How to Construct a Gift Chart & Use it to Secure Major Gifts

What is a gift chart

A gift chart is a tool used to determine how many gifts and prospects you will need to raise a specific amount of money. These charts are often used for capital campaigns, but can also be used for major gift fundraising and for major events. The table is built like a pyramid: the top has a small number of large gifts and the bottom has a large number of small gifts.

Here is a sample gift table for a campaign to raise $3,000,000:

Sample Gift Chart for $3,000,000

Gift Level

# of Gifts

# of Prospects


































Total Raised




Try out this Fundraising Gift Range Calculator to construct your own by plugging in your campaign goal.

Tips for building a gift chart

  • Identify the highest level gift that will be made to the campaign. This number will depend entirely on your donor base. Do you have a few donors who could give at $50,000 or maybe one big one who can give at $100,000. It is not uncommon for the highest level to be anywhere from 10-50% of the campaign total.
  • Assume that you will need three to five prospective donors for each gift. Remember that not everyone will say yes, so you will need to line up a few that you think will be both interested and able to give at each level.
  • Build you chart downwards, filling it in based on what you know about your donor base and their capacity to give.
  • If your gift table total falls short of the target, it’s likely your goal is not attainable and you may want to rethink it. Likewise, if your table adds up to more than your goal, you may want to increase it.
  • Allow for contingencies and unexpected expenses. Have you considered the need to travel or entertain: a local hamburger joint is usually not appropriate for a $500,000 donor. Do you need to run a donor appreciation event? What will it cost? What if your project runs over its budget? These are all things that you should think about and budget in.
  • Revise the table as you go; as prospects say yes or no to gifts. Revising your table will help you stay focused on what you need to raise your goal.

Using a gift chart to secure major gifts

A gift chart is not just handy for planning and keeping you on track of your goal. It can also help you secure major gifts. The next time you meet with a potential major donor, bring the chart with you. The gift chart allows potential donors to become engaged in the campaign, providing a quick, graphic way for the donor to see exactly where the campaign is and how they might be part of the solution.

When securing major gifts is part of a capital campaign, it is called the “quiet phase.” See Capital Campaigns: A Complete Guide for Nonprofits for more on this.

Make sure to update the chart before you meet with any potential donor, so you can show them how much has been raised at each level and how much still needs to come in. If possible, give them the opportunity to pay over several years. Without a doubt, this will allow you to secure higher gift amounts.

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