How to Set Smart Fundraising Goals

How to Set Smart Fundraising Goals for Your Nonprofit

Setting fundraising goals can be a complex endeavor. 

There are many factors to consider and often a limited amount of time and resources to work with. This is especially challenging when fundraising online, where donors could be anywhere along the four stages of the donor journey

Without setting or measuring the right goals, fundraisers run the risk of wasting resources, falling short of the goals they’ve set, and missing out on the opportunity to make an impact in their community. 

To ensure the success of your next fundraising campaign, it is important to set smart fundraising goals. Or rather, SMART fundraising goals—goals that are measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.

Inspired by George T. Doran’s SMART goalsetting framework, we’ve mapped out a list of things to consider as you set your own fundraising goals. 

Think of this as a helpful companion rather than a strict guideline. Setting fundraising goals the SMART way will not only increase your likelihood of meeting them—it might help you exceed them, too.

Let’s get started. 

1. Specify what you want your fundraising campaign to achieve

Identifying specifics is half of the essence of setting SMART fundraising goals. The clearer you can envision the outcome you want, the better you’ll know how to get there. 

To specify your fundraising goals, consider asking: 

– What do you want to achieve? 

– Who might help you reach that amount—and who will benefit from it?

– When and how long will the campaign take place?

In thinking about what, exactly, you want to achieve, be as specific as possible. Use figures when you can. Do you want to raise $100,000 by the end of this campaign? 20% more than what was raised this time the last year? 

The objectives of a fundraising campaign can also include acquiring a specific number of new monthly recurring donors or converting a particular number of first-time donors into repeat donors.

It’s also important to think of what you need to achieve these goals—or, more precisely, who you’ll need. Don’t forget to think about who will benefit from their giving, as well.

Do you want your biggest yearly recurring donors to make additional gifts to send 10 more kids to school this year? Or do you plan to recruit 50 more monthly donors to increase mental health support for youth from low-income families in the city?

Name what you want to achieve, who will help you achieve it, and who will benefit. Picturing this will clarify every action step you’ll make and remind you of the ‘why’ behind your campaign.

Finally, decide how long you’ll need to run this fundraising campaign and when. Are you giving yourself one full month in the summer, ahead of the new school year, to raise this amount? Or the first 25 days in December, just before the holidays, to acquire new monthly donors for the coming year? 

Specifying the outcomes of your fundraising goals gives you a goal post to work towards. It also informs you of what you need to measure. 

2. Measure and track the right metrics

The other half of setting SMART fundraising goals is knowing what to measure. 

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, tell you whether or not you’re on track to achieving your goals. Identifying these metrics helps you zero in on what works, pivot around what doesn’t, and optimize your fundraising efforts and resources. 

Tracking where you are en route to achieving your fundraising goals also greatly motivates your team and donors. For instance, visual devices, like a fundraising thermometer, show donors the kind of impact their giving is making.

Depending on the objectives of your fundraising goals, you’ll want to measure the monetary aspects. 

How much have you raised over the course of a day? Or what was the average gift amount over a given period? 

You’ll also want to track your donors: how many of them are giving to your organization for the first time, and how many are “repeat” donors? 

Tools like KIT offer valuable insights in this regard. Powered by AI, KIT gives you a better understanding of your donors: who is most engaged and what influences their decision-making process when it comes to giving.

KIT also serves as an email marketing analytics tool, indicating which communication channels and messaging are most effective at getting recipients to respond to calls to action. 

The right metrics give you the directions you need to achieve your fundraising goals. 

Tracking your progress also tells you sooner—rather than later—whether you’re falling behind on schedule or falling short of fundraising targets, giving you enough leeway to make adjustments to your efforts.

Monitor Your Fundraising Performance with this FREE Dashboard

Use this template to record your fundraising metrics so you can better communicate your progress with your team.

3. Align your goals with your abilities—and ambition

Once you’ve set specific goals to work toward and identified how to track and measure your performance, the next step is to determine whether these fundraising goals are achievable—and if you might have room to push them further. 

Fundraising goals that are easy to achieve are hardly motivating to work toward and easily result in under-tapped resources and potential. 

