I don't personally sign pledges of any kind. It is a personal thing that is partly because I can't remember stuff without my Blackberry, and partly because I'm not omniscient.
I can't see far enough into the future to feel comfortable signing away some portion of my life, and financial support, to an idea or a notion.
Given the ups and downs in my own personal life, I truly only feel comfortable giving in the here and now, or allowing for something to be bequeathed in the afterlife
The first time financial pledges came into my sphere, I was as a little girl in church. I remember that the minister wanted us to pledge our tithes for the year. I do remember filling out the envelope, because I thought I was so cool in being able to contribute something to keep the church in business.
I had no idea that, because I was a kid, the church just quietly added my cute little pledge to a scrapbook or something, and I was never held to the commitment. It sure felt like I was doing something important at the time.
The next time I can recall pledges was for telethons. While I understand the necessity for telethons, they used to be brutal occupations of airtime with unceasing pleas for your money. These are still done in some form, by outfits like public television.
One of the hallmarks of this kind of pledge drive is the "pledge room," where banks of volunteers answer (audibly) ringing phones as the announcers deliver their plea. I think this is designed to create the idea that you can see who answers your call, and perhaps, the announcer will reward you with verbal approbation: "Good boy!"
When I was doing my homework for this article, I typed in "Purpose of the Pledge." The two most frequent returns on my search were arguments around "The Pledge of Allegiance" and the "Virginity Pledge." While the first has a long and illustrious history, the second doesn't appear to be very effective (based on what the online experts reveal).
I also discovered (on Wikipedia) something called, "Pledgebank." It is a web site where a range of topics is tackled, and it is a way to generate collective action: "I will do this action, if X number of people agree to do the same."
I think this is what some of those idiotic internet chain mails are intended to do - i.e. boycotting one certain grocery store or chain, or gas station or company, or whatever.
For everyone who is looking for another avenue to raise funds, this pledge thingie might be the ticket, if you have some volunteers willing to throw down the gauntlet.
Now, the flip side of that is you might also tick off folks who don't have the same passion, and don't wish to be called out for it. Two sides to that coin.
Now, before I get the flaming nasty grams from organizations trying to forecast charitable budgets, please understand that I am a fact-based organism. I love the value that is attained from historical trends, money in the bank, and a realistic budget based on the now-and-here reality.
I pledge to continue to trust in those things.
Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-services, networking, community organization in Henry County.