3 kinds of fundraising goals

The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal.  The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. – Benjamin Mays


Goal setting is a critical element of fundraising. Goals provide a clear roadmap for your Development work and create benchmarks for success. 

Many kinds of fundraising goals exist, and Development shops use any combination of them. Three fundamental fundraising goals include the following:


1. Revenue

It's easy to understand the importance of setting a monetary fundraising goal. Among other things, it clarifies how much your fundraising staff needs to raise in a given year, provides a common target around which to rally and work, and allows your organization to estimate in its operating budget what percentage of revenue will likely come from Development's efforts. Ideally, your nonprofit will be able to aim for--and raise--incrementally greater amounts of charitable dollars year after year. 

2. "Moves"

Consistent, meaningful communication with prospective major gifts donors often correlates with fundraising success. You'll likely bring these individuals closer to your organization--and a big gift--through strategic, personalized "moves" or "touches," such as 

  • in-person conversations (topics could include getting to know the prospect, asking for advice, or discussing the nonprofit's current activities)
  • phone calls
  • birthday cards
  • letters describing upcoming programs of interest to the individual
  • organizing a private tour of your facilities
  • arranging meetings with your nonprofit's leadership. 
Determine how many "moves" per prospect should be made in a given year. A very general rule of thumb is one per month. 

3. Number of donors
Keeping existing donors is critical, but so is finding new ones.  Through prospect research, tapping your board for connections, social media, mail appeals, grant proposals and more, your nonprofit should continually fill its pipeline with new prospects that align closely with your organization's mission.  You might aim to increase the number of donors in one fundraising area (e.g., increase the number of foundation donors) or overall (e.g., increase the number of donors by 10 percent).

In closing, remember:  The most important action is to set goals. You may blow them out of the water or you may fall short, but setting a baseline this year will give you valuable information for next year.  Consider goals as targets that be updated based on actual results. Ready, aim, fire!

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