On the other hand, fundraising goals that are too far out of reach—ambitious but nearly impossible given your resources and time—will only set your organization up to fail. No fundraising team wants to get to the end of a campaign disappointed.

To set ambitious but achievable fundraising goals, it helps to rely on data.

Identify how much you raised during your last campaign, and see if you could increase that size by 10% this time around. You could also increase the average gift amount per donor or make it a goal to receive gifts from 100 more new donors compared to the last campaign. 

Do you have a bigger budget or more staff to assist with your fundraising campaign? See if you could push your goals based on these additional resources. 

Tools like KIT offer accurate AI-driven predictions around your organization’s fundraising capabilities. Insights into your donors’ background and wealth can help you identify how much more you could aim for in terms of fundraising amount, for instance, and where to prioritize your efforts. 

These donation forecasting tools give you an idea of whether or not your fundraising goals are within reach—or achievable enough to make the challenge worthwhile.

4. Resonate with everyone involved, from fundraisers to donors

Now that you’ve refined your specific, measurable, and ambitious but achievable goals, you’ll want to ensure they are relevant to everyone involved. 

Making your fundraising goals resonate with fundraisers and donors alike is key to bringing your mission and vision to life. 

To keep it relevant for your organization, consider asking: 

– How will these fundraising goals advance your organization’s mission?

– How will achieving these fundraising goals positively serve your communities? 

– What tangible impact will achieving these fundraising goals result in, for your beneficiaries? 

These questions keep your “why” in sight as you go about running the fundraising campaign. 

Further, informing current and prospective donors of your “why” also gives them reason and motivation to support your cause. Having these reasons front and center of your campaign, similar to measuring and tracking your progress, will better focus your efforts and keep you on the right path to achieving your fundraising goals. 

Speaking of donors, you’ll also want to ensure your fundraising campaign is relevant to them. This applies to the ways you conduct your outreach and communication. 

By knowing where they are on the donor journey, for instance, you’ll better know how to communicate with them during your campaign. Reaching out to a first-time donor will look different from reaching out to a repeat donor.

KIT’s contact insights feature gives you an idea of your donors’ giving history and capacity, as well as previous interactions they’ve had with your organization—both in-person and online. These unique insights give you a better idea of how to approach them, from making informed donation requests to doing so at the most optimum time.

Invite everyone onto the same page and remind them of the mission you’re accomplishing together with these fundraising goals. Your fundraising campaign is more effective when it resonates. 

5. Tie it all to a timeline

Finally, tie your fundraising goals to a timeline. 

This defined period is a helpful parameter for carrying out what you need to achieve your fundraising goals. 

Deadlines serve as a motivator for both fundraisers and donors, and they inform your decision-making as well. With smaller goal posts along the way, you’ll be better able to track your progress and know when you’ll need to step up your efforts—and if it might be possible to exceed your fundraising goals.

Because of this, time-related insights are important in helping you figure out when best to run your campaign, how long to do it for, as well as when to make strategic requests of your donors. 

KIT’s AI-powered fundraising insights and analytics let you know which months of the year, for instance, your contacts are likely to donate. It also gives you insights on donor readiness—that is, how likely they are to give within the next two weeks or over the next month.

By incorporating a fixed period to achieve specific, measurable, ambitious-but-achievable and relevant fundraising goals, you give yourself a focused arena within which to make a tangible difference to the communities you serve.

Get Timely, Actionable Donor Insights with KIT

KIT helps you uncover patterns and trends in your donor data. It keeps you abreast of any changes in your donor behavior so you can adjust your strategy and stay on track to meet your goals.

There are many factors to consider when it comes to setting SMART fundraising goals. 

The key is to identify which of those factors are the most important to your organization and, ultimately, the beneficiaries you are serving. What works for one organization will not work for another; moreover, what will provide the most optimum positive impact to one community will not look the same as that for another.

Harness the strengths of your organization to tap into the community of donors rallying behind your cause. All you need is to set SMART fundraising goals—and with a bit of informed decision-making with helpful tools like KIT, you’ll be well on your way to making a real, tangible impact.

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