The success of a capital campaign relies heavily on the ability to request, secure, and collect pledges from donors.

Multi-year pledges are the secret sauce for capital campaign fundraising because they provide a sense of commitment for donors and allow organizations to plan and budget effectively. Pledges also enable organizational leaders to solicit larger gifts than a donor might make otherwise if they needed to make the gift in a single year.

Why Pledges Matter for a Capital Campaign

Pledges are a form of commitment from donors to make a specific contribution to a campaign over a specified period (generally three to five years). We recommend three years in most cases because your organization needs the funds to begin your project. The sooner you can collect pledge payments, the sooner you can put a shovel in the ground.

Pledges also provide a sense of accountability for donors, as they have committed to making a specific contribution and are more likely to follow through with their commitment.

To get donors to make a multi-year pledge, it is important to provide them with clear and compelling information about the campaign and how their contribution will make an impact. It’s important to build relationships with donors and make sure they understand the importance of their contribution to the campaign’s success.

How to Collect Pledge Payments for Your Campaign

One of the best ways to collect pledge payments is through a pledge tracking system. This system allows you to track pledges and follow up with donors to ensure they are meeting their commitments.

Get Creative and Personal

However, you don’t want to send pledge reminders that appear to be bills — a common mistake among nonprofits. Be creative with pledge reminders — make them personal and meaningful. Tell a story and provide a timely update with each reminder.

Apply Clear and Consistent Donor Communication

Along those lines, another important aspect of collecting pledge payments is to have clear and consistent communication with donors. This includes sending regular updates on the campaign’s progress and how their contributions are making an impact, between requests for collecting pledges.

It goes without saying that you will have thanked donors for their contributions and have recognized their generosity in a variety of ways prior to requesting a pledge payment.

Provide Simple Payment Options

Finally, you will want to provide donors with a variety of payment options, such as:

  • automatic payments
  • an online giving system
  • self-addressed return envelopes with a personalized letter

The goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to fulfill their pledge.

Neglecting Pledges Can Ruin Your Capital Campaign

Imagine for a moment, the end of a successful campaign…

You’ve worked hard and donors have made commitments for the success of your project. At the end of your campaign, the development director moves on to bigger and better opportunities, as often happens, thanks to completing a successful campaign.

Unfortunately, there’s no system in place to effectively track or collect pledges. So the final 25% of outstanding gifts are neglected and never collected.

In this scenario, did you actually have a successful campaign? Did you actually raise your goal?

While this might sound far-fetched, it happens more often than you think. Don’t let this happen to your campaign.

Pledges Truly Are a Campaign’s Secret Sauce

To collect pledge payments, a pledge tracking system and consistent communication with donors is essential. That’s why pledges — and everything that goes along with them — are the secret sauce for capital campaign fundraising.

The ultimate success of your campaign rests on your ability to not only secure pledges, but to collect them too!


  1. Teresa Underwood

    Do you have example pledge letters for payment?


    • Amy Eisenstein

      Toolkit members have access to a library of samples and materials. However, this should be personal to your organization and your story.

  2. Maura Byrnes

    Yes! Case in point: I started a new position 9/1 and among my first visits was to a couple who pledged a three-year commitment five years ago and had not paid the installments. I was friendly, professional and curious. They were not defensive and shared that they had not received updates. I was aware of numerous updates that had been sent in a variety of ways: mail, social media, publications and reports. They wanted, needed really, personal face-to-face communication. At the end of our visit they handed me a check in the full amount.

    • Amy Eisenstein

      Hooray! What a great story. Thank you for sharing.


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