Win your fundraising campaign on paper first

publication date: Jul 26, 2018
author/source: Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE

Years ago, I was head of fundraising at a charity that had a golf tournament. We were starting our sponsorship campaign and the staff person proposed a goal of $30,000. When I asked her to show me her gift table, she only had enough prospects to reach a maximum of $20,000 and that was only if every single donor gave. Needless to say, we had to create a new list with a lot more names to reach that $30,000 goal.

Before you start on your campaign - annual fund, major gifts, event sponsorship, or capital - you want to be sure that you have enough donors to be able to succeed. All the elements of a campaign are valuable but the good old fashioned gift table is an often neglected part of an effort.

A classic gift table assumption is that there will be a relatively small number of gifts you will need to make your goal. Related to thinking about a gift table is also to consider how many donors you will need to get each gift. Each charity will have its own ratio of asks to gifts and you may need to spend a few years to learn your ratio. As a placeholder, you can assume 3-8 donors for each gift. In the table below, if you assume 8 donors per gift, you will need a total of 84 donors.

Worth noting is that some of the prospects of the larger gifts will make a gift for a smaller amount. The reason a gift table is valuable is that you can see right away how many donors you need and whether you have enough to succeed.

Sample Gifts Table for a $3M Campaign

Gift Level Number of gifts needed Total amount at this gift level
 $500,000 2 $1,000,000
 $250,000 3 $750,000
 $100,000 6  $600,000
 $50,000 8 $400,000 
 $25,000 10 $250,000 
 TOTAL 28 $3,000,000 


Gift tables are a valuable part of any effort. Whether your goal is $30,000 or $3,000,000, a gift table is a good reality check on your campaign.

Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE is the Editor of Hilborn Charity eNews and has run successful campaigns for over 20 years.

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