A gift range calculator is essential for running any fundraising campaign at your non-profit. These tools will help you develop a successful plan for your campaign, build a great donor pyramid, and understand exactly what types of donors you will need to involve in your fundraising efforts.
The good news is that a gift range calculator is easy to use, and there are lots of free calculators available for your non-profit. In this article, we’re going to take a look at how to use a gift range calculator the right way and give you some tips for using these tools to help supercharge your fundraising efforts.
What is a Gift Range Calculator?
First, what exactly is a gift range calculator? A gift range calculator is an online tool that allows you to enter a monetary goal for your fundraising campaign, and see how many gifts you will need to raise at each level in order to meet your goal.
For example, you may want to raise $100,000 during your fundraising campaign. When you enter that amount into the calculator, it may suggest the following gift ranges for the campaign:
Gift Size Number of Gifts
Gift range calculators can be used for any type of fundraising campaign, including capital campaigns, annual campaigns, crowdfunding efforts, etc. You can turn the results into a donor pyramid or use them in chart form, as shown above.
Benefits for Fundraising Planning
There are lots of benefits to using gift range calculators for your fundraising campaigns:
First, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the size gifts you will need to raise as part of your campaign. Many fundraisers underestimate the impact major gifts have on their fundraising efforts. Using a fundraising calculator will help you understand just how many major gifts are required to raise your total campaign goal (it’s very hard to raise $100,000 in $50 and $100 chunks!)
Second, your board will have a clearer understanding of what your coming campaign will look like. Many boards set lofty goals (“let’s raise $200,000 during our year-end campaign this year!”) without understanding what size gifts are required to meet those goals. A gift range calculator will help show your board that in order to raise $200,000 your non-profit will need to find four donors who give $20,000 or more to the campaign… including a top donor who will give $50,000.
Finally, using a calculator will help you know how much to ask donors to give. It will help you segment your campaign prospects into defined giving ranges, and prepare you for asking donors for gifts at each of those levels.
The Best Gift Range Calculator for You
There are a number of great free gift range calculators available online. Each calculator will differ slightly in how it calculates giving ranges and the number of donors at each level. That being said, the results from each calculator tend to be similar. Here are my current favorites:
GiftRangeCalculator.com – This simple calculator works well. Note that this tool will give you gifts that add up to more than 100% of your goal, in order to factor in your cost of fundraising and budget overages.
Fundraising Gift Range Calculator – This tool calculates gift ranges that add up to exactly 100% of the overall fundraising goal for your campaign. The added benefit for this calculator is that you can edit the results and it will reconfigure the chart for you. (For example, if you know you are getting a top gift of $100,000, you can edit the top gift amount, and it will automatically change the other gifts amounts for you).
There are other great gift range calculators out there, so if you come across an online tool you really love, be sure to share it in the comments below, and we may add it to our list.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Using the Calculator
Using a gift calculator isn’t hard, but there are a couple of steps you will want to go through in order to use one effectively. Here’s my simple, four-step process for using a tool like this at your non-profit:
Step #1: Choose Your Fundraising Goal
The first step for using a gift range calculator is to determine the overall goal for your fundraising campaign. You’ll need to know exactly how much you want to raise in order to create an effective gift chart or donor pyramid. Be sure to factor in the cost of fundraising, donor recognition, etc. for your campaign.
Step #2: Enter Your Goal into the Gift Range Calculator
The next step is to enter your fundraising goal into the online calculator and hit “calculate” to get the suggested gift ranges for your campaign. If the calculator has editable results, you can play around with the numbers based on the gifts you anticipate receiving and the capacity of your current donors and prospects.
Step #3: Simplify Your Levels
This is an important step. Many times, the gift range calculator you use will give you slightly wonky and unnatural giving levels. For example, when you enter a campaign goal of $1 million into most gift calculators, they will tell you that you need two gifts in the $60,000 range and three gifts in the $40,000 range.
This is fine, but most non-profits and donors don’t think in those increments. Instead, they think in increments like $25,000, $50,000, and $100,000. So, I generally try to simplify my gift charts to match the increments that most donors and fundraisers use. In this case, I would take the two gifts at $60,000 and three gifts at $40,000 and simply say that we need five gifts at $50,000. It’s not exact, but it works.
Step #4: Determine the # of Prospects You Will Need at Each Level
The final step is to determine the total number of prospects you will need at each level in order to hit your fundraising goals. The gift range calculator you use will tell you how many donors you need at each level (e.g. 5 donors at $50,000), and some of the calculators will also tell you how many prospects you need at each level.
If the tool you use doesn’t tell you the number of prospects you need, the calculation is simple: you should assume that you need 5 prospects for each gift. Thus, if you need 3 gifts at $10,000, you should find 15 (3X5) prospects who could give at that level. Maybe you will get lucky and the first prospect you ask will say yes, but the 5-to-1 prospect-to-gift rule of thumb is a good one that has been proven over and over again for non-profits of all sizes.
Note that when I say “prospect,” I don’t mean just anyone who you can find and ask… I mean people that have the capacity to give at that level and who have a demonstrated affinity for your non-profit.
If you’re planning a fundraising campaign, a gift range calculator is an invaluable tool for helping you plan your campaign, set your donor levels, and segment your prospect universe. Use the tools and suggestions above to help you get the most out of this strategy and raise more money for your organization.