Q: I'm new to an organization that has been using the Benevon Model for several years. I notice that our Ask Event has generated many unpaid pledges (more than 10% each year).
I can see that follow-up calls have been made after the event and reminder letters sent, but some pledges never receive a single payment.
Is this common? Is there a standard rate of non-payment that we should anticipate?
Meme in New York
A: We expect a 90-95% pay-off rate for donors in the Multiple-Year Giving Society (a minimum commitment of $1,000 pledged for five years).
This presumes several things have happened once the donor makes the pledge.
- Immediately after the donor makes the gift (usually on the Ask Event follow-up call), they are thanked by your CEO/executive director for their gift and informed that you will want to stay in touch, by inviting them to donor-focused group events throughout the year or more personal one-on-one meetings, for example with your CEO. In other words, let them know that they should expect to hear from you and that they are an important part of your organization’s family.
- Throughout the course of each calendar year, each donor is invited personally by someone they know to a minimum of two Free Feel-Good Cultivation Events. These mission-focused, programmatic events serve as a reminder of what their investment is making possible for the people you serve. After these events, each donor receives a follow-up call from the Team Leader or other key staff member they know to thank them for coming and to see what other ideas they have for you.
- In addition to being invited to two Free Feel-Good Cultivation Events, these donors receive two personal cultivation contacts each year. These might include a one-on-one or small group meeting with your CEO, a phone call from a board member to thank them for their gift and to develop more of a relationship, or a personal visit to see their favorite program area in your organization.
These key cultivation steps should ensure people are fulfilling their pledges. If you aren’t following these steps, I’d encourage you to get back on track before you lose more of these donors.
If you are doing all of this and someone is still not making their pledge payments, make a personal phone call saying that it seems something may have changed in their life circumstances that might be preventing them from fulfilling the pledge. Tell them you’d love to connect and see if there’s another way they want to support the mission and to get an update. If you don’t hear back, make one more contact saying you won’t follow up again, and then consider the pledge “defaulted” and write it off for that year.