Welcome to the third in a seven-part series about capital campaign basics. Click here to start the series from the beginning.
- Capital Campaign Basics: 7 Steps to Success
- Step 1: Clarify Your Fundraising Goals
- Step 2: Write Clear, Effective Campaign Material
- Step 3: Develop a Gift Range Chart
- Step 4: Make a List of Prospects by Giving Level
- Step 5: Contact Your Best Prospects
- Step 6: Ask for Gifts in Person Using Gift Range Chart
- Step 7: Follow Up with Every Donor
Look there! You’ve probably seen a gift range chart. Perhaps you call it a gift pyramid. But I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you’ve never paid these charts much attention.
Yeah, yeah…another donor pyramid. So what?
That’s exactly what I thought when I was new to fundraising.
But through the years I’ve learned that not only are these little charts helpful, they are the sine qua non…the indispensable tool…for your capital campaign.
In this post, I’ll tell you why.
Whether you are raising $15,000 like Margaret who I have described in this series is, or $21 million dollars like the Covenant House in Anchorage, Alaska, your gift range chart will provide a basis for just about every aspect of your campaign.
First, though, a word of warning: Don’t use a pre-developed auto-calculating form to create your chart. With gift range charts, one size and formula does not fit all.
Gift Range Charts Replace Hope and Prayer as Capital Campaign Planning Tools
There’s an old saw that goes like this: Hope is not a plan. Prayer is not a strategy.
I subscribe to that and you should too.
When it comes to fundraising, you’ve just got to think about what it’ll take to get you to your goal in concrete, specific terms.
Here’s a simple concept about human nature that’ll help you come up with a plan.
In pretty much any endeavor, 80% of the output is caused by 20% of the input. That’s Pareto’s Law. He was an Italian economist who figure out that rule in the late 19th Century. Simply put, 20% of the people will give you 80% of the gifts. Yup, now you get it. The 80/20 rule.
Turns out that the 80/20 rule applies to many things, not just fundraising. In fact, Pareto knew nothing about fundraising, he was looking at the way things occur in nature when he came up with this concept.
But the 80/20 rule works in fundraising.**
Human Nature + Strong Intention = Campaign Magic
Gift Range Charts based on the 80/20 rule work in part because that’s the way people behave.
But they also work because when you use a gift range chart as your primary planning tool, your clear and strong focus on each of those gifts on your chart will shape the results of your campaign accordingly!
I’ve worked with dozens of capital campaigns. At the beginning, we always create a gift range chart. At the end, we compare the gifts that came in with the chart. And every time, it seems like magic because 80% or even 90% of the gifts we laid out on the chart actually came in during the campaign.
I know it’s not magic. But I promise you, if you develop your chart and then look to see how the gifts come in, it’ll feel like you waved a magic wand over year campaign.
Let’s take a look at the little Gift Range Chart that Margaret and I put together for her $15,000 campaign.
Notice that the top gift is 20% of her goal and that the gift amounts go down as the number of donors goes up. The numbers are simple and standard and the patterns, while not rigid make intuitive sense. Margaret has used this chart as her guide.
She started at the top of the chart and has been working her way down, talking to one donor after another, checking off gifts and using the chart to show donors so they can decide what they want to give and see that they are among a group of people who are contributing to her success.
Not bad for someone who has never conducted a campaign and had no idea where the money was going to come from.
How’s Margaret’s campaign doing? As of now, she’s has tied down her top 6 gifts and has already raised half of her goal! And she’s made contact with many other potential donors who are likely to fill in much of the rest of the chart. My guess is that she will go over her goal within the next month.
Is it capital campaign magic?
Despite knowing otherwise, I like to think so! If clear planning and unwavering intention are the true ingredients of magic. Then YES! Of course, it’s magic.
To explain all there is to know about Gift Range Charts would take much more than this simple post. So Gail and I are developing an on-line Capital Campaign program to give you all of the material you need to know to make your campaign successful.
Sign up for our newsletter and watch for an announcement in the fall.
** Yes, I know. Some folks say it’s become the 90/10 rule or that it doesn’t still hold true. Don’t squabble with me here. In fact, if you develop a model that shows a few gifts at the top and lots of gifts at the bottom with some sort of rational order in between. And then if you work toward that model, that pattern is likely to be what you’ll get.
This is the third in a seven-part series of capital campaign basics. Part Four will show you how to turn your gift range chart into an asking plan.
Click here to start the series from the beginning.“For many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes” ― Vilfredo Pareto Click To Tweet