Fundraising websites, blogs and capital campaign guides often note that a lead gift of 10-20% of the campaign goal is a prerequisite for the campaign's success.  Find out what the outcome was when 23 capital campaigns were analysed.


In the USA a 10% lead gift 'rule' has been commonly referenced, including in notable capital campaign literature by Hank Russo (2003), Kent Dove (2000, 2nd edition) and Marilyn Bancel (2000). The percentage referenced in the USA has increased with a 10-20% lead gift requirement noted by Andrea Kihlstedt (2010). In Australia, we hear comment that a lead gift of 15-20%, sometimes 25%, of the campaign goal is required.

We analysed the results of 23 capital campaigns completed on behalf of our clients between 2009-2016 in a range of sectors including disability, higher education, medical research, hospital and health support services, community welfare and youth services. The campaigns ranged in goal from $500,000 to $57.5 million (median campaign goal was $5 million) and were completed across…

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