What is a gift chart? It’s a planning tool to tell you how many gifts and prospects you will need to raise a specific amount of money. The chart will help you see whether you have sufficient prospects at various levels to meet your fundraising goal. Drafting a gift chart is always my first step in assessing whether a campaign goal is attainable (or perhaps not ambitious enough!).
Gift charts are NOT created using this math: to raise $100,000 we will to ask 100 people for $1,000. Instead they are built like a pyramid — we need one top gift, several major gifts and many smaller gifts.
Here are a few guidelines for building a gift chart:
- The lead gift is at least 15% and maybe up to 25% or more of the goal.
- Build the chart downwards by cutting the gift size in half and doubling or tripling the number of donors at each level.
- Round the donation levels up or down to avoid bizarre numbers.
- Roughly 80% of your goal will come from 20% of your donors.
- For each gift you need three or four qualified prospects (not everyone will say yes to the amount you are seeking). “Qualified” means that you have some reason to believe the person would consider a gift at that level.
- As you go down the list, you need fewer prospects because people who said no at higher levels may give smaller gifts.
No campaign ever goes exactly according to the chart. If you have an established donor base, your chart may be heavier at the top with more major gifts. If you are just establishing donor programs your chart will be bottom heavy, with many small donations. My next step would be to start putting prospect names at each level.
Want an easy way to calculate your own gift chart? Visit this handy Gift Range Calculator. Just plug in your target amount and see the results.