Following Up on Donor Pledges

At one time or another, every campaign has faced the problem of donors who pledge contributions but don’t ever make good on those pledges.  Campaigns count on the money that is pledged to pay for their political activities, and when contributions don’t come in, it can be a real problem. 

A truism in fundraising is that a certain percentage of the pledges you receive will fail to come in.  Rarely will a campaign receive contributions from 100% of those who pledge to contribute.  There are several tactics your campaign can use, however, to maximize the number of pledges that actually become campaign contributions:

1.  Follow Up Immediately

The most important strategy for turning pledges into dollars is to immediately follow up with every person who makes a pledge.  Each potential donor who promises the campaign money should receive a reminder from the campaign that mentions the campaign, the date the pledge was made and the amount of the promised contribution.

The best way to gently remind your contributors to act is to send them a thank-you note immediately after you speak with them.  Thank them for pledging, remind them how much they pledged and when, and remind them why their pledge is so important to your campaign.

2.  Make it Easy

Whenever you follow up on a pledge, make it easy for people to send you a contribution.  Send them a pre-addressed envelope along with the thank-you note, and along with any other follow-ups you make.  You can also consider sending postage-paid envelopes to those who make pledges to make it even easier for them to respond.

3.  Be Relentless

Many candidates are wary of sending out reminders or making follow up calls to potential donors for fear of offending them.  Don’t be.  Remember, people who make pledges to your campaign have invested in you – they like your campaign, and want to support it financially.  More often than not, the reason pledged contributions don’t come in is because donors simply forgot.  Use common sense, but don’t be afraid to remind contributors about pledges they made one, two, three times or more.

4.  Make it Personal

The single most effective pledge collection tactic in your campaign’s arsenal is a personal call from the candidate.  When letters and reminders don’t work, have the candidate make a call to the donor thanking them for their pledge and letting them know why their contribution is urgent.  Whether used as a last resort or as a simple follow up, a personal call from the candidate is your number one tactic for turning donor pledges into campaign dollars.


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