We have a couple of customers who have been asking to be able to set-up recurring contributions against pledges. This seems to be a possibly contentious improvement so I'm looking for feedback on it.
These organisations in question deal with lots of pledges (they solicit them by phone) and they record them in CiviCRM. Some of them are paid off by cheques, & some by credit card. Usually they try to get a commitment to set up a recurring credit card contribution & here's where they are struggling with CiviCRM. CiviCRM won't let you record a recurring credit card contribution against a pledge.
We have hacked out CiviCRM 3.4.7 / 4.0.7 install to meet their needs but obviously if we are going to move to 4.1 then we want to know we have a way to manage that.
1) Because they want the same reporting for all their pledges no matter how they are paid
2) Because the pledge may be paid by different mechanisms over it's lifetime.
Someone pledges to pay $20 for month for 3 years. They agree to set up a recurring contribution against it for the first 6 months (until the credit card expires). At that point they send in a cheque for the next couple of months & one the following one they provide a new credit card for the rest of the pledge.
We have removed the code that hides recurring payment options when submitting a pledge payment. This means that the first payment is recorded against the pledge & is a trivial tpl tweak.
We've also tweaked the BaseIPN code so that when each payment comes in IF another payment in that recurring payment subscription has been treated as a pledge payment then the new one is treated as a payment against that pledge too. This seems to make sense as we are looking at a situation where there might be more than one recurring payment subscription for a single pledge but a recurring payment subscription only ever goes against one pledge.
I had some thoughts about how to deal with validation (ie. rules for when payments don't match) but the concern the core team has is actually whether it's a good idea at all.
As Dave put it "we're a bit hesitant about this because in prior discussions folks indicated that Pledges and Recurring Contributions were different animals and should be kept separate due to differences in how they're supposed to be "accounted".
So, I guess the question I want to ask is whether there is good reason not to go down this path in CiviCRM core (our customers are committed to the path so that's not in question).
As an aside, Authorize.net supports payments with a future start date when you are using recurring payments - even if there is only one installment. The tpl tweak allows us to set-up post-payday payments against a pledge.