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Setting Fundraising Goals That Initiate Action

When you’re beginning any goal setting process, it can be difficult to even know where to start. This is especially true in nonprofits, where dreams are big and ambitions are high. Goals are great, but it they feel unreachable, they can also be problematic, preventing the undertaking of any sort of action at all.

When we’re talking fundraising, the key is to make your goals actionable--that is, realistic, and ready to be moved on. This is a multistep process, but one you’ll be glad you undertook. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (Please don’t eat an elephant.) Ultimately, the only place to begin is at the beginning.

Look at what’s just been done

There’s no better way to understand how your organization approaches fundraising than by looking at last year’s reports and numbers. Did you have a successful year? What didn’t work? What did? Look at your previous success, failure, or both, and think about what created those outcomes.

Conduct a more formal analysis

There are lots of ways to conduct a formal analysis, and the one you choose will depend upon your organization. Most all approach the same set of criteria, which is to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Referred to as a SWOT analysis, this approach helps you recognize what you’ve done right too, which can be useful in avoiding burnout.

Looking at opportunities helps you plan for the future and talking about obstacles can prevent them from becoming a problem.

Take a deeper dive

If your nonprofit has been around for a while, it can be helpful to take a little bit deeper dive into your fundraising activities. How do the years compare? What could have changed your outcomes? What do your financial reports look like, and how could a nonprofit accountant help make these better?

Are you meeting goals? Are there things you’d like to change? This bigger picture is often revealed in years, not months, of financial data.

Ready, set goals

Now that you know what’s going well, what isn’t going well, and generally where you’d like to be, you’re equipped to set goals that are attainable and actionable. Begin by brainstorming as a group, and then write goals that have measurable outcomes. Perhaps you’d like to increase the number of volunteers you utilize. Maybe you’d like to acquire new donors or retain a particular percentage of existing donors. Maybe this is the year to establish a social media presence or increase your email marketing open percentage.

These goals are easy to measure because they rely on data--use this approach to your goals, especially as they pertain to fundraising, and get ready to experience success!

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