The Dreaded P-Word

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Published May 23, 2016

The Dreaded P-Word

The very term sends shivers and tremors into the heart of even the strong and fearless.

The term is “pledge card.” THE PLEDGE CARD!

Let me set the scene. The presentation was dazzling. The probable donor is very excited about the program. It’s obvious he wants to join you in this cause.

You happen to mention a pledge. In no uncertain terms, he says, “I’ll give this year, but I absolutely won’t sign a Pledge Card.

“I don’t know what the world is going to be like in the next couple years. I don’t want my estate to have to worry about this. I’m concerned about the future. And my health. My finances.”

I’ve heard it so often, I wondered why I don’t do something about it.

Well . . . I did.

I eschewed the dreaded word pledge. I now call it a Gift Card.

Changing the name may seem a trifling difference. (It’s the trifling differences that make a big difference!).

I make it clear in the Gift Card that it is not legally binding. It only reflects the donor’s intention of wanting to do something in the future. The wording goes something like this:

It is my intention over the next three years to make a gift to ABC of $100,000. If for any reason at all I find I am not able to make a payment following the first year, I will call the Development Office. They will postpone or cancel my gift, at my choice. I understand this Gift of Intention is not legally binding and does not encumber my estate.

I make it clear to the donor that this represents only their intention. “It’s not legally binding. It only represents what you would like to do, assuming your health is good, the family is doing well, and business is in good condition. You can cancel at any time you wish.”

Your Finance Office will tell you it can’t be counted because it isn’t irrevocable. And I say, don’t let the Finance Office run your campaign. If necessary, they can keep a separate set of books about what they want to count.

The amazing thing is, there is less attrition on Gifts of Intent than there are on legally binding pledges. Tell that to your Finance Office!