Seeking Pledges vs. Immediate Donations

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Adrianne Geiger Dumond



The Wall Street Journal recently posted an interesting article[1] on the benefits of asking donors for pledges rather than immediate donations. The authors had conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of the use of pledges. Their assumption was that donors might pledge today, but not be able to donate right away. They might be able to experience the joy of giving today if they didn’t have to donate immediately.

The article neglects to state the size of the study population, but donors were asked to make binding pledges, nonbinding pledges, and donations on the spot. While the nonbinding participants created a 100% increase in the number of donors, the contributions did not materialize. Allowing the donors to make a binding pledge, increased the number of donors by 30%.

A very interesting outcome came from a third group in the study who were asked for a nonbinding pledge. They were sent a ‘thank you’ immediately after pledging, and another ‘thank you ‘a week before the pledge was due. This strategy produced an increase of 35% over the immediate donors.

Fundraisers know the importance of thank yous, but these findings might say that more are needed – even if it requires more accurate bookkeeping.

WSJ[1] ‘When a ‘Maybe’ beats a ‘Yes’ by Dr. James Andreoni and Dr. Marta Serra-Garcia, University of California, San Diego, Dec. 14. 2015

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,