Work Smarter: Setting SMART Fundraising Goals

You’ve probably heard of SMART goals. The acronym’s origin is unclear but it’s generally accepted to stand for: 

Image: David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Relevant
Time-bound

Setting SMART fundraising goals helps to ensure that your team knows the expectations, that all stakeholders are on the same page, and you have clear standards by which to measure your success. 

Specific

When you’re establishing your goals, be wary of vague targets. For example, if your goal is to raise “a lot of money,” the non-specific term “a lot” is problematic. “A lot” means different things to different people. Is $1,000 a lot of money? $100,000? More? Less? Somewhere in between? To avoid the ambiguity, be specific.

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Measurable

Along the same lines as specific goals, measurable goals allow you to determine if you’re successful. All of the specific goals in the example above are also measurable. For example if your goal is to raise $10,000 and you raise $11,000, you’re able to measure what was raised – 10% over your goal! 

Attainable

You want to set yourself and your team up for success by setting goals that can actually be reached. That said, goals that are too easy are not very motivating nor do they serve your cause well. I would argue that the A of SMART could stand for Ambitious (but Attainable). You and your team will feel more accomplished, satisfied and successful when your goals are stretch goals rather than a sure thing. Ideally your goals will walk the thin line of being motivating without being impossible. 

Relevant

In fundraising, the money you’re raising needs to align with the work and mission of your nonprofit. For example, you wouldn’t be raising money to fund a homeless shelter if your organization’s mission is to fund public art projects. Relevant fundraising goals align with the “why” of your work, as outlined in your case for support.

Time-Bound

My recent post, Timelines Are Like Kitchens, outlines the importance of timelines in helping you meet your goals. Organizing fundraising tactics into a calendar with firm deadlines will help you to think strategically about what to do when. Fundraising goal deadlines can also serve to motivate you, other staff and your volunteers. Just as above, you’ll want deadlines that are ambitious but attainable. 

Special gift for you: Conquer Your Fear of Asking for Money, a step-by-step guide, is available here (click). 

What are your thoughts on SMART goals? If you have a suggestion for other fundraisers or experience with anything in this post, please share in the Comments box below!