Setting Realistic Fundraising Goals

It’s January, which means that thousands of nonprofits are beginning a new fundraising fiscal year. All the year-end vying and pushing for donor’s dollars is finished, and the financial books will soon be closed. With a new year brings new goals. Below are some helpful hints to set your fundraising team up for success in 2017.

Diversify the Goals

Work with your team to set multi-pronged goals that work together to lift all boats. Oftentimes managers will only set a monetary goal and leave a fundraiser to fend for themselves. Consider multifaceted goals that not only set your fundraiser up for success this year, but for many years to come. The key is to set goals but allow flexibility and creativity. See the differences below.

Scenario 1:
  • Raise $1,000,000
Scenario 2:
  • Raise $1,000,000 from at least 75 constituents
  • Acquire/graduate 10 first-time major donors gifting $2,500+
  • Retain 60% of your major donors from last year at the major gift level

The second scenario feeds a pipeline for future years, ensuring current major donors are being stewarded and cultivated for their next gift, and confirms that a portfolio is being worked (and not just relying on three heavy hitters). One million dollars is a big goal, and if you miss it, a big fail. By having the diversified goals, you and your fundraiser can break down what was hit and what was miss.

Use Metrics for Goal-Setting

The best way to ensure setting appropriate goals is to review your organization’s fundraising landscape and how it has changed over the last couple of years. Below is a brief list of data points that should be considered as you build your goals. Each data point is important but also think about how they have changed in relation to one another.

  • Retention rate (overall and by gift level)
  • Average and median gift
  • % of donors that gift the same amount year over year
  • Size of the donor pool (how it’s changed over time)
  • Gift pyramid and how it has changed with each fiscal year

Be a Team 

At the end of the day, everyone who helps to raise funds or craft the donor experience is an important part of the team. High functioning fundraising teams have healthy relationships that celebrate one another’s wins and share the burden of missed goals. One important ingredient for your recipe for success is an environment where people can ask for help, share best practices, and collaborate to support the mission.

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