Establishing clear fundraising goals and objectives is essential for the success of any non-profit or charity organisation. It helps guide your fundraising strategy, provides a target for your team and supporters to work towards, and enables effective communication of your mission to potential donors. Here are some steps to help you establish clear fundraising goals and objectives:
1. Assess Your Organisation’s Needs
Evaluate your organisation’s current financial situation, and identify the areas where additional funding is needed. Consider both short-term and long-term needs, such as programme expenses, overhead costs, capital projects, or emergency funds.
On a granular level, here is how you can go about this:
- Review the Annual Budget: Analyse your annual budget to identify income sources and expense categories. This can help you understand your financial structure and determine areas where additional funding is needed
- Identify Funding Gaps: Compare projected income with its expenses to determine any funding gaps. This can be done easily in two steps:
- See how your expenses and income have grown in the last 2-3 years
- Get a CAGR number and use it to arrive at the expected expenses and the anticipated income for the next year
- Evaluate Programme Costs: Critical and often overlooked aspect. Review the costs associated with each programme or service offered by your charity. Determine which ones are essential to your mission and should be prioritised for funding. Additionally, consider whether any programmes can be scaled back or removed for better resource utilisation
- Consider Long-Term Financial Goals: Evaluate long-term financial objectives, such as building an endowment, launching a capital campaign, or investing in new infrastructure. These goals may require significant funding and should be factored into your assessment. Even smaller expenses like investing in online marketing and SEO to promote your charity should be factored in.
- Analyse Past Fundraising Performance: Review historical fundraising data to determine trends in donor behaviour, average donation amounts, and the success of previous campaigns. This information can help you identify areas where fundraising efforts may need to be improved or expanded
- Monitor External Factors: Consider external factors that may impact your financial needs, such as changes in government funding, economic conditions or shifts in donor priorities. Be prepared to adjust your fundraising strategy in response to these factors
- Estimate the Cost of Fundraising: Factor in expenses associated with fundraising efforts, such as marketing materials, event costs, or staff salaries. Include these costs in your assessment to ensure that your fundraising campaigns are cost-effective and sustainable. We even ask our clients to have a budget for online charity fundraising as software management and fundraising oversight has a cost.
- Consult with Stakeholders: Engage with your board members, staff, volunteers and beneficiaries to gain their insights into the charity’s financial needs. Their perspectives can help you identify priorities and areas where additional funding is required
- Develop a Financial Plan: Based on your assessment, create a financial plan that outlines the charity’s funding needs, sources of income, and fundraising strategies. This plan should include short-term and long-term objectives and serve as a roadmap for your financial sustainability.
2. Quantify Your Goals
Set specific, measurable financial targets for your fundraising efforts. These targets should be realistic, considering your charity’s capacity and the resources available. Make sure your goals are aligned with your mission and overall strategic plan.
Here are some steps to help you quantify your fundraising goals:
- Assess Your Needs: Start by evaluating your charity’s financial needs, both short-term and long-term. Consider programme expenses, operational costs, capital projects, and any other financial obligations. This assessment will help you get a fix on the amount of funding required to sustain and grow your non-profit
- Set a Total Fundraising Goal: Based on your financial needs assessment, set a total fundraising goal for a specific period such as monthly, quarterly or annually. This goal should cover the funding gaps identified in your assessment and support your objectives
- Break Down the Total Goal: Divide your total fundraising goal into smaller, more manageable targets. For example, break down an annual goal into quarterly or monthly goals, or separate a capital campaign goal into different project phases. Breaking down the total goal makes it easier to track progress and make adjustments as needed. We explore this a bit below under point 4
- Allocate Goals by Fundraising Channels: Allocate specific fundraising targets to each of your fundraising channels, such as individual donors, corporate partnerships, grants, or special events. Consider the past performance of each channel and its potential for growth when setting these targets
- Set Donor Acquisition and Retention Goals: In addition to financial targets, set goals for acquiring new donors and retaining existing ones. For example, aim to increase the number of new donors by a certain percentage or improve your donor retention rate
- Create SMART Goals: Ensure your fundraising goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). SMART goals provide clear direction, enable progress tracking, and increase the likelihood of achieving your targets
- Monitor and Adjust: Regularly review your progress towards your charity fundraising goals, and adjust your targets and strategies as needed. This will likely involve reallocating resources, revising your marketing efforts, or updating your goals based on changing circumstances
3. Set a Timeframe
Take each fundraising as a project with clear deadlines, goals and responsibilities. The deadlines may vary depending on the nature of the campaign, the urgency of the need, or the complexity of the project. Having a timeline mapped out helps create a sense of urgency and motivates your team and supporters to take action.
Approach the funding goals as a project manager. Break down each goal into mini goals with short to mid-term objectives. As a rule of thumb, plan three alternative deadlines for each:
- Quick Timeline: This is the shortest timeline possible to achieve the objective.You can attach a reward system to this for everyone involved including the founders, co-founders, management, support staff and volunteers. This should motivate everyone to achieve the funding objective
- Regular Timeline: This is the normal deadline. Any reward system you have should be minimal so that the effort is appreciated but there is a focus on improvement. This should be an achievable timeframe and not one where you have to burn the midnight oil for months
- Longer Timeline: This is the extended deadline and best for funding objectives when you cannot meet regular deadlines due to situations beyond your control. For instance, the fundraisings done by charities during the lockdowns did not have a template as such and took more time
This was the first part of our three-part series on Unlocking Your Charity’s Potential: Master the Art of Establishing Clear Fundraising Goals and Objectives. Read part 2 of the series here.