As I searched for samples of amazing pledge reminders for this week’s webinar, I was sorely disappointed with what I found. Many of our pledge reminders treat reminding donors that they still have a commitment to fulfill as routine and mindless as when the cable company sends an overdue notice. What does this say to our donors? It makes the entire effort not to have our relationships be entirely transactional just that, a business transaction. After all of our work to retain donors and realizing that national donor retention hovers around 27%, what is our national pledge fulfillment rate? Do you know how many of your organization’s pledges are written off at the end of every fiscal year?
If you don’t know the answers it may be time to find out. If you haven’t seen your pledge reminder and thought about the way it makes your donors feel about their giving, it is time you had a look. Does it arrive, in the mail in a windowed envelope with a slip of paper that is no more friendly than the water bill? What kind of messaging is enclosed?
Check out some of these examples, do they make you feel like you are “paying a bill” or involved in the philanthropic process?
I understand that pledge reminders need to be somewhat automated and easy to produce, but why do they have to be so ugly and lacking in impact or gratitude? It goes back to the theory that servers in restaurants are trained to write you a hand written note on the bill, it increases their tips exponentially, what if we applied that theory to pledge reminders? We know they need to convey the information that there is an outstanding payment, but could we include information on what gifts like the pledge were able to do? Could we say thank you? Could we at least have a softer “landing” than, “this is what you owe”?
Donor relations is everywhere and is inextricable from the giving experience. However, donor relations sometimes has little or no input on these documents. We should, we must, we need to. It is imperative that at all times we convey gratitude and impact to our donors, not just that the transaction is incomplete.
What are your thoughts on this? What do your pledge reminders look like, send me a sample to share with others at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, post your fulfillment rate below!