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The success of your fundraising campaign relies on whether or not your nonprofit has put in the time to develop a comprehensive, data-driven fundraising strategy. With the right fundraising plan in place, the more likely you’ll be able to extend the right asks to
reach likely donors and achieve your fundraising goals.

The secret to an excellent fundraising strategy? Consider making the most of a gift range chart.

Commonly used during the feasibility study phase of capital campaigns, gift range charts are useful tools for fundraising campaigns of any size. With this simple tool, you’ll learn exactly what it will take to successfully reach your fundraising goals. 

Even better? Your gift range chart can show your nonprofit where you need to improve in your fundraising strategy, whether or not your fundraising goal is too ambitious, and where to focus your fundraising strategy.

Before your campaign begins, you’ll be able determine the optimal size of your asks, the breakdown of your ideal prospects, and which donors you should be engaging.

In this post, we’ll help you get the most out of your gift range chart by discussing:

  1. Why you should use a gift range chart.
  2. How to structure your gift range chart.
  3. DonorSearch’s gift range chart template.

Are you ready to learn how to use gift range charts to bring your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy to the next level? Let’s get started!

Strengthen your fundraising strategy by developing a gift range chart.

1. Why you should use a gift range chart.

Without question, gift range charts should be a part of your fundraising strategy arsenal (if they aren’t already). Despite their deceptively simple design, gift range charts can tell you a lot about your fundraising strategy, especially if your nonprofit is looking to embark on a capital campaign.

(Looking to sharpen your fundraising strategy? Consider working with a fundraising consulting firm to revamp the way your nonprofit raises money for your cause.)

Specifically, gift range charts can let your nonprofit know:

  • If your fundraising goal is achievable. You may realize after starting to build your chart that your overall goal is too ambitious. Conversely, you might realize that you can raise even more donations than you had originally planned. Your gift range chart should be the foundation of any fundraising feasibility study you conduct.
  • What giving levels to suggest to donors. It isn’t likely that your donors will magically know what your fundraising goals are unless you give them a target to follow. Additionally, you don’t want to approach prospects with too ambitious of an ask or risk leaving money on the table. Figure out what kind of asks to present to donors so you can reach your goal more efficiently.
  • What kind of/how many prospects to target at each level. Similarly, you’ll need to target the right amount of donors at each level. Not everyone can give major gifts, so you need to identify how many prospects to reach out to at every level of giving. Aim to target more prospects at higher giving levels than at lower giving levels.
  • How to prioritize resources. Once you know how many prospects you need to target, and how much to expect from these prospects, you can prioritize resources during the donor outreach process. There are fewer individuals out there who can give very generously, so if you need to spend more money courting them, it’s important to know that up front.
  • How to build your fundraising strategy. Your fundraising strategy should be intrinsically built upon what you discover when creating your gift range chart. With your chart, you’ll get a better idea of how many donors you need to acquire or retain over your campaign, what types of gifts to ask for, etc.

The bottom line: Your gift range chart doesn’t simply lay out the fundraising benchmarks your nonprofit needs to meet to achieve your goals. Completing a gift range chart can help you better understand what it will take to achieve your fundraising goals, as well as assess your fundraising strategy and lay out the steps you should take to be successful in it.

Improve your fundraising strategy by structuring your gift range chart like a pyramid.

2. How do I structure a gift range chart?

Don’t be fooled: using a gift range chart isn’t as simple as collecting $50,000 donations from 20 major gifts prospects if your capital campaign goal is $1,000,000.

Quite the contrary! Gift range charts are structured like pyramids. They allow you to break down a fundraising goal by identifying:

  • How many major gifts you should receive from a handful of donors.
  • How many mid-sized gifts you should receive from a moderate amount of donors.
  • How many smaller gifts you should solicit from the most populous segment of your donors.

