Creating a Powerful Pledge Campaign: 5 Essential Tips

Our 5 essential tips to building a powerful and engaging pledge campaign!

The powerhouse strategy of the fundraising world, a pledge campaign can be an extremely effective way to leverage your network of support. When the right planning, concept, and mission come together for a pledge campaign, there’s no better way to engage your donors quickly!

Pledge campaigns are great choices for nonprofits of any size or age, although a successful pledge campaign can provide recently-started nonprofits with a major support boost. This can dramatically expand an organization or church’s network of donors in a relatively short amount of time.

Compared to a more run-of-the-mill nonprofit fundraising campaign, a pledge campaign still requires just as much (if not more) strategy and planning to reach its full potential. That’s why we’ve compiled this shortlist of the most important elements and tips that you need to incorporate into your next pledge campaign. Let’s run through them now:

  1. Find a pledge tool with plenty of options.
  2. Build a truly compelling pledge campaign.
  3. Set up engaging pledge campaign conditions.
  4. Keep your campaign data as organized as possible.
  5. Follow up with your pledge campaign donors.

If you’re interested in conducting a pledge campaign but you’re still unsure how exactly they differ from typical donation campaigns, read through our explainer here

Ready to get started? You’ll be planning your pledge campaign in no time!

1. Find a pledge tool with plenty of options.

You probably already have a general concept in mind for your pledge campaign. Before you get started planning specifics and logistics, though, make sure you’re using a suite of fundraising and pledge tools that are specifically designed to meet your needs.

All too often, organizations use generic payment processing and marketing tools rather than nonprofit-centric platforms that more directly address their unique needs! Dominant payment processing services are rarely the best choice for handling donations because they address a completely different user experience. Too many steps, too few options.

Your pledge campaign requires pledge-specific tools designed to help nonprofits meet their goals!

The most important features to look for when researching donation and pledge tools for an upcoming pledge campaign are streamlined user experience and flexible options. That’s because making it easier, not harder or more complicated, to pledge support is the key to success.

Pledge tools and streamlined user experience

Ensuring that your supporters can quickly and easily pledge a donation to your campaign is essential for a number of reasons:

  • Streamlined user experience keeps your donor feeling great about their pledge and reduces the chance that you’ll take them out of that giving mood.
  • A faster, more efficient process reduces the opportunities for donor abandonment, a serious issue that affects all types of organizations.
  • Making it easy and fast to pledge support is a best practice that displays respect for your donor’s time and effort.

After all, the real goal of a pledge campaign is to secure pledged support and contact information — that’s all. Slowing the process down by requiring any more data input than necessary will actively harm your campaign. Your fundraising and pledge collection tools must prioritize streamlined user experience.

Pledge tools and flexible options

A flexible suite of donation tools is crucial for any pledge campaign. Specifically, make sure that your donation and pledge platforms offer the option to complete an immediate donation if your supporter chooses to do so.

Snowball’s pledge platform, including a secure 2-click donation process, powerful text-to-give tools, and easy-to-embed email buttons, offers the perfect balance of features to let your supporters choose: Make a quick pledge, or complete their donation right then?

Simply offering the ability to choose can make a huge difference in donor satisfaction and engagement.

Either way, with Snowball the pledge or donation experience is quick, painless, and keeps your supporters focused on feeling great!

2. Build a truly compelling pledge campaign.

Pledge campaigns are the most effective when built around a specific, concrete goal or project. Ideally this goal or project is significant or emotionally-engaging enough to arouse a sense of urgency in your network of support.

Building urgency and momentum is one surefire way to carry your pledge campaign above and beyond its completion goals. 

Examples of central goals or projects that regularly motivate pledge supporters include:

  • Disaster relief for local, national, and international crises
  • Fundraising for advocacy or community work around a specific social or political issue
  • Buying your nonprofit’s rented facilities or offices to secure your future
  • Covering surprise major expenses your nonprofit has experienced
  • Raising support for a new major program or community project, like what you might propose for a large grant.

Of course, nonprofits of all sizes also find success using pledge campaigns to boost their annual fund drivesIt’s always possible to build a pledge campaign around a less urgent or high-stakes goal, but it requires a slightly different approach.

In these cases, make sure that your annual fund pledge drive still taps into an emotional connection that your donors feel with your organization. Compel your donors to pledge their support out of a sense of responsibility, love for community, and attachment to your work.

Get creative when highlighting your recent accomplishments! An annual drive focused on sustaining your growth could be a strong motivator for your devoted base of support.

3. Set up engaging pledge campaign conditions.

Here’s where the powerhouse fundraising quality of pledge campaigns and drives really kicks in.

Your pledge campaign is already built around an urgent issue, extremely relevant cause, or emotionally-compelling case for support. Now set some specific pledge conditions to ratchet up the energy!

