May 26, 2017

Creating a Gift Chart for Capital Campaigns

Before embarking on a capital campaign, it is necessary to build and then populate a gift range chart. While the chart helps outline the scope of the campaign, it will be critical for the campaign leadership team to identify realistic prospects at all levels of the campaign.

The gift chart below was created with the Blackbaud’s free Gift Range Calculator. It provides a great place to start, but you will likely need to modify the final result to better fit your unique situation.

Nevertheless, there are some important pieces of information we can glean from this chart that provide helpful guide posts for any significant capital fundraising effort.

Each campaign typically requires one significant lead gift to succeed. This lead gift does not need to be the very first gift, but it can be very helpful to secure it during the silent phase of the campaign. A lead gift will need to be approximately 10%-20% of the total you seek to raise. If your campaign goal is $500,000, a lead gift should be at or over $50,000. In addition to the lead gift, roughly 10% of the total number of donors to the campaign will need to contribute about 50% of the total campaign goal. The best way to visualize this is via a campaign gift chart. As you can see in this chart, the top 12 donors will have given about 52% of the needed total.

Gifts around $1,000 or more typically depend on an ask in person rather than through mail, phone, or online. This is especially true for smaller organizations.

If your library has a fundraising goal of $500,000, you will need to secure a projected 54 gifts of $1,300 or more in order to meet 90% of the total amount. The remaining dollars will likely be secured through special events, mailings, or various other smaller gift fundraising efforts. Assuming a consistent ratio of four potential donors asked before one gift is realized, your library will need to identify approximately 216 potential donors at various giving levels.

Major gift fundraising is most effective when it is done with a peer-to-peer fundraising approach. This peer-to-peer approach relies heavily on volunteers to help you solicit these significant gifts. While some volunteer fundraisers may be willing to make a larger number of calls and visits on your behalf, it is best to conservatively assign no more than 5 potential donors to every fundraising volunteer. It is critical that every volunteer makes their own significant gift to the campaign first, which will lower the amount of volunteers needed.

It is important to identify volunteer campaign leaders early who have the potential to make significant gifts themselves. By being involved in the planning process, your volunteers will be able to hear first-hand of the value of your campaign. They will, in essence, cultivate themselves through their own involvement to become major contributors. This can significantly reduce the burden of identifying and securing gifts at the higher tiers of your campaign chart.

A capital campaign typically has a silent phase (non-public phase) where the organization establishes a fundraising committee, secures fundraising volunteer leaders, and develops campaign collateral and donor recognition options. During this silent phase, the organization will try to secure about 50% of the total campaign goal in gifts and gift commitments (meaning signed pledge agreements). Going public with a campaign that has already met half of its funding goal creates a far greater likelihood of succeeding.

About Marc Huber

Marc Huber is a fundraising professional with over seventeen years of experience, including strategic messaging, board development, annual giving, capital campaigns, and volunteer consultation and training. He's also the author of The Fundraising Co-Pilot.

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