In Tony's blog post, Financial vs. Development, he discusses two different possibilities on pledges-- are they a firm commitment, or are they more a promise to make a contribution in the future. This might seem like semantics, but when it comes to financial tracking, you would want to handle them differently. Here's an article from previous FundRaiser lead trainer, Larry Weaver, that helps you decide how you might want to handle these two different situations.
1. Divide and Conquer: Pledge or Promise?
First, it's good to know whether your pledges are better tracked through FundRaiser's Pledge Module (optional in Select, included in Professional) or not. That will depend on the make-up of the pledge itself.
If a person (or organization) promises to give you a particular gift in the future, and will be giving it to you in one payment, then you don't need to use the Pledge Module, necessarily. The determining factor, in this case, might be whether you need to track promised payments as "accounts receivable" for accounting purposes. If so, you'll probably want to use the Pledge Module, as it makes it easier to do. If not, then you may just need to use the Gift Type Code "Later - Promise to Pay", to record a pledged amount.
If you set payment deadlines, then you may want to set the Gift Date as the promised date (rather than the date the pledge was made), so that you'll later be able to Group together anyone with a gift/pledge due during a particular time period.
Another reason to use the Pledge Module would be for pledges that adhere to the usual FundRaiser definition of a pledge: A promise to pay a certain amount of money in increments over a given period of time. This complicates things by necessitating a payment schedule, recording of individual payments, keeping track of balance due, etc., which the Pledge Module is designed to do.
2. Use Automated Correspondence Efficiently
Whether it is considered a pledge or a "promise to pay", each gift promise can easily generate a letter of thanks, with the amount (and/or terms) and expected date of payment.
In the case of the Pledge Module, that's taken into account when you enter the pledge information, with the total of the pledge, payment amounts, and first due date, any or all of which can be mentioned in a letter generated using the integrated word processor and special Merge Fields/Functions.
In the case of a "Promise to Pay" gift, you can do virtually the same thing by crafting a "Thank You" letter that mentions the amount and payment date (the gift date, mentioned in #1 above). You may even have a mix of pledge and "promise" entries, if you have no need to keep track of accounts receivable, yet have both "styles" of pledges, and then BOTH types of automated correspondence may come in handy.
3. Explore Ways of Grouping by Gift/Pledge Information
If you have "Promises", then you'll want to group people who have made promises but haven't yet paid. This is easy to do, since you'll have the Gift Type Code, as well as the Gift Date to use (mentioned in #1 above). Of course, when you receive a payment, you'll need to visit that gift record, change the Type Code from "Promise" to "General", and (possibly) change the gift date to reflect the actual payment date.
If you have the Pledge Module, you won't need to create Groupings to send reminders, as that is built into the system. You may, however, want to be able to Group together those who have made a pledge in the past, or those who have "inactive" pledges, or those who have made gifts with a "Pledge Payment" Gift Type Code.
For more information on how the Pledge Module can assist you