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How to Use a Fundraising Gift Range Calculator to Elevate Your Strategy

Fundraisers constantly seek ways to streamline their efforts and raise more money. Suppose your nonprofit has a clear vision, a committed donor base, and has invested in a stellar CRM (customer relationship management) system. In that case, there are additional tools that can enhance your fundraising strategy. In this article, we will discuss the importance of using a gift range calculator, which can be a valuable tool for your nonprofit’s fundraising initiatives.

A fundraising gift range calculator, also known as a gift range chart, fundraising chart, donor pyramid, or fundraising pyramid, serves as a versatile tool beyond capital campaigns. It is useful for annual fundraising, recurring donor campaigns, major gift strategies, and endowment efforts. By utilizing a gift range calculator, you can determine the likelihood of achieving your fundraising goals, prioritize donors that require more attention, and track campaign progress.

Learn when to use a gift range calculator and how to create your own!

What is a gift range calculator?

A gift range calculator is a tool that establishes gift levels, the number of gifts at each level, and the required number of prospects (donors) to reach your fundraising goal. Typically, a gift range calculator demonstrates that 80% or more of your fundraising goal will come from 20% or less of the donors who contribute. In other words, a few major donors making significant gifts are necessary for campaign success.

This is also known as the Pareto Principle or 80/20 Rule. (Recent studies have found that it may be closer to 90% of your goal coming from 10% or less of your donors!) This is why gift range charts often resemble a pyramid, with a smaller number of large gifts at the top and numerous smaller gifts at the bottom.

The gift range chart is typically presented as an Excel or Word table with columns and rows, featuring the following headings:

  • Number of gifts
  • Gift amount
  • Number of prospects required (typically 3-5 prospects per gift)
  • Amount raised subtotal
  • Cumulative total
  • Cumulative percentage of goal (optional)

These columns can be customized to suit your specific fundraising campaign while maintaining these basic elements.

Why use a gift range calculator?

Gift range calculators serve several purposes. They help identify the number of prospects needed to achieve fundraising goals, assess the feasibility and realism of the set goals, and facilitate strategic planning by highlighting donors who require special attention. Gift range calculators are particularly useful when collaborating with individuals less familiar with fundraising, such as volunteer board members.

When should I use a gift range calculator?

While gift range calculators and charts have traditionally been used during the feasibility phase of capital campaigns, they should be applied to any fundraising effort with an established goal. Consider utilizing a gift range chart for the following:

  • Annual fund goals
  • Scholarship campaigns
  • Endowment building campaigns
  • Capacity campaigns
  • Capital campaigns

By employing this straightforward approach, you can gain insights into what it takes to reach your nonprofit’s fundraising objectives.

How do I create a gift range chart?

Now that we recognize the versatility of gift range charts and calculators as fundraising tools, let’s discuss how you can create your own!

How to make a fundraising gift table

Step 1: Establish your fundraising goal.

Begin by determining the fundraising goal for your campaign or initiative—how much do you need to raise? This amount will be inputted into the gift range calculator. Whether it’s $100,000 for scholarships or multi-millions for a capital campaign, this figure forms the basis for building your gift pyramid. Adjustments can be made as you progress.

Step 2: Create your gift range chart.

Start building the gift range chart using the headings mentioned earlier. If you’re starting from scratch, begin with a gift representing at least 10-20% of your goal. For instance, for a $2.5 million campaign, you might start with a $500,000 gift from an individual and work downward. Set gift levels at $500,000, $250,000, $100,000, $50,000, and so on. Remember, gift charts are not simple calculations like requiring 100 gifts at $25,000 to reach $2,500,000. Instead, they resemble a pyramid structure, necessitating a combination of major and smaller gifts to achieve the overall goal.

The gift range chart can adapt to campaigns ranging from a $10,000 goal to multi-million-dollar objectives. It can be utilized by various fundraising teams, from parent-teacher organizations to major universities. If you need assistance setting your gift ranges, use the AskGenius free, fundraising gift range calculator below!

Adjust your chart as needed.

The initial gift range chart establishes goal feasibility and the number of prospects required. However, you can modify the chart to suit your needs. Consider adding additional columns such as:

  • Names of donor prospects at each level (use your database or wealth screening tool for assistance)
  • Assigned gift officer or campaign volunteer
  • Notes on the donor’s stage in the fundraising cycle: identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship
  • Notes on donor recognition, including whether the donor’s name will be listed on a plaque of giving levels

The columns you add may depend on the CRM you use and the data you wish to track within that system, in addition to the gift chart.

Start benefiting from a gift range calculator today!

Now that you understand what a gift range chart is, how to create one, and the strategy for utilizing it to enhance your fundraising efforts, the possibilities are endless. Evaluate the goals outlined in your development plan and determine where a gift range chart can assist your development staff and board in reaching their objectives. This simple yet effective tool can significantly enhance your fundraising effectiveness.

For further information on the major gift fundraising cycle and how to utilize the gift table with donors, we recommend reading the guide on Using a Gift Table With Donors.




At AskGenius, we strive to help you elevate your fundraising strategies. To receive more valuable content like this delivered to your inbox monthly, sign up for our newsletter today.

This blog was previously published in March 2022.

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