In this manner, you are able to more easily reach your fundraising goal by being able to know what size of donations to ask for at every level of giving. Very few people are able to sponsor major gifts, so your gift range chart will help you know how to make up the difference by targeting more modest donors.

However, the breakdown of your gift range chart can vary based on a number of factors related to the size of your organization, your fundraising goal, or the type of fundraising campaign you are holding.

When designing your gift range chart, keep a few rules in mind:

  • Gift size. You should aim for your lead gift to comprise between 15% and 25% of your fundraising goal. Altogether, expect around 80% of your goal to be given by just 20% of donors.
  • Build downwards. When setting your gift levels, cut the gift size in half and double/triple the number of donors at each level.
  • Keep campaign style in mind. When planning capital campaigns with larger, one-time fundraising goals, aim to reach more high level donors. When designing a gift range chart for an annual campaign, factor in more low-to-mid-range donors. When getting ready for a crowdfunding campaign, count on many small donations to make up the bulk of your fundraising.

In addition to helping you plot out the gift range of your fundraising campaign, your gift range chart can also help you identify prospects for each level of giving. Your gift range chart can be one of your most useful tools for targeting potential donors, so don’t let it go to waste!

As you create your gift range chart, you should:

  • Target specific prospects. Utilize prospect research and wealth screening to know exactly who to go to for donations. Using your chart, you should identify specific prospects for each level of giving, not just rely on numbers on a page.
  • Always have back-up. You don’t want to be surprised during your fundraising campaign by running out of qualified prospects to solicit for donations. Your nonprofit should identify 3-4 qualified prospects for every gift you need to reach your goal. 
  • Cast a (relatively) wide net. Identify more prospects for higher-level gifts and fewer for lower-level gifts. If you’re turned down for giving too high of an ask, the prospect might counter-offer by donating at a lower level.

The bottom line: Don’t be content to simply identify the number of prospects you need to contact. Your nonprofit can strengthen your fundraising strategy by using your gift range chart to help plan your asks for specific prospects.

Improve your fundraising strategy by structuring your gift range chart like a pyramid.

3. Gift range chart template.

You don’t need a calculator to create your gift range chart. In fact, with the following template, you can easily lay out an accurate projection of how to reach your fundraising goal that will identify:

  • Your gift ranges.
  • The number of gifts you need within each range.
  • How many prospects you’ll need for each level.
  • The subtotal of each gift range.
  • The cumulative total of each gift range.
  • The cumulative percentage of each gift range.

The bottom line: A gift range chart is there to guide your fundraising strategy. However, it’s just a guide. Use what you know about your nonprofit to decide what is reasonable to ask for among your donors.

Ready to expertly plan your next campaign’s fundraising strategy by developing your own gift range chart? Use our template to get started!

Plan your fundraising strategy with a gift range chart.

Honing your fundraising strategy is all about knowing which prospects will help you reach your goal. With a gift range chart, you’re able to see what kind of donors you need to connect with and, from there, you can start reaching out to prospects.


Now that you know how to build your own gift range chart, it’s time to get started. Good luck!

Additional Resources

  • 4 Keys to Prospect Research with Luminate Online Marketing. A central part of making your gift range chart go the extra mile is using prospect research to single out specific prospects for donation at each gift range level. Check out our guide to prospect research with Luminate Online Marketing for some key ways to approach this challenge.
  • Picking a Fundraising Consultant for Major Gift Fundraising. Another area in which your gift range chart can strengthen your fundraising efforts is by improving your major gift acquisition strategy. Even further, with the help of a fundraising consultant, it’s never been easier to secure major gifts. Be sure to consult our strategies for picking a consultant for major gift fundraising before you make your choice!
  • 5 Strategic Fundraising Calendar Tips for Experts. Want to learn about other tools you can use to improve your fundraising strategy? Visit Aly Sterling Philanthropy for an in-depth explanation of the benefits of building a fundraising calendar to help carry out your fundraising plan.
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Fundraising Strategy: The Gift Range Chart [With Templates!]