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Pledge to Win

  • 1.  Pledge to Win

    Posted 09-06-2021 05:12 PM

    Hi Everyone,

    Does anyone experience with "pledge to win" initiatives where a donor's credit card is charged a predetermined amount when their favorite athletic team wins.  How have you been managing this?  Our main questions have to do with holding credit card numbers, what kind of volume to expect, limiting the designation of the gifts.  Are there third-party venders who offer services to facilitate such initiatives?

    Thanks in advance!

    Nancy Randazzo
    Director of Gift and Fund Administration
    University of Montana Foundation

  • 2.  RE: Pledge to Win

    Posted 09-06-2021 06:22 PM
    I ran into one institution that did this every week during football, and it was a real pain.  I can only imagine the added pain if this was offered for a sport like baseball!  See an alternate solution below.

    As you can imagine, the last thing you want to do is store credit card information - anywhere.  Sure, recurring and sustaining giving works really well.  But 92.5% of the time, you are using a vendor geared for that sort of thing.  And the credit card information is safeguarded by them and hidden from you, and the dollar amounts are the same every month for a set or indefinite period.

    Not so with these schemes.

    And I am not comfortable storing the credit card information in my own CRM.

    This one client felt the same way.  So they stored the credit cards in a vault that was under a 24/7 camera watch.  Okay, that covered PCI.

    But, they had a winning team.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that a staff member had to process 350+ credit cards nearly every week manually.  The worse news is that new people were signing up every week, and others were dropping off.  The worser news is that many donors wanted to change the amount during the course of the season given the football team's success.  Yuk.

    This was 5-6 years ago, and maybe there's a better system out there or vendors that offer greater flexibility.  If so, I hope someone lets us know!

    However, absent a better-automated system, consider this alternative:
    • Have donors sign an agreement and the outset agreeing to a single charge at the end of the season for the number of wins multiplied by a set dollar amount
    • Have donors sign an optional line in the same agreement for an additional amount for each post-season win
    • Track the date donors signed up
    • Track the football team record (I bet someone already does this)
    • Record a pledge at the end of the year for the total amount due based on when the donor signed up and the number of wins - plus post-season play
    • Send an electronic pledge reminder for the amount due, including a link to the online donation site
    You should probably specify the Annual Fund in the original gift agreement - I'd not make it easy for donors to pick and choose.  However, by making just a single credit card donation - online - at the end of the season, the donor can obviously select a different fund when they go to make their gift.


    John H. Taylor
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987

  • 3.  RE: Pledge to Win

    Posted 09-09-2021 09:09 AM
    Nancy, I don't know of a vendor that's providing this service, but it's a relatively easy functionality to build if you're using a payment gateway like Stripe. The devil is generally not on the payment automation side, but on the donor side. Building out an interface to enable donors to manage their pledges is a more substantial lift.

    Thank you,
    Isaac Shalev
    Data Strategy Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151

    Schedule a 30-minute consultation now:

  • 4.  RE: Pledge to Win

    Posted 09-08-2021 11:43 AM

    Either Annual Fund or Athletics Director Discretionary Fund or ONE SPORT.   I'm just offering the two other athletic options because 1) I think this "idea" would most likely originate with the Athletics Office, and 2) they would 99.99999% NOT want the money going to a non-Athletics fund.  Just my 2c.




    Eric F. Valdescaro

    Senior Director, Advancement Services

    University Advancement

    The University of Memphis