Question Marc: Is online pledging a good option?

Here's a question that appeared on LinkedIn.com:

Question:
If donors that have the option to give online would it be a good idea to give them the ability make online pledges?

Here's My Answer:
If you're asking as a nonprofit looking at implementing a system, my answer in a word is NO!

I've worked with nonprofits across the country for over 10 years. Clients never cite "online pledging" as a source of funding.

The web is an instant gratification medium. Donors wanting to make a gift will want to do it now.

As the previous folks have said, people will give bigger gifts if they can split it up over time. But that usually takes a one on one conversation.

I'd recommend having an online giving set-up that allows donors to "make this a monthly gift." For years, I've offered "monthly, quarterly, and annual" options on the Inland Foundation website but that seems to REALLY confuse people.

Plus, you have to have really good systems in place to "collect" on the pledges. That's usually a burden for the smaller shops (unless it's for a capital campaign where the gifts are larger.)

But if you're asking as a business owner looking to market to nonprofits, online pledging could be a useful option to help make sales. And you can use the other answers to come up with a sales presentation selling them on the value of pledging.

If you haven't read it yet, go get a copy of Seth Godin's "The Big Red Fez." It's a short book on web design. His premise is that when we sit in front of a web page we're all like organ grinder monkeys, we just want to know "where's the banana."

Effective websites make the banana really obvious, like Google.com. It's clear what you're supposed to do: search.

Yahoo.com is so confusing it can hinder people's response.

And too often, we do that in the non-profit world. We want to be sure all the options are out there, that we confuse the donor.

Oy, this has gotten long! To sum up, if you want to raise money online, I'd recommend NOT making pledging an option.

[You can see all the answers by going to: http://www.linkedin.com/answers/government-non-profit/charity-non-profit/GOV_CNP/198274-7495757]

About Marc Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the author of "Ask Without Fear!" and founder of FundraisingCoach.com and the weekly email service “Fundraising Kick.” A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family!

Follow him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.

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