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Pledges in DONATION
DONATION has a range of options for recording your donor's pledges. By using the options on the Pledges tab of the Maintenance ⇒ Main Window Options window,you can switch between options for a Simple Annual Pledge, which applies to all categories of donation, or Annual with Start Date and Category, or Multi-Year pledges. You can also select a default category for pledges, if you are using one of the two options other than Simple Annual Pledge. And finally, for the first two pledging types (but not Multi-Year), you can select an option for "Pledges are on a fiscal year basis". Please read the Help on the Pledges tab to fully understand these options.
Note: Prior to version 3.35 of DONATION, the Pledges tab was not present, and DONATION largely functioned the way the Simple Annual Pledge option on that tab now functions.
Also, only the Simple Annual Pledge option is available in the free Lite version of DONATION
The program has no capacity to handle pledges for any fraction of a year (for example weekly or monthly pledges). With the Multi-Year option, you can specify the frequency that the donor intends to pay, but you still specify the pledge amounts on an annual basis. There is also no capacity to have distinct pledges for different categories of donations for the same donor, such as one amount for the General fund, and another amount for the Building fund. If you absolutely need that, you will either have to somehow track the additional pledges outside of DONATION, or choose a different program with more detailed pledging features.
To put this another way, only one pledge can be defined for each donor in each year.
Data Entry of Pledges
In the Donor Details area, there is an Annual Pledge field. If you do not use pledges at all, you can remove that field from the display with a checkbox on the Donor Details tab of the Maintenance ⇒ Main Window Options window, and you can ignore the rest of this Help topic!
With the Simple Annual Pledge option, you enter the amount that each donor has pledged to donate in the current year, in the Annual Pledge field.
With the other two options, the Annual Pledge field is changed to not be editable, and instead has a drop-down arrow added to it. You click on the drop-down arrow, or right-click in the field, and a popup menu appears with the option "Edit Pledge Details". Selecting that option takes you to a separate window - either the Single-Year Pledge Details window, or the Multi-Year Pledge Details window, depending on which option you have selected on the Pledges tab of Maintenance ⇒ Main Window Options. You do all of your editing of the pledge information in that window.
If you are using either Annual with Start Date and Category or Multi-Year pledges, once you have set up a pledge for the donor, the Annual Pledge field gets renamed to Current Pledge, and displays the current year's pledge amount for that donor.
Entry of Donations Towards Pledges
With a simple annual pledge that is not for a specified donation category, any donation during that year counts towards fulfilling the pledge.
With pledges that are for a specified donation category, any donation for that category during that year counts towards fulfilling the pledge.
You do not have to do anything, when recording those donations, to indicate that they are towards the pledge. The program just automatically matches them against the pledge in relevant reporting.
If you have entered an Annual Pledge for a donor and no longer want it, just delete that field's contents.
If you are using either of the more complex pledge types, in the editing window for that type of pledge, delete the Pledge Amount or Pledge Total field's contents, and click OK. You will be prompted to confirm whether you wish to remove all pledging information for this donor. Answer Yes if you do wish to do that, and it will be deleted.
Reporting on Pledges
The reports on Pledge Information that are available vary, depending on which type of pledging data entry you selected, via the Pledges tab of Maintenance ⇒ Main Window Options.
Please see the details of the Reports ⇒ Pledge sub-menu for full information on the reports that are available.
You can also include the all relevant pledge-related fields in any Custom Reports that you create.
Mail Merge Letters
Prior to version 3.35 of DONATION, in which more complex pledging was introduced, pledge-related mail merge letters were done via the Donor Information or Total Donations Information letters, which included (and still include) a «Pledge» merge field, which is the donor's Annual Pledge amount, a «TotalAmount» field, and an «OutstandingAmount» field. The «OutstandingAmount» is the pledge amount (or 0, for donors with no Annual Pledge) minus the «TotalAmount» value. Note: For Donor Information letters, the «TotalAmount» is the total donated for the entire year, whereas for Total Donations Information letters, the «TotalAmount» is the total donated over date range within the year that you can specify.
However, starting in version 3.35, there is a new "Pledge Information" option for mail-merge letters, which is a better choice for writing to donors about their pledges and their donations towards fulfilling those pledges, both because when you are doing a mass mailing it selects only donors who have pledges, and because for the more complex pledging types, you can include all of the relevant data about the pledge and the donor's donations towards that pledge in the letters. Sample mail-merge letters are provided as the default letters for each of the three pledging types.
For more details on this, see the Help pages on mass mailings and merge fields. The latter lists all of the merge fields that can be included in Pledge Information mail-merge letters, separated out by the pledging type selected on the Pledges tab of Maintenance ⇒ Main Window Options.
Pledges and Fiscal Years
Normally a pledge is considered to be for all or part of a calendar year. However, if you have set up a fiscal year different from the calendar year in the Maintenance ⇒ Organization Info window, and checked the "Pledges are on a fiscal year basis" checkbox on the Pledges tab of Maintenance ⇒ Main Window Options, this all changes. (That checkbox is only available for the Simple Annual Pledge and Annual with Start Date and Category pledge types - introducing it for Multi-Year pledges would be too complicated.)
If you check the "Pledges are on a fiscal year basis" checkbox and are using the Annual with Start Date and Category pledge type, any existing pledge Start Dates you have entered will be ignored, and the editing window for pledges has the Start Date field removed. That is because pledges are then assumed to always be for an entire fiscal year.
There is a complication with data entry of pledge information when you are doing them on a fiscal year basis. The pledge information is part of the donor information, which is stored on a calendar year basis, so it is not obvious which fiscal year it should apply to. The way this is resolved is that once your fiscal year end has passed, you need to create any Pledge Information mail merge letters and pledge reports that you want for that fiscal year that just ended. (Of course, you can take your time doing this.) Once you have finished with that, make any changes to the donors' pledge data, to make it be for the next fiscal year, that has just started. You will then be able to use that revised pledge information in Pledge Information mail merge letters and pledge reports for the next fiscal year.
When you go to create Pledge Information mail merge letters and pledge reports (including Custom Reports), you may be prompted to specify which fiscal year you want them to be created for. There are actually three cases. To make this concrete, suppose your fiscal year starts on June 1, and you are in the 2016 calendar year.
1.If it is on or before your May 31, 2016 fiscal year end, the 2016 fiscal year (June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016) will always be used, with a message explaining that fact.
2.If it is on or after your June 1, 2016 fiscal year start, but you have not yet initialized the 2017 year (with the Maintenance ⇒ Change Year menu option) and started entering donations for it, you will be prompted as to whether to use the prior fiscal year (June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016) or the current fiscal year (June 1, 2016 to May 31, 2017).
3.If it is on or after your June 1, 2016 fiscal year start, but you have already initialized the 2017 year and started entering donations for it, the 2016 fiscal year (June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016) will always be used as in the first case. (However, you will be given a message, explaining that if you wish to use the current fiscal year instead, you can switch to that calendar year with Maintenance ⇒ Change Year and then do so.)