From Ignored to Inspiring: Transforming Your Pledge Reminders

donor experience Jul 24, 2023
pledge reminder at mailbox

Your pledge reminders should be one of the best engagement and stewardship pieces your donor received this year. If a donor has signed up for a pledge, especially a long-term one, these are loyal donors who plan on giving to you for many years into the future. Every time you are going to remind them to make their upcoming gift, it's an opportunity to remind them of their importance in your mission and how they are helping you accomplish it.

Where Most Nonprofits Go Wrong with Their Pledge Reminders

  • They send sterile-looking invoices. We have relationships with our donors, and we don't want to feel like the donor's credit card bill or phone bill. In fact, your organization's pledge reminder is probably the most welcome "bill" they will receive in the mail. Make it appealing to look at and not like a credit card invoice.
  • They do not include pictures. Most people are visual and if you put a nice picture that shows mission delivery, you might have a better chance of the donor actually responding. Pictures convey emotions that words cannot always get across.
  • It's just an invoice. Put some mission-centered language in that reminds them of the amazing mission they are part of. Gold star if you put specific language that corresponds to the program they are supporting!
  • They put the onus on the donor. It's shocking how many nonprofits just send a pledge reminder with no instructions and expect the donor to find the payment link, locate the mailing address, and write out an envelope. They make it harder on the donor to send in their payment and then wonder why their pledge collection rates are low. 

The Perfect Pledge Reminder

This is not a unicorn or other mythical creature that you need to spend time chasing. However, if you follow this roadmap, you're well on your way to creating the perfect pledge reminder. 

1) If you are sending reminders through mail, the outer envelope should have text that allows the donor to know that it's time to make their payment. It should be something kind and engaging; not invoice-y like "Payment Due" or "Past Due." Some pledgers might believe that the mail is a direct mail solicitation or appeal and not open it. They think, "I'm already giving so I don't need to open this." The verbiage on the outer envelope should be something like "We're counting on your pledge payment" or "Our mission happens because of YOU. Pledge reminder enclosed." If you send your pledge reminders by email, the subject line should be engaging, like the above examples.

2) It's important that you make it easy for the donor to send their payment. Go the extra mile to make it easier. Many nonprofits put too many steps on the donors' side, and donors get lost trying to find a link or an envelope. With emailed pledge reminders, include the payment link so donors can click the link and make the payment. Not the link to the website homepage, but the actual link to a donation page. When you're mailing your pledge reminders, include a return envelope so the donor doesn't have to hunt down your address, find an envelope, write the address, and pop it in the mail. Also include the link in your letter so donors can choose to give online, if they desire.

3) Write a short, mission-centered message and photo so the donor is reminded of why they teamed up with you to make change in the world. This should not be a novella. A paragraph sharing a story or an update about the program or project they pledge to. For our visual donors, include a image that shows your mission being delivered. Show people, not buildings to ensure an emotional reaction. 

4) Wow your donors by showing an accounting of the pledge, payments and balance. This is a brilliant strategy to subtly communicate that the organization has solid accounting systems in place. It brings donors a sense of comfort that you're tracking the pledge and they trust that you'll be in touch when a payment is due.

By following these steps, your organization will send impactful, inspiring pledge reminders that encourage donors to make their payments. I'm including the link to a blog that discusses the right communication cadence for sending pledge reminders. It also states when it is time to write of a pledge.

About Mary Hackett

Mary Hackett is a vibrant and engaging powerhouse in the world of major gift expertise, with a sparkling career steeped in the intricacies of fundraising operations. Residing in the picturesque town of Bend, Oregon, Mary's professional journey is as lively and inspiring as her scenic surroundings. Her extensive experience in fundraising is marked by a unique blend of strategic insight and a contagious enthusiasm that has consistently propelled organizations to new heights of success. With a knack for connecting with people and a deep understanding of the nuances of philanthropy, Mary has become a sought-after expert in her field. Her approach to fundraising is not just about meeting targets; it's about building relationships, weaving stories, and creating impactful experiences that resonate with donors and communities alike. In Mary's world, every fundraising campaign is an adventure, filled with opportunities to make a meaningful difference while having a whole lot of fun along the way. Want to work with Mary? 

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