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The Importance of Goal Setting for Nonprofits

There are a lot of ways to define and measure success in all things, especially nonprofits. For some, working in an industry that is largely service-based makes it difficult to measure success, but this is just a mental hurdle. Sure, you’ve got to think about it a little differently, but success can be measured in the absence of money quite easily.

Journal with yellow marker

One way to do this is to set measurable goals and routinely evaluate your progress on them. Goal setting helps define, celebrate, and monitor success in your organization, and every nonprofit should be doing it regularly.

Goals and overall success

Setting goals means that you get to achieve them, or it should, if you do it right. Nonprofit teams (and all teams, really), thrive on the rush of joy you feel when you achieve something you set out to do. Real, measurable goals help reward people who are working hard, and ensure that your strategy is working the way you envision. Think of it as much the same feeling you get when you cross something off your to-do list!

Keep it on track

Another reason goals are great is because they establish a timeline that helps keep your organization on track. You should have short term goals and long term goals, each with clearly defined timelines. And, while things occasionally go askew for a variety of reasons, these goals lay a framework for the work that needs to be done.

Next steps

Sometimes in activities of work or leisure, we struggle to identify next steps. If you have a strong set of individual and organizational goals, you automatically have some guidance on this. Once one goal is achieved, your next job is to achieve another goal. What this might look like may take some figuring out, but you’re at least able to identify the outcome at the very beginning.

More money

Goals related to organizational fundraising typically result in higher dollar amounts raised overall. While a general “we’ll take whatever we can” approach ensures fewer disappointments, it doesn’t allow you to publicize a certain amount that you hope to achieve, which can be helpful in motivating donors.

Of course, not all fundraising goals are related directly to dollar amount. Goal setting the number of events you hope to host or the number of ways available to donors to give can also result in more money for your organization. Think about goals regarding brand awareness, recurring donor numbers, and (of course) dollar amounts with the same mentality.

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