Pledge software — a secret weapon for nonprofits that know raising money is all about speed.
Launching a pledge campaign can generate a lot of support for your cause quickly, but it does require forethought and planning. The pledge software you choose to use plays a big role in the campaign’s success or failure.
We’ve written about pledge drives before, but we’ll recap the basics here:
What is a fundraising pledge?
A fundraising pledge is the promise of a donation that will be paid and processed by a specific point in the future. Today, pledges are almost always processed online.
Learn more about the differences between traditional donations and pledges with our guide here.
How do you run a pledge campaign?
Running a pledge fundraising campaign should start with its purpose. Pledge drives are often conducted in response to disasters, political developments, or unexpected challenges that your organization is facing. This is why it’s a good idea to always have a suite of streamlined pledge fundraising software on hand in case of an emergency or great opportunity.
Set specific campaign conditions to motivate your audience. These could include tight deadlines, matching gift periods, or pledge triggers.
Finally, once the pledge drive itself comes to a close, the next step is collecting the pledges you received. Following a few best practices and using the right tools from the start can really simplify this step. Once you’ve collected the pledged funds, look to your data and analyze your performance. How can you improve the next time around?
How do you use pledge campaign software?
Now, let’s dig deeper into some key concepts to keep in mind about pledge software as you begin planning a campaign. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The essential role of pledge software
- Benefits of using dedicated pledge software
- Essentials to look for in pledge tools
Use the list above to jump to a specific section, or follow along from the top.
The Essential Role of Pledge Software
The tools you use can have a huge impact on the results of your pledge drive. To understand how specific UX elements of your pledge software translate to increased pledge revenue, you have to take a closer look at the pledge donation process itself.
Understanding the Pledge Donation Process
Your existing community of donors loves your mission, but you can’t just rely on their support year-over-year. You have to reach new audiences in order to grow your base of support, and there’s a lot of competition for the attention of new donors!
The best way to catch the attention of new donors or pledgors is to emotionally connect with them via your message. Appealing to their emotions is a powerful way to motivate a reader or viewer to donate.
Once you’ve engaged them emotionally, you have to do everything you can to keep them engaged. This requires speed, and it’s why pledge drives are so effective at expanding nonprofit audiences.
Your mission alone won’t be enough to secure a lot of new support if the process to make a donation is clunky or slow. That’s because a poor online experience will completely ruin the emotional connection you’ve started building. A slow process makes potential supporters think too much about the process itself:
- How much will they donate?
- Which card will they use?
- How long will it take to enter the required information?
Too many questions! You want to secure their support now and start building a long-term relationship, but you can’t do that if they change their mind the very first time.
Pledge drives help you avoid this problem altogether. They let your supporters feel inspired to pledge their support quickly and easily, improving your chances of building a valuable long-term relationship with them. Preserve the emotional connection and remove friction around the pledge process to generate more energy and support with your campaign.
Here at Snowball, our mission is to provide more nonprofits the tools they need to build relationships with new donors. We prioritize speed and great UX to ensure that your new supporters will stay focused on your mission rather than get distracted or turned off by the process itself.
Our fundraising philosophy boils down to 3 core steps:
1. Don’t kill the donor’s buzz.
2. Master the art of securing a card.
3. Focus on recurring donors.
We discuss each step of this fundraising strategy in greater depth in this guide to driving more conversions with your donation page. Pledge drives and pledge software are perfectly suited for the first step — don’t kill the donor’s buzz.
How Pledge Software Fits into Your Fundraising Strategy
Remember, successful fundraising is all about speed. You need to make it easy and fast for your donors to access your fundraising page, pledge a donation, give you only the essential information you need, and then get out. A quick and easy first interaction will greatly increase the chances that you’ll be able to continue growing that relationship.
This lets them stay focused on feeling motivated by your mission and feeling good that they did something to help you.
Effective pledge software will help you quickly secure support while strengthening your pledgor’s emotional connection with your cause. Look for software that lets you secure a card on file and set up a recurring donation for ideal results.
Look at it this way:
Out of 1,000 potential donors, 900 chose to pledge a donation using a pledge-style fundraising page. Of those 900, 85% of them followed through to complete their pledged donations. 397 of those donors also chose to create an online account with the organization because it was easy and quick to do so. That’s nearly 400 new donors eager to stay engaged in the long-term.
Compare this to traditional donation pages — only about 250 out of 1,000 of potential donors actually bother to complete the donation process at all. You leave a ton of money on the table that way.
Let’s say each of these donors makes a gift of $125. With traditional donation pages, that gives you $31,250. With pledge software, you raise $95,625.
Benefits of Using Dedicated Pledge Software
We’ve already touched on most of these benefits, so let’s recap the major ones. Pledge campaign software will help your nonprofit:
- Reduce friction in the donation process. This makes it faster and easier for supporters to pledge a gift and then complete it.
- Convert more potential donors into secured ones. More pledgors will complete their gifts than you’d be able to convert using regular donation pages.
- Conduct more energetic campaigns. Time-sensitive pledge drives are perfect for building momentum around your cause.
- Increase your number of contacts. Build an audience with a proven interest in your mission by conducting a high-volume pledge drive.
Use donation tools specifically designed to support pledge-style fundraising. When compared to traditional donation pages, pledge software offers clear benefits that will take your campaigns to the next level.
Essential Features to Look For in Pledge Tools
The specific look and feel of every donation tool will be different. When you’re in the market for online pledge software, though, there are two core things to keep in mind:
Pledge drive software must give users a streamlined user experience.
Remember that the core purpose of a pledge drive is to secure pledged support and contact information — that’s all you need. Asking for anything more than that will drive away potential supporters right off the bat. The faster the process, the fewer opportunities for your donor to drop out and abandon the pledge.
Pledge software should offer flexible options for you and your donors.
Ideally, your pledge software will come as part of a larger suite of donation tools that can be adapted for different purposes.
For pledge drives, the most important option to offer users is the ability to complete their donation right then if they choose. Never force your pledgors to complete their donation — that would defeat the whole purpose. Offering the choice to enter their payment info after submitting the pledge, though, is an easy way to secure more support and boost donor engagement.
Look for a donation platform that offers core donation functions, pledge fundraising options, and even text-to-give tools. With more features available, you can fine-tune your strategies to keep the process focused on the donor’s experience. Explore the Snowball suite of fundraising tools to learn more about the kinds of functions to look for.
A well-planned, high-volume pledge drive can be a game changer for your organization. Just make sure you’re using the right tools to support your goals!
It’s difficult to execute a pledge-style campaign when your donation tools force supporters to spend a long time completing forms and clicking buttons. Keep it simple.
For more ideas and strategies to incorporate into your next campaign, keep exploring with some additional resources:
- Top 8 PayPal Alternatives. Generic payment processors don’t offer the flexibility and features that nonprofits need. Explore some top alternatives to consider.
- Increasing Your Donation Page Conversion Rate by Soapbox Engage. Study up with some tips for strengthening your traditional fundraising campaigns.
- How to Collect Pledges: 6 Steps. Collecting pledges after your drive can be greatly simplified by following a set process. Check out our recommended steps.