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  • Writer's pictureFrances Roen

Why You Need a Depth Chart for Your Capital Campaign

Capital campaigns are large and often “once in a decade” endeavors for organizations seeking to raise substantial funds, through larger investments, for significant projects or improvements. Whether you're a non-profit organization, a university, a religious institution, or a healthcare facility, a well-executed capital campaign can transform your entire organization. 


Most fundraisers are familiar with a gift chart–a visual representation of how many gifts and prospects you need to reach a fundraising goal. In fact, a gift chart is often coined a campaign’s “roadmap to success”. Yet, few of us regularly use the gift chart’s natural extension—a depth chart.   


A depth chart is a critical tool in your campaign planning effort. It takes the visual representation to the next logical step…strategy. Your depth chart identifies, by name, potential prospects who you’ll ask for a gift at each level. 


If a gift chart is your roadmap to success, think of your depth chart as your real-time GPS navigation. Both are important and when combined they provide the quickest route to your destination.

The Depth Chart: Your Campaign GPS

  • Navigation: A GPS provides step-by-step directions to help you reach your destination efficiently. Similarly, a depth chart identifies the prospects, from largest to smallest gift size, who you will need to ask to achieve your financial destination.

  • Route Optimization: GPS devices often suggest the most efficient routes to reach your destination, taking into account factors like traffic, road conditions, and time constraints helping you minimize fuel costs and save time. A depth chart is a visual representation of which individuals and institutions are the best prospects at each giving level—keeping you focused and on track throughout your solicitations—helping you spend your energy on solicitations that will help you reach your financial goal.

  • Decision Making: During a journey, a GPS offers real-time data and alternative routes to help you make informed decisions if unexpected obstacles arise. A depth chart can serve a similar purpose—if a prospect does not make a gift at the level you expect, you’ve identified other prospects at that level who might.

  • Adaptability: Just as a GPS can recalculate the route if you take a wrong turn or encounter road closures, a depth chart must be flexible and adaptable. It can be revised and adjusted, moving prospect names between levels or removing them completely, as you have conversations with them. 


In summary, a depth chart is an essential planning tool for your campaign, helping you navigate the path to your desired destination. Just as you wouldn’t embark on a cross-country journey with only a paper map, launching your campaign without a fully developed depth chart is akin to setting off without GPS navigation. By utilizing the depth chart's strategic insights, you empower yourself to make informed decisions, optimize your route to success, and adapt to unexpected twists and turns along the way. So, as you embark on your capital campaign journey, remember to equip yourself with the indispensable tool of a well-crafted depth chart—it's your GPS for fundraising.

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