Gift Range Chart

Dear Kim,

What exactly is a gift range chart?

~Home on the Range

Dear Home On,

My true confession is that I find gift range charts hard to explain, and so I encourage you to ask other people as well if my explanation is not clear. Teaching gift range charts is like teaching people to drive by correspondence—I am sure it is possible, but not that easy. But, here’s my best shot.

A gift range chart is based on the observation that when you analyze any fundraising campaign you will discover that a few people give you your largest gifts, more people give you medium sized gifts and a lot of people give small gifts. Most of the money will be from a handful of donors, and a large number of smaller gifts will make up the rest. We have observed this since people wrote their pledges on papyrus scrolls (before my time), and now we can plan around it. If you are doing a major donor drive for an annual campaign, you take your goal and you break it down as follows:

1 gift = 10% of the goal

2 gifts = 5% each of the goal (10% when combined)

3-5 gifts =10% of the goal when combined

So, 30% or more of the goal will come from 6-8 people.

Going down the chart, you have more gifts at less money. You can bring your chart down in 10% increments. You can make the next layer 20 gifts equaling 10% of the goal. How you decide that depends on how many people are in your community, how many solicitations you want to do, and how big your goal is.

In a capital campaign, we have a much narrower chart.

1 gift =20% of the goal

2 gifts =10% each (or 20% total)

3-5 gifts = 20% total

60% of your goal is provided by 6-8 people. The entire campaign may be completed with just 80-100 people.

Let’s look at a specific goal. Let’s say you need $500,000 for a building campaign. You chart might look like this:

1 gift = $100,000 (20% of total goal)

2 gifts = $50,000 each (=$100,000 or 20% of total goal)

4 gifts = $25,000 each (=$100,000 or 20% of total goal)

10 gifts = $10,000 each (=$100,000 or 20% of total goal)

20 gifts = $5,000 each (=$100,000 or 20% of total goal) TOTAL =37 gifts = $500,000

If you don’t have 20 people who can give $5,000, but do have a fair number who can give $1,000-3,000, you can then give your chart more layers. How about:

10 gifts =$5,000 each

10 gifts =$2,500 each

25 gifts =$1,000 each

Supposing you have someone who will give $200,000 as a lead gift. Should you send $100,000 to another group? Absolutely not! The chart doesn’t have to be a perfect triangle, but without the top gifts, your campaign is going to have much harder time being successful. So the gift range chart is a planning document, a reality check, and a visual to show donors and prospects.


Download a sample gift range chart here.