Start SMART When Setting Fundraising Goals

Setting appropriate goals is one of the first and most important aspects of planning a successful event for your nonprofit.

Attainable goals affect every aspect of your planning and if they aren’t well defined you’ll discover all your hard work was for naught. If you find your fundraising goals are missing the mark become an expert by utilizing the S.M.A.R.T method.

In 1981 George Doran, a corporate planner and consultant, published a paper called “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.” It’s a five-part method for creating objectives, which we’ve adapted for use in setting achievable fundraising goals.


Whether it is more exposure or more funding, your goals must be specific. Be as precise as possible as you decide what success will look like at the end of your event. Is it number of attendees, donation totals, media response (traditional and social), or something else vital to your efforts?


No goal will be reached if it is not well defined in measurable terms. Ask questions like “how much?” and “how many?” and never settle for vague descriptions, like “a lot.” This information will provide you with the concrete details that will later tell you whether or not your event was a success.


Of course, it’s important for all nonprofits to dream big, but setting unrealistic objectives can derail the purpose of your goal-setting efforts. Choose ambitious but attainable goals to prevent your community from seeing a failure when they should view your event as a success. Your fundraising goals should always be inspiring, not impossible.


This is the all-important “why” question in your quest to set your fundraising goals. What impact will your event have on your nonprofit? What is the worth of that impact? You should know how each effort you make and each goal you set will affect your organization.


Good things come to those who adhere to a schedule, and this applies to setting fundraising goals, too. Appropriate scheduling is the engine that moves objectives forward to completion and motivates your team to complete each stage of the production on time. It also allows for regular check-ins to make sure all your efforts stay aligned with your goals and prevent unforeseen challenges as they come to light during execution of the plan.

Expert fundraising is easy when you start S.M.A.R.T. Look to this five-part method as a guide when planning your next event!

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