Collecting Pledges

Kim Klein photoDear Kim:

A donor recently promised a donation of $2500 but hasn’t paid it.  How can I collect this money?  We could really use it but don’t want to be rude.

~Accounts Receivable

Dear Accounts:

Here is the protocol for collecting pledges: 

1)      The donor makes a commitment in person or in writing to an organization. 

2)     Someone from the organization immediately (within 48 hours) follows up with a thank you that specifies the amount and the way it is to be paid: “Thank you for your pledge of $2500, and thanks in advance for sending it in by Oct 1.  It really helps.” 

3)     A week or so after the date you have both agreed on, send an e-mail saying, “We haven’t received your donation yet, and want to make sure it hasn’t gone astray in the mail.   Just let me know if you need anything else from us.” 

4)     Wait a month and if there is still no sign of money, call the donor and ask about it.

You will see in this protocol some places in which the organization can go wrong.  Generally it starts with a failure to name the date by which the donation will be paid in the first meeting.  But it can also be a failure to remind the donor.  People get busy, they lose return envelopes, they can’t figure out how to pay on-line, their spouse can’t believe they committed that much, etc. 

It is also true that some people say YES and mean “NO.”  So we always build in a 10% bad pledge rate.  After 4-5 reminders and no word at all, let it go.