The purpose of pledge cards is garnering donations. But when it comes to how many ask amounts to include on your pledge card, there are a variety of things to consider.
What is a Pledge Card?
First, let’s start by understanding what a pledge card is. A pledge card is a fundamental way of soliciting donations for your event or nonprofit. They typically take the form of a small (think: a half sheet of paper or smaller) piece of literature that essentially asks people to commit to donating a certain amount of money—either one-time or recurring over time. Different types of pledge cards include: capital campaign pledge card, church pledge cards, church capital campaign pledge card, church stewardship pledge cards, annual appeal pledge cards, and general donation pledge cards.
Nonprofits will often use direct mail fundraising to distribute their pledge cards, or depending on the situation, they may even hand them out in person (such as at an event) and collect them on the spot.
Common organizations that use donation cards to receive donations include: charities, religious groups and other nonprofit organizations.
Pledge Card Best Practices
Well-designed cards are simple, but they do cover a lot of ground. Here are some sample components of an effective pledge card.
- Allow space for givers to write their name and other contact information such as their home or email address and telephone number (in the case of direct mailings, this can be pre-printed).
- Include check boxes where people can indicate with a tick mark what their desired ask amount is or write in their donation on a designated spot.
- Ask a giver if their donation is meant to be one-time or recurring (weekly, monthly, yearly) and if they’d like to pay by credit card, check or other.
- Include directions directing donors on what to do once they’ve filled out the pledge card (i.e., mail it back to a certain address, place in their mailbox, drop off at a location, etc.).
- Add information on how the donor can give online or find more information on the organization’s website.
- Utilize the space you have, making the pledge card double-sided (commonly, nonprofits will include a design on the front and text on the back).
- Provide alternative ways to make a gift, such as stock, IRA or donor-advised fund.
- Put a phone number or email address on it to make it easy for the donor to contact you to make their gift, if these are options at your nonprofit.
Displaying the Right Ask Amounts
The most important part of a pledge card is soliciting for actual donations. The money being requested is known as the “ask amount” – and having more than one ask amount is typically called an “ask string” or “ask array.”
While it is certainly up the organization how many ask amounts they’d like to offer, best practices and experienced fundraising professionals will indicate that a choice of three to four set amounts along with an option of a “fill-in-the-blank” amount is most effective. For example, a non-profit may suggest the following ask amounts: $25, $50, $100, and $____.
Why not provide more than four asks in an ask string? Although people in western civilization do like their choices, when given too many alternatives people can delay decisions or experience negative emotions. This is colloquially known as “analysis paralysis”—providing so many options that the end user freezes up and is unable to take any action at all—and it is something that fundraisers should actively avoid instigating.
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