There are two main ways to track long-term donor commitments in Virtuous: Pledges and Recurring Gifts. While both reflect future giving commitments, they do have very different structures and uses.
Pledges represent a commitment by a donor to give a specific sum of money by a certain date. A pledge commitment may involve an agreement on a specific payment schedule, or it may be more fluid. The key is that a donor has committed to a total dollar amount.
You can create a pledge in Virtuous on a Contact record or in the Gift & Contact Import tool. Once you have entered the amount, pledge date, frequency, and expected fulfillment date, Virtuous will automatically build out the schedule of payments. When creating a pledge on a Contact record, you’ll see the additional frequency option of “Custom,” which will allow you to build your own payment schedule manually.
Recurring Gifts, on the other hand, are an agreement by a donor to give a set amount at regularly scheduled intervals, generally via a scheduled credit card payment, echeck, or bank transfer. Critically, a recurring gift does NOT represent a commitment to any total dollar amount; a donor may choose to stop their recurring donation at any time.
Recurring Gifts are often created as part of the import process, especially in cases where donors may set up a recurring donation online, via Virtuous Giving or another partner integration. If a donor gives a $25 Gift online and chooses to make it a recurring monthly donation, you will see both the $25 Gift and the “Create Recurring Gift” toggle will be selected, with the recurring frequency listed below. There are two checkboxes for Recurring Gifts, which will be checked by default when importing: Automated Payments and Track Payments.
The Automated Payment checkbox is a flag to identify Recurring Gifts that are scheduled to be charged or posted automatically, as is generally the case for credit card or echeck gifts. Some donors may choose to send in a check each month instead; in these cases, since you’ll need to manually create the Recurring Gifts, you’ll also uncheck the Automatic Payments option, This is particularly useful in identifying which donors may need a payment reminder sent each month.
The Track Payments option means that Virtuous will create a schedule of expected payments, which can be used to link Gifts to recurring payments, and will also track past due balances for missed payments. This is essential for tracking things like recurring payment fulfillment via the Virtuous dashboard. When tracking payments, you will have the option to forgive any missed payments, if necessary, so that donors who have missed a payment but wish to continue their recurring support will not continue to be marked as past due.
When a Gift is entered in the Gift and Contact Import tool, Virtuous will automatically look to match it with any expected recurring payments. Virtuous will use the Contact, Gift date, Amount, and Project to establish matches wherever possible. Because both Gifts and Recurring Gifts can be split among multiple Projects, Virtuous will match at the Project Split level when Project data is present. In cases where there is no Project on a Gift, but the Amount, Contact, and Date match to an expected payment, Virtuous will match to the recurring gift payment and add the Project designation to the Gift.
Pledge payments will not be matched automatically. Instead, begin typing in the “Pledge field to find the pledge payment you wish to select and then match it to a Gift during gift entry.
If there is a Passthrough Giver identified for a particular Gift, you will see additional fields allowing you to match a Gift to a Recurring Gift payment or pledge payment on the Passthrough Giver’s record.
Pledges and Recurring Gifts are both vital for the success of your organization, but there is so much more to learn. Check out some of the other videos in our Gift Entry series to keep leveling up your know-how.