Eschew the Word "Pledge"

Here is the perfect answer to the I’ll Give . . . But I Won’t Pledge syndrome.

It is impossible to successfully complete a major campaign on the basis of cash gifts only. What is required is gift-payments over an extended period. Typically in a major campaign, this is spread over a three to five year period.

Many, however, are unwilling to sign a legally binding Pledge Card because they do not want to encumber their estate. Or they feel they cannot be certain what their income will be in the future. These are the two reasons we most often hear for not indicating extended giving.

In our campaigns, we recommend that the organization does not use a Pledge Card. We favor a new form— a Gift Card. This states something such as: “I will try to give…“ or “It is my intention to give …”

For larger gifts, we use a Letter of Intent. This often works best when the form is not printed, but typed or copied on the organization’s stationery. It has also been found helpful to type in bold letters: This is not a LEGAL pledge.

Here are two samples which have worked very effectively for two of our clients.

As a member of the Board of Trustees of the________ Hospital, I recognize that we must have major replacement and modernization of our buildings, facilities, and equipment to efficiently provide excellent in-patient care at a reasonable cost. I know that sacrificial giving is required of Trustees and I therefore hope and plan on giving $_______ over the next five years. I understand that my gift will be used to assist in the current capital campaign. It is my understanding that this document merely sets forth my intention to make the gift, but does not imply a legal obligation to complete the gift. It is, also, my understanding that I may cancel any or all of this intended gift at any time. In the event of my death prior to the final payment, my estate will not have a legal obligation to complete this pledge, although I hope they will.

I recognize the needs of the _____________in the Centennial Celebration Campaign. It is my hope to give $________ over the next three years. This intention is subject to modification if my changed conditions should warrant. It is understood that this does not obligate my family or my heirs, although they may desire to complete the payment knowing of my interest in the program. It is my serious intention to carry out the foregoing plan and to support the campaign. It is also understood that I may increase the gift I have indicated if I choose to.

If worded properly, the Letter of Intent can become an effective sales piece rather than a frightening legal document or an excuse not to give.

Books by Jerold Panas (click on the cover for more information)


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