Here are three of the most common and effective pledge campaign conditions for building momentum:

  • A tight deadline. A definite endpoint within sight is practically essential to keeping up campaign energy. Use a fundraising thermometer on your pledge campaign page and email communications for sustained impact.
  • Pledge triggers. Pledges are activated and eligible for collection only when specific goals are met, like reaching a total amount pledged, signatures received, or major gifts secured. Creating a strong sense of group effort in this way can really bring your community together.
  • Matching periods. Discuss arranging a special matching gift period with one of your major donors or corporate sponsors. Every pledge you receive during a chosen short period of time will be matched for double the impact.

These conditions build on a few surefire basic ways to boost fundraising momentum. Brainstorm some other pledge campaign conditions that could create a sense of urgency or teamwork.

Of course, the best way to develop effective pledge conditions for your pledge campaign will depend on its specifics. Remember your mission, project, exact goals, and time constraints; building your conditions with and around these 4 core elements will results in a powerful pledge campaign!

These conditions should ideally be developed well in advance of the start of your pledge campaign, including arranged matching gift periods whenever possible.

Before diving into pledge conditions, a quick note: Building energy doesn’t mean losing focus or exaggerating your needs. If your pledge campaign is built around disaster relief, for example, focus on raising support for the victims, not on promoting your nonprofit’s work. For annual pledge drives, unless your nonprofit is in genuine danger of shutting down from lack of support, don’t overstate or over-dramatize your needs.

Donors might respond well to an extremely urgent and dramatic appeal once, but you can’t always count on that a second time!

4. Keep your campaign data as organized as possible.

Every fundraising campaign requires some tidy data practices, but this is especially true for pledge campaigns and drives! You’ll need that wealth of campaign data to complete all kinds of other important tasks:

  • Track your pledge campaign’s progress
  • Follow up with pledged supporters and collect funds
  • Identify new donors and start their profiles
  • Analyze significant giving trends to guide your decisions

However, never slow down your donors or supporters with unnecessary steps! Back in the first section of this guide, we discussed streamlining the user experience of your pledge campaign. This includes data collection like extra contact information or points that you’ll only use for marketing purposes.

Instead, use fundraising and pledge software that provides an intuitive, donor-centric approach. Make sure that you’re only asking supporters for the bare minimum needed to ensure you can follow up on their pledge later. This likely includes:

  • Their name
  • Email address
  • Pledge amount
  • Phone number or mailing address

Providing the option to complete the donation immediately with payment input is a smart move, but don’t allow it to hinder the pledge process. Donors will typically be willing to provide you with more data themselves, but make sure their donations are secured first!

Use effective fundraising software for your pledge campaign to ensure your data is collected and sorted properly.

To get the most impact from this strategy, use fundraising pledge software that automatically collects and reports data as it’s generated. If your software can’t handle it, make sure the data still ends up organized in your CRM or other database. Ensuring the organized reporting of the essential data points will dramatically simplify collecting your pledges later!

5. Follow up with your pledge campaign donors.

Your team’s ability to follow up with supporters is what ultimately creates a successful pledge campaign. Never be afraid to follow up!

Remember, past due pledges are often genuinely the result of forgetfulness, so a polite reminder or two can go a long way.

Take a systematic approach to following up and collecting pledges, though. A standardized script for your letters, emails, and phone calls will yield better results than an ad hoc or individualized process. Always take the time to provide updates and final campaign results in your email newsletters, too! Supporters will appreciate knowing they’ve contributed to hitting your target.

One simple way to boost donor experience and improve your final pledge collections is to let your pledged supporters choose their preferred mode of communication. This can ensure that your collections requests won’t go completely unnoticed.

Use the data generated from your successful pledge campaign to better target and refine your next efforts! You might use it to:

  • Keep previous pledgers updated on new pledge campaigns that they’ll find interesting.
  • Determine realistic individual and total pledge amount goals based on the size and performance of your network in past campaigns.
  • Find prospective major donors within your network who pledged large donations in the past.
  • Study some key analytics and identify the marketing strategies and unique pledge conditions that proved to be effective.

Most importantly, thank your pledged donors during your drive and upon collection. Keep them in the loop on your campaign’s progress and provides any updates on your driving goal or issue.

Pledge campaigns, especially when tied to an active and effective social media presence, can dramatically grow your network of support. If many of your drive’s pledged donors are also new to your organization, take special care to foster those relationships once the campaign is over. Post-collection is also a great time to introduce your donors, new and old, to matching gifts. If they work for a company with a matching gift program, they may be able to submit a matching gift request to their employer and double the impact of their donation for your organization!

Perhaps more than any other fundraising style, pledge campaigns are an extremely impactful way to leverage the support of your network. 

With the right tools, a compelling goal, and engaging techniques your organization can easily reach new levels of fundraising success! Keep exploring additional pledge drive and fundraising resources for more inspiration and guidance:

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