This photo of a nonprofit leadership team discussing fundraising goals & strategies.

How to Set Effective Fundraising Goals That Spark Action

Just last year alone, Americans contributed $499.33 billion to nonprofits. It’s because of this generosity that many organizations can continue operating and making a difference in their communities.

To secure enough revenue for their organizations’ missions, many nonprofit professionals are on the constant lookout for ways to improve their fundraising efforts. One way to build a foundation for success is to define clear, thoughtful goals in advance. In this guide, we’ll explore three basic steps for setting effective fundraising goals:

  1. Review Your Past Results
  2. Conduct a SWOT Analysis
  3. Set SMART Goals

Whether your nonprofit is preparing for its annual fundraiser or planning to raise more matching gifts, having actionable goals can empower your team to maximize results. Let’s get started.

1. Review Your Past Results

Before you begin your next fundraising campaign, use your past experiences to inform your approach. For instance, take a look at your previous year’s victories and challenges. Ask yourself the following questions to evaluate your results:

  • What was our fundraising goal? Did we exceed, meet, or fall short of it?
  • How did we promote our fundraising efforts?
  • How did we engage donors?
  • What were some successful strategies we applied?
  • What were some of the challenges we faced?
  • Did we gather any donor feedback? If so, what did they say?

By reflecting on these questions, you can determine what areas of strength you should lean into and where you need to adjust your strategy. Consider looking beyond just the past year to understand the bigger picture, and be sure to continue collecting accurate data that you can learn from in the future.

2. Conduct a SWOT Analysis

After examining your past results, conduct a formal SWOT analysis to refine your goals. Getting Attention’s rundown on nonprofit marketing outlines the key areas you’ll inspect during this analysis:

  • Strengths. Take stock of internal factors that allow your nonprofit to stand out from its competitors in a positive way. For instance, you might have a strong monthly giving program or a particularly high donor retention rate. Acknowledging your organization’s strong points can be a powerful way to avoid burnout and boost motivation among staff members.
  • Weaknesses. Identify any internal factors that may impede your nonprofit in its fundraising efforts. This could be anything from having a limited number of staff members and resources to not having enough reliable revenue streams. It’s important to recognize that you can address these weaknesses to improve your results moving forward.
  • Opportunities. These are external trends or changes in the nonprofit landscape that may give your organization an edge over its competitors. For example, there may be new technological advancements that can improve fundraising efficiency or promising grants your organization can pursue to increase its funds. Having these opportunities laid out allows your team to better understand its priorities down the line.
  • Threats. Make a list of external factors that could present hurdles to your nonprofit in the near future. Some common threats may include recent government legislation that hinders your ability to raise funds or an overall lack of awareness surrounding your cause within the community. Once you’ve identified these, you can start brainstorming how to leverage your strengths to reduce these threats.

At the conclusion of your SWOT analysis, you should have a clearer idea of how your nonprofit is uniquely positioned to reach its supporters and raise revenue for its cause, along with what you should leverage and what you should be aware of as you proceed.

3. Set SMART Goals

Now that you’ve prepared your foundation, use the SMART framework to generate goals that will inspire your staff members and maximize your fundraising results. For instance, let’s say that your nonprofit is hoping to use the Google Ad Grant to secure more donations for its cause. For this example, your SMART goal might look something like this:

  • Specific. Define the monetary amount you’re trying to raise from donors’ gifts. Sticking with our example, you might decide that your nonprofit will aim to raise $50,000 by using the Google Ad Grant to reach new donors online. According to NXUnite’s donor acquisition guide, this is a highly viable use of the grant’s $10,000 a month in ad funding.
  • Measurable. How will your nonprofit know whether it’s on track to reach its fundraising goal? Identify metrics, such as your landing page conversion rate, that will allow your team to assess its progress along the way and make adjustments if necessary.
  • Attainable. While it’s important to set challenging goals for your nonprofit, they should be realistic enough so your team can actually achieve them. Continuing with our example, consider how much staff time and resources you have to effectively manage your Google Ad Grant account and adjust your fundraising goal accordingly.
  • Relevant. Take the long view with your fundraising goal by considering how it will further your nonprofit’s broader goals and mission. Your team should be able to draw a clear line between your fundraising efforts and your organization’s overarching success. For instance, you might agree that investing energy into the Google Ad Grant will increase your reach and build a strong donor base that you can rely on for years to come.
  • Time-based. Include a clear deadline in your fundraising goal to propel your efforts forward and encourage your team to act with urgency toward achieving it. With this in mind, your fundraising with the Google Ad Grant goal might look something like this: “Raise $50,000 using the Google Ad Grant to reach new donors online by Christmas of this year.”

There are a variety of SMART fundraising goals you can set for your nonprofit, from retaining a certain percentage of donors to leveraging more social media fundraising opportunities. Just be sure to stick to a reasonable number of goals that will actively benefit your fundraising efforts.

With clear, actionable goals, you’ll be well on your way to fundraising success. Remember to take the time to celebrate and thank everyone, from staff members to donors, once you’ve finished your campaign. Consider sending out a survey to supporters as well. Their direct feedback can produce important insights to inform your future goals. This ensures that you can maintain positive momentum for your next fundraising initiatives.

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