Fundraising can be a stressful process, and the idea of setting nonprofit fundraising goals for yourself may be intimidating. Charitable giving backs the majority of your nonprofits’s programs and initiatives. Therefore, it’s likely one of the top priorities for your organization.
So, if you are going to raise money, you should figure out how to do so in the most efficient way possible. That is, learning how to maximize your revenue and get the most out of your fundraising efforts.
One tried-and-true fundraising strategy is striving toward clearly specified and attainable goals.
Goals increase efficiency by providing the following benefits:
- Improving focus: Having specific goals in place will remind you and your team of your main focus, and avoid getting distracted by other frivolous tasks.
- Encouragement: Allowing your team members to watch as you approach a goal is an excellent way to encourage your organization staff as well as your supporters.
If you are wondering how to reach your fundraising goals this year, consider implementing these 5 tips to finding success:
- Make sure to set SMART goals.
- Ensure financial transparency.
- Put the fun in fundraising.
- Use the best resources.
- Don’t forget to say thank you.
Ready to get started? Keep reading!
1. Make sure to set SMART goals.
In order to meet your goals as a nonprofit, you must first have created an effective set of goals to strive toward. However, goals such as “to make more money,” or even “to bring in new donors,” are not going to be very beneficial to you and your team.
Creating SMART goals is one strategy that will establish a set of goals that can be easily followed.
SMART stands for:
- Specific: Goals should explicitly state the action you plan to take. As you set goals, make them as narrow as possible for the best results.
- Measurable: Define the variable that will be used to gauge your success. Again,”more” is not a measurable metric. Using specific percentages, dollar values, and other quantifiable data will remove any uncertainty about whether or not you are meeting a goal.
- Attainable: Setting a goal that is wildly unrealistic for the current size and state of your organization is only going to set you up for disappointment when it is not reached. Goals should be challenging, but not impossible.
- Relevant: Your goals should be aligned with the mission of your nonprofit and fit into the scope of your overall aims as both an organization and as an individual.
- Timely: Make sure to define a set time period (monthly, quarterly, annually, etc.) in which your nonprofit will reach this goal. Without time restraints, you won’t know when to check up on your progress and decide whether your goal was reached.
Here’s an example: To increase the number of monthly recurring donors from 100 to 200 within the next fiscal quarter.
By implementing SMART goals into the planning stages of your fundraising, you can be sure to set practical objectives. Oftentimes, many nonprofits have eyes bigger than their stomachs. Almost every organization wants to grow, but it’s necessary to set effective goals to achieve that growth.
Check out this guide on highlighting your organization’s specific strengths, challenges, opportunities, and vulnerabilities within a strategic plan for your nonprofit. This is a valuable way to measure where you are currently and where you would like to be (and can reasonably get to).
One important tool here is effective financial documentation from the past, which can help inform decision-making and goal-setting in the future by providing an accurate baseline from which to grow.
2. Ensure financial transparency.
Transparency helps to foster strong relationships with donors. When you’re clear about your use of fundraising revenue, you can show donors that your organization is trustworthy — donors are not likely to give to an organization that is dishonest about fund management.
Financial transparency is vital to a nonprofit for these key reasons:
- Increasing donor trust: Being open about your finances allows your donors to see that you make responsible financial choices, which in turn leads to increased confidence that donations are being handled correctly.
- Attracting new donations: When your supporters can see exactly where current donor money is being used, it can increase both new donations and repeat donors. Many potential donors use tools like Guidestar and Charity Navigator to check out an organization and its finances before ultimately deciding whether to give.
- Avoiding a scandal: Without proper transparency in place, a nonprofit can quickly find themselves involved in a financial scandal. A lack of transparency could lead to a misunderstanding between parties. To avoid this issue for your nonprofit altogether, making sure your finances are public is the way to go.
One effective way of increasing transparency is through your organization’s annual report. The IRS requires that most tax-exempt nonprofits submit an annual report via tax form 990, which then becomes public record. This form serves many purposes — one of which being to ensure financial transparency between donors and the nonprofits they give to.
Your Form 990 can become a PR tool that can be used to communicate your organization’s financial records with your supporters. Making your finances easily accessible assures your potential and retained donors that you can be trusted with their contributions.
3. Put the fun in fundraising.
Donors get tired of seeing the same boring fundraising campaigns over and over again. Finding new and exciting fundraising strategies will boost donor engagement and, in turn, increase donations.
