Tag Archives: management

Setting Your Fundraising Goal

What is fundraising without a goal? Most campaigns have one. The question is: how do you set it?

Over the years we have observed different methods. We present them for your consideration. Which will work best for you? Which is similar to the way your organization sets its fundraising goal? How might you want to modify the method you use?

A common method is to pick a number out of the sky. This is an emotion-based method of goal setting. It can be a good starting point and can create inspiration. When you believe a number is achievable, and feel your organization rise to the occasion, you can serve as a catalyst and motivator. But, be careful – this is also the riskest way to set your goal. Your goal may “feel” right, but that is not always the same as an achievable goal!

You may choose to base your goal on what a similar organization has been able to raise. “If they can do it, so can we,” may be your rallying cry. A good starting point that can motivate a deeper analysis of similarities and points of difference. A comparable organization may raise more money because they provide more extensive – or more expensive – services. They may have a strong annual giving program in place, a corps of major donors, and multi-year state or federal contracts. They may raise more money because, over the years, they have set their sights higher and built the capacity and talent needed to meet their goals.

You can base your goal on the needs of your institution. A review of projected income and expenses may show a “gap” that becomes an institution’s fundraising goal. A charter school, college or university may look at all revenue sources and operating costs, identify the gap that needs to be filled and set that as a fundraising goal that will help the institution operate at the highest level. The gap is real, but does it represent a realistic fundraising goal?

Other methods include basing your goal on what you have been able to raise in the past with a modest increase; responding to pressure from board, alumni, volunteers or community leaders; accepting a challenge grant from a donor, designed to encourage increased giving; or seeking new funding from a foundation for programs that are in line with your mission.

Wherever you start with determining a fundraising goal you need to come to a point where you evaluate the proposed goal and your ability to meet it.  This evaluation should include a sound analysis and assessment of your organization’s impact and role within the community; the strength of your board and their willingness to engage in fundraising; market research such as a fundraising feasibility study or survey; and your fundraising capacity. Whether you serve as an executive director or CEO, a board member, or a fundraising volunteer it is always wise to ask questions about fundraising goals and methods.

Stop. Look. Listen.

A program for board chairs, executive directors, college presidents, directors, and CEOs.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of your nonprofit. Even if you have a large staff. At the end of the day, volunteers can take you to places you haven’t even dreamed of.  Our “stop, look and listen” program can help unleash the creativity and power of your volunteers.

Stop. Take time to get to know the people who volunteer with your organization. By volunteers we mean all volunteers, not just board members. For example, look at who donates food, who makes sure your gala runs like clock-work, the men who provide security for evening meetings, and the college students who serve as mentors.  Stop and visit with each, one-on-one. Learn their passions. Listen to what they have accomplished in their personal and professional lives. Seek to gain an understanding of their impact, their likes, and where they want to go personally and professionally.

Getting to know the people who invest their time in your institution will pay dividends for years. Here’s a truth – most people who volunteer have lots of ideas about how things could be improved. Most are not shared in open meetings. They are shared one-on-one. When you are the person they share their opinions with, you can help blend them into your vision, making it more powerful; or help it come to life in a better way. The opinions may be about how a program is run; about another organization you can collaborate with; or a business looking for a nonprofit to partner with.

But, you won’t know until you take time to develop relationships. For example, when you have coffee with Mary, briefly share your vision and then ask for feedback. Stop talking. Listen to what she thinks, how she sees things, her ideas, and how she can help. As you listen to how your volunteers respond to your vision, you will find they are a gold mine of ideas and resources. But first, they have to buy into your vision. And they can’t do that if they don’t know you.

Here’s another tip: Don’t let stereotypes cloud your thinking. For example, you may think the board member who is a vice president at the local bank can be of greatest assistance, but, maybe it’s the long-term volunteer for your annual dinner. She may know everyone and be able to open doors you didn’t know were there.

As you look around you will see that your organization is rich in connections and relationships. If you show that you care and are willing to reach out, most people will reach back.

Your volunteers are your most precious asset. Take the time to stop, look and listen. Your organization will go far.