Online Fundraising
November 24, 2021

How to Set Nonprofit Fundraising Goals that Lead to Desirable Outcomes

Consistent, efficient, and successful fundraising is the driving force for any nonprofit or charity. Most nonprofits are ambitious with achieving their annual goals and revenue targets. But the real question is—how do you turn these ambitious goals into reality so that your entire team can work together to achieve them in a timely manner?

When it comes to fulfilling the vision and mission of your nonprofit or charity, it is better to set two goals instead of one: 

(1) A public goal—which is set in stone so that your team performs better under the pressure of the public eye; and 

(2) An internal stretch goal that is more ambitious and pushes your employees to go above and beyond.

But above all, make goal setting a priority. Organizations that succeed year after year are the ones who don’t rely on vague plans like ‘we need to raise more than last year’. Instead, they depend on data, segmentation, previous performance, and their vision of a better tomorrow. 

This internal goal-setting process allows them to focus on things and decisions that matter most while fundraising. In this article, we will explain what a successful goal-setting process looks like, outline how it can help non-profits and charities, and provide tips on setting SMART goals that will lead you to your organization’s desired outcomes. 

The goal-setting process for nonprofits

Any goal-setting process begins by understanding where your nonprofit or charity currently stands. Take a look at every important aspect of its existence from its mission to services rendered, staff and structure, volunteers, and the work. Have you set goals in the past? If so, revisit them and see if you were able to meet them.

Throughout this process of acquiring insights, make sure to involve key people within your organization such as senior employees and the board of directors. Their knowledge and experience will help you throughout your goal-setting process.

As you gauge where your organization stands right now, consider the direction you’d like to steer it in. Having a vision for a given campaign is what you need to consider completing at this point. Set aside some time to brainstorm ideas and understand expected outcomes and aspirations. 

Even though no one can predict the future, you can decide the path you want your organization to go. It becomes easier to constantly grow your nonprofit or charity when you have your vision in front of you. 

The year 2020 is a case in point where many charities and nonprofits around the world moved their fundraising efforts online to continue to make a difference and meet their goals. They focused on innovative online fundraisers such as 50/50, Catch the Ace, Sweepstakes, and several others when physical fundraisers became impossible.

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How to set SMART goals 

The SMART model provides a very straightforward and easy way of setting up your fundraising goals. Here is what you should focus on when creating your nonprofit or charity’s objectives:

  • Specific: Your goal should not be vague. It should be very specific and show the exact number that you want to reach. These goals could be related to the funds raised, donors reached, new donors acquired, etc. “$20,000 more from last year” is the right way to have it instead of “more than last year”.  
  • Measurable: Tracking your progress with an objective is very crucial. Hence, you should be able to measure the progress of your goal. Track your daily, weekly, and monthly progress against the set benchmarks.
  • Attainable: Your goal should be ambitious and realistic for your nonprofit to really grow and outshine its previous performance. It is a good idea to use past data as you set targets for the current year. 
  • Relevant: Your goal should emphasize the bigger picture and align with your nonprofit’s mission and vision. 
  • Time-based: Time-based deadlines help you understand where you stand in terms of your efforts. Set a deadline for every goal, whether big or small and add checkpoints along the way to know how well it’s going. 

Related: How to Plan an Annual Fundraising Calendar for Your Nonprofit

Factors to consider when setting your goals

To ensure you follow a productive path to realizing and accomplishing your nonprofit’s mission, there are a few factors that you should consider as you set your goals.

1. Overall fundraising target
The first thing you need to think about when you launch any fundraising campaign is how much money to raise. Once you have a number, break down your total goal, and create various gift sizes for which you will reach out to your supporters. If running an online raffle fundraiser, these smaller denominations would be ticket prices. Then, refer to your donor segmentation data and carefully choose the prospective customers you would like to reach out to first. Also, decide on the gift amount that you will ask from each donor segment. To do that, create a solid plan to connect with prospects that will allow you to turn a large-scale campaign into a doable fundraising effort. 

2. Available budget 
To set effective goals, you need to be fully aware of your available resources. Imagine planning many things only to find out that you are short on media spend or other resources. Therefore, it is best to evaluate all required resources, including promotions and marketing spend, and budget for them at the start of any fundraising campaign. And remember to leave some room for flexibility in case there are any changes that need to be accommodated.

3. Donor demographics
Within the context and type of your fundraising campaign, some audiences will always be more important than others. Think about the donor groups that hold the key to your success. Understanding your donor demographics and then segmenting them allows you to continue to build rapport with relevant donor groups and grow your community of supporters. Without expected participation from primary groups, your campaigns can falter, and in the worst scenarios, fail entirely. 

Related: How to Segment Donors: Tips for Nonprofits

4. Big picture
Organizing a fundraiser means dealing with a lot of small yet necessary tasks on a daily basis. Accomplishing these tasks and meeting your set deadlines can easily make you forget the bigger picture—your fundraising cause, its mission, and vision. Consequently, you end up getting caught up within the complexities of the process. When designing and establishing your fundraising goals, keep your mission in mind so you and your team are aware of the impact you will have with your efforts. 

5. Data and analysis
To set effective fundraising goals, gather all the necessary information and collect relevant data and KPIs to inform your decisions. For instance, keeping your fundraiser in mind, ponder upon and accumulate data on things like:

  • Which donor audience do you wish to target?
  • Which channels attract the most donors?
  • Historically, which areas had the biggest ROIs?
  • The ratio of new versus returning supporters 

In addition to that, analyzing past fundraisers can give you insights to improve your fundraising efforts. With this information, it will be easy to plan your goals as well as accomplish them.  

6. Progress report and metrics
It is essential to keep track of your progress and the goals accomplished; it ensures you stay focused on the mission of your specific fundraiser. A visible measure of progress towards your goal will motivate you and your team to work harder and smarter to get to the finish line. It will also help you plan things better as your progress report will constantly be a reminder of how well you are doing and how much is left. 

7. Transparency 
The best way to establish productive and effective goals for your fundraiser is to involve your entire team in the decision-making process. If the goals are known to only a select few, it might take more time and effort to achieve them. Transparency about your objectives can potentially elicit useful strategy suggestions from the team and act as a motivating force for them to work diligently and passionately. 

Planning, defining, and breaking down your goals into smaller, more achievable objectives will ensure that your main goal does not appear too daunting or overwhelming. Finally, remember to celebrate your victories—big and small—to offer yourself the motivational incentive to achieve your fundraiser mission. 

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