The more interactive a campaign, the more engaged your donors will be! Try integrating these three ideas into your fundraising strategy for a more successful result:
- Games: Gamification can be used to show your supporters the progress toward your final goal or encourage friendly competition among donors. One popular choice that brings out the competitive side of many donors is a gender challenge, in which donors try to outgive another gender. The competition increases the stakes, thus increasing the donations.
- Events: Hosting an event to attract donors is often an excellent way to gather attention and donations for your nonprofit. Just a few examples include galas, banquets, talent shows, etc. The best events involve initial funds to host but usually end up turning a generous profit.
- Prizes: Offering exciting prizes for donations is another way to boost engagement. Raffles are a widely used fundraiser that may offer a variety of prizes from a gift card to a new car. Plus, it’s an effective way to encourage donations.
By implementing these types of enjoyable, interactive fundraisers, supporters will be more likely to give (and to give in higher amounts!) Figure out which types of games and events will best appeal to your nonprofit’s audience and use that to bring in the funds.
4. Use the best resources.
To create a seamless fundraising process and meet all of your goals, you’ll need to ensure you have the right set of tools to get the jobs done. There are thousands of excellent choices when it comes to nonprofit software solutions. These platforms can range from free to thousands of dollars, depending on the functionality and scope of the software.
Try to find a set of resources that are a perfect combination of effective and budget-friendly.
A few key tips for cutting costs include:
- Watch out for hidden software costs: When it comes to buying fundraising software for your nonprofit, Bloomerang notes the importance of checking for any hidden fees not stated in the prices upfront. These are including, but not limited to, training fees and payment processing fees.
- Explore free options: New and smaller organizations might find it helpful to temporarily invest in a smaller software solution so long as it’s safe. However, as the organization grows, staff members should be ready to switch again because they’ll likely outgrow the limited functionality of a free solution before terribly long.
- Recruit excellent volunteers: Having a solid set of volunteers that are willing to assist your organization can help you save on overhead and staffing costs. Ask volunteers to contribute their time to set up and run a particular event or for helping out in the headquarters on a more regular basis.
- Use an e-filer: Your nonprofit can save thousands of dollars each year when tax season rolls around by filing your own tax forms with a certified e-filer rather than investing in an accountant. E-filing software offers an easy-to-use solution for only a fraction of the cost of an account.
Cutting out unnecessary costs is an excellent way to reach your financial goals and allow your fundraising revenue to stretch further. Being budget-conscious is especially important as a nonprofit.
5. Don’t forget to say thank you.
Once you accept a donation, you don’t want to forget about the donor who contributed it. When it comes to fundraising, continuing to develop your relationships is one of the most important pieces.
This is often referred to as donor stewardship, which is defined by the process of building and maintaining long-term relationships with your donors.
Although often neglected, it is vital to remember that donors are real people with their own lives, families, and careers; and real people like to feel appreciated! Be sure to thank your donors for their contribution to your mission and let them know that their gift really helps.
Here are our three favorite ways to say thank you:
- Phone calls: A phone call is one of the most personal ways to thank a donor, and that can go a long way to show your appreciation. Addressing the donor by name, although a seemingly small detail, can make a big difference in personalizing the conversation.
- Letters: Although an email will suffice in many circumstances, a letter in the mail will likely stand out more to the donor. Additionally, a handwritten letter will come across as much more personal than a typed one. And, it is a physical reminder of your organization and how they can continue to help!
- Social media:While it’s a less personal choice, social platforms provide an opportunity to thank your entire array of donors on a general level. You may use pictures and videos to update your audience on a current project and how their donations made it happen, keeping your organization at the top of their mind.
Again, your choice in donor stewardship methods will vary depending on your nonprofit’s audience — choose a practice that will work best with your donors.
Regardless of your preferred thank-you method, your gratitude will strengthen your relationship with current donors and pave the way for new relationships to form.
Once you have implemented these tips and tricks in your nonprofit fundraising, look back at those SMART goals you created. Don’t be discouraged if you didn’t quite reach a goal you set; just rework your goals going forward and try again!
About the Author
Mathew Tooker’s expertise is in sales forecasting, goal setting, client growth initiatives and business development and analytics. When he is not laser focused on moving organizations forward, you can find him spending time with his wife, Lauren, and two dogs, Reagan and Teddy, running marathons and watching the Atlanta Braves and Auburn sports.