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How to Set Fundraising Goals for Maximum Impact

nonprofit team collaborating on goal setting for fundraising

Whether you’re a seasoned nonprofit or a budding organization still learning the ropes, setting goals for your fundraisers is always challenging. Your goal should be ambitious enough to excite your team, but not so lofty that you discourage volunteers or scare off donors.

Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to setting fundraising goals. 

Instead, you can draw on the wisdom of organization management experts using proven tools like the SMART method for effective goal-setting. In this article, we’ll share the strategies you need to make your next fundraiser a rousing success, including proven techniques to make earning a breeze for you and your donors.

Setting SMART goals for fundraising success

Before you start brainstorming how to fundraise, you need to identify your objectives. It’s vital to ensure you’ve found the what and why behind your goals before you dive in. 

Without this step, your fundraising efforts may leave you and your team feeling demotivated, burned out, or unsuccessful. 

Not sure how to set a fundraising goal? That’s where the SMART method comes in. Expert management consultant George Doran created the SMART system—a simple framework that helps individuals and organizations set and achieve objectives successfully. SMART objectives are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

How does this help with setting fundraising goals? Let’s take it step-by-step.

1. Get specific

Don’t set vague goals like “We’ll earn more than last year.” SMART goals are concrete, like:

  • A dollar amount
  • A certain number of new donors
  • A percentage increase over your last fundraiser
  • A need, like new equipment for your sports team

How do you set a target that makes sense? Try answering these questions: 

  • How much have past fundraisers raised? 
  • How many current donors do you have?
  • What are your organization’s current needs (supplies, travel funds, funds for special events, etc.)?
2. Make it measurable

Your goal doesn’t have to be a dollar amount, but it should be something quantifiable. You’ll also need to decide who will be responsible for tracking, and how and when they’ll provide updates.

How you measure also affects how you share your progress with supporters. For example, if you’re a booster club raising funds for new classroom computers, you could create a tracker that shows how much money you’ve raised so far along with how many computers you could purchase with that amount. 

3. Keep it achievable 

Goals should be challenging, but they should also be realistic. Consider factors like:

  • Earnings from previous fundraisers
  • The size of your potential new donor pool
  • How many staff, volunteers, or participants you have
  • How much time you can dedicate to organizing and running the fundraiser
4. Be relevant

Ask yourself how your goal will serve your organization. Is it satisfying a real need? What will the outcome be if you meet your objective? Be sure you have a clear vision for how this goal serves your organization’s mission.

Once you’ve identified your purpose, you’ll be able to tell your story in a way that gets donors excited and emotionally invested.

5. Make it time-related

A well-planned fundraiser must have a clear start and end point. This not only keeps your team and donors motivated but also prevents burnout. 

Labor-intensive fundraisers should be shorter—a weekend, a month, a portion of the school year, etc. 

On the other hand, a RaiseRight gift card fundraiser can keep going all year long. Once your fundraising program is up and running with RaiseRight, it’s incredibly easy for donors to keep supporting your organization. All they have to do is use RaiseRight gift cards purchased through your program to pay for everyday purchases and other expenses. 

Read more: 5 Tips for Successful Fundraising

Choosing the right fundraiser to meet your goals

Now that you know how to set a fundraising target, it’s time to think about strategy. What kind of fundraiser will you do? Can you combine several approaches to get more bang for your organizing buck? 

Don’t be afraid to mix and match to create the perfect fit for your organization and your community.

fundraising event for susan g komen breast cancer

1. Traditional fundraising events

Fundraising events take a significant amount of hands-on planning and time to organize, but they’re also fun and memorable. Funds can be earned by selling donated items or services, or you might organize a competition like a marathon or a readathon where community members pledge a certain dollar amount per mile completed or book read.

Some evergreen nonprofit fundraising ideas include:

  • Silent auctions
  • Community fairs
  • Bake sales
  • Book sales
  • Charity runs/walks
  • Readathons
  • Spelling bees
2. Gift card fundraisers

Gift card fundraisers are one of the most popular options because they take the stress out of organizing. They also make donating easier on donors’ wallets—and that’s a win-win for you and your supporters. 

A RaiseRight gift card fundraiser is simple to run

  • Create a free account for your organization and get approved within 2-3 business days
  • Invite your participants to enroll with your organization’s unique code
  • Encourage participants to purchase gift cards through RaiseRight, then use them to shop from their favorite brands and retailers

Each gift card purchase automatically earns a percentage for your organization, so you don't have to ask your supporters to donate more money out of their pockets! Plus, your organizer dashboard simplifies tracking and reporting, so you can share progress with your supporters and team anytime.

Still not sure where to start? Check out our free Gift Card Fundraising Playbook for a step-by-step guide:

download the gift card fundraising playbook

3. Digital campaigns

Online campaigns pair perfectly with RaiseRight gift card fundraisers. Use nonprofit social media strategies to connect with a wider audience by:

  • Sharing stories that show how donations will be used or who they’ll help
  • Creating content that demonstrates what your organization does and who you are
  • Encouraging participants to share the cause with their own networks
  • Using RaiseRight’s email templates to promote your eGift card fundraiser
5. Crowdfunding

Don’t overlook the possibilities of creating a campaign through online platforms like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or GoFundMe. Crowdfunding platforms offer free tools to build a custom campaign page to showcase your cause. They also make it easy for your supporters to pledge using their credit cards. 

However, there are fees attached—be sure to take them into account when setting your campaign goal.

Chart a course for fundraising success with RaiseRight

With a solid goal in front of you and a strategy in place to reach it, you’re on track for a record-setting fundraiser. Whether you opt for an event like a fun run or a stress-free gift card fundraiser, strategic goal-setting is the first step toward success. 

Here are some next steps to get the ball rolling with RaiseRight: 

  1. Learn more about how gift card fundraising works.
  2. Download the Gift Card Fundraising Playbook and share it with others in your organization.
  3. Start a free program by completing a short, online enrollment form.  

Happy fundraising!