How to Use a Gift Table With Donors

Fundraisers know having the right strategy and tools can be the foundation to their non-profit’s fundraising success. The gift chart, also known as a gift table, gift range chart, fundraising chart, donor pyramid, fundraising pyramid, or pyramid of gifts is a fundraising tool that is well known for its use in capital campaigns. This tool can be useful in any gift fundraising initiative. If you have never used a gift chart, check out our blog post on How to Use a Gift Table to Elevate Your Fundraising Strategy for how to begin. In this post, we will cover how to use a gift range chart during donor meetings, whether during a capital campaign or for other initiatives such as your annual fund or endowment building campaign.

Getting Started with the Gift Chart at Donor Meetings

How to make a fundraising gift table

Congratulations, you have successfully created a gift chart for your fundraising campaign, determined the goal is achievable with the donor prospects you have, and now you are wondering what donors to use the gift chart with. Remembering the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule, you will want to concentrate early efforts on your organization’s large capacity donors. Using a wealth screening tool or other data available in your database, begin qualifying donors as lead or major gift prospects. The gift chart is best used with donor prospects who have both the capacity to give and an affinity for your organization.

1. Identify your top donor prospects to use the donor pyramid with

Begin by focusing on a donor who can make a gift that is 15-25% of your goal. For a $1,000,000 campaign, you will want to identify a donor who can give at least $150,000-$250,000. A typical rule of thumb with donor pyramids or giving charts, is that you will need 3-5 prospects per gift.

2. Ensure the donor prospects at the top of the gift pyramid have capacity and affinity

For donors to make a lead or major gift, three factors need to align: their capacity, their affinity to your organization’s mission, and the timing. Your team will need to qualify donors by doing prospect research.

3. Secure the donor meeting with someone at the top of your gift table

Once you have identified these 3-5 prospects, secure donor meetings with them. For the sake of this article, we are assuming you have an established relationship with these donors. This is also the time where your team will determine who should attend the meeting with the donor, if the CEO or a board member has an established relationship with the donor you may choose to include them in the meeting.

4. Share the gift chart during the donor meeting

Now, bring the levels of giving chart to the donor meeting. Depending on the donor and the setting, you may want to print out the gift range chart or have it available on a laptop. It may also be appropriate to create recognition or naming opportunities for the top tiers of the fundraising gift pyramid.

How to Use the Gift Chart or Levels of Giving Chart at the Donor Meeting

You created the gift range chart, secured the donor meeting, and brought the gift chart along to the meeting, but now what? Some fundraisers prefer to ask for a specific dollar amount, while others may ask if a donor would make a gift in a specific range on the levels of giving chart. For instance, if you segmented your gift pyramid down into lead gift, major gifts, and other gifts or into specific recognition levels you can use this language with the donor.

When it is time to discuss a potential gift, share the goal of the campaign with the donor and explain what their gift could make possible for your non-profit. Next, show the donor the levels of giving chart. You can choose one of two methods, ask for a specific gift or gift in the range of x to y, or ask if they would consider a gift in one of the three levels. The gift pyramid can help show the impact on the goal their gift will have and for some donors it may even inspire them to give more. The fundraising pyramid can help provide context and as you raise major gifts and your remaining goal shrinks, it can help show smaller range donors what their gift can do.

Other Considerations When Using a Levels of Giving Chart With Donors

Remember the gift range chart or fundraising pyramid is your tool and it can be flexible. If you secure a lead gift that is higher than expected, you may be able to adjust your giving levels for future donors. This can be helpful for organizations that have more donor prospects in certain levels on the donor pyramid.

The gift pyramid can also be helpful when you are not sure what amount to ask a donor for, by showing the donor the gift pyramid you open the dialogue about giving and the donor may identify the range they are comfortable giving at. There may be times when the gift table is used to facilitate a discussion and ask the donor what range you should be asking for and when the timing would be best for them to make a gift.

Now that you know what a gift table or donor pyramid is, create one for each of your fundraising initiatives. Use the gift chart to determine whether a goal is achievable given your current donor prospects and begin planning out which donors to continue cultivating and request meetings with. Take the levels of giving chart to donor meetings to provide context and help donors understand the impact their gift can make.

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