and discuss ways the donor can support the organization in the future. Remember, pledges are a way to form long-term relationships, not just collect a one-time gift.

5. Gives donors the ability to make anonymous donations

Pledge campaigns give donors a way to support your organization publicly but keep their gift amounts anonymously. Each donor can promise to give, and your nonprofit can then work directly with the donor on how they can give in the future.

How to Create a Donation Pledge Form to Get Donors to Give

Donation pledge forms and cards are essential tools for nonprofits to ensure pledges. When developing these forms, it’s best practice to include the following details.

1. Create a streamlined experience

Donors are usually excited by the environment and crowd during an event, so any break in that excitement will discourage them from giving. As you develop forms and cards for your pledge campaign, it’s crucial to streamline the experience for donors.

Collect just the right amount of information to contact them later and let them enjoy the day’s event. Keep the form short and to the point and provide as many check boxes as possible to help them make a quick decision. Our free template in the next section will help you get a better understanding.

2. Let donors give immediately during your pledge campaign

Your pledge forms must also include a space for immediate donations. Just because you’re accepting pledges doesn’t mean you want to deny your supporters from giving a gift immediately. Pledge forms must include a space to fill in a donation amount and credit card or a way to provide a check or cash.

If you or your supporters are using an online pledge form (or page, as shown below) instead, it automatically lets donors make the donations right on the spot. The below example is from Postpartum Support Center which uses the Donorbox donation form to collect pledges from its donors.

pledge form

3. Focus on a specific goal or project

A pledge campaign should entice donors to give to specific needs. This way, they don’t see it as an ask for more of the same and won’t worry that it will become a habit. Also, they’ll see how their pledge donations will directly have an impact on lives or an urgent need.

Capital Campaigns are an excellent opportunity to collect pledges. You’ll want to encourage larger donations during your capital campaign, and pledges allow donors to give amounts over time. Your donors may be more interested in giving significant amounts since your capital campaign is focused on your organization’s growth and long-term goals.

The Cathedral of All Saints uses the below online pledge form to help donors make pledge donations over the course of the next 3 years toward their capital campaign.

pledge donations

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4. Add donation matching options

Nonprofits get a better response when requests are urgent. If you want to collect more during your next campaign, matching gifts are excellent ways to create this urgency.

Before your campaign starts, contact a major donor or corporate sponsor to find someone willing to match gifts up to a specific amount. Once you have that promise, you can share this opportunity with supporters.

Create a campaign with a solid start and end date and use a fundraising thermometer to help donors track the campaign’s success. Your donors will be more likely to give when they can see how their gifts are immediately making a difference.

Another way to achieve this is to add a company matching widget to your pledge form online. Donors will be able to search for their employers to see if they will match the donation. Donorbox partners with Double the Donation to help you add this widget to your donation form or embed it on your website. Check out this pledge campaign by Valor Education to see how they’ve leveraged this widget to raise money for their project.

pledge donations

5. Keep track of your pledges

The worst thing to happen to your pledge campaign is missing out on collecting pledges, but it’s easy to do so if you haven’t created a system to follow. You’ll most likely need additional volunteers and staff help to keep track of which gifts you’ve already received and those still uncollected.

A donor management system like that of Donorbox will help you add pledge amounts to your donor records. These records can then be used by board members or other staff members to personally call and ask for donations.

Free Donation Pledge Form Template

If you’re ready to hold a pledge campaign and having difficulty getting started, we’ve included a free pledge form template to help.

Click here to download the below donation pledge form template.

Final Thoughts

It’s vital you start to think of pledges as ways to build and strengthen relationships with your donors instead of just the potential for lost revenue. This change in perspective will help your nonprofit raise more money in the long run. Pledge campaigns are an excellent way to encourage significant gifts and develop long-term relationships with new and current donors.

As you have seen in the above examples, a lot of nonprofits are using Donorbox to run their pledge campaigns. Donorbox is a flexible, user-friendly, and effective fundraising solution, helping 50,000+ organizations across 96 countries. We’ve helped them raise over $1.6 billion in donations. Our some of the most popular features include Recurring Donations, customization Fundraising Pages, Crowdfunding, Events, Peer-to-Peer, Memberships, Donor Management, Text-to-Give, etc.

Expert help can take your nonprofit growth and fundraising efforts to the next level! Check out Donorbox Premium. Get access to fundraising coaches, an account ambassador, excellent tech support in every step of the way, and high-powered tools. pricing is personalized for every nonprofit. Click here to book a demo.

The Donorbox Nonprofit Blog is the ultimate nonprofit resource hub for insightful articles, downloadable checklists and templates, thorough guides, and more. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a hand-picked list of our best resources in your inbox every month.

Want to network and grow with other nonprofits? Check out Donorbox Knowledge Community! Ask questions, give answers, find resources, and more!

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Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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