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Goals—Internal or External?

fundraising goals

Every fundraising program has them. Financial objectives, which are set and tracked internal to the organization. We also have fundraising goals, which we communicate to our constituents. I’ll call those “external” goals.

It really doesn’t matter whether the objective is internal or external. What matters is how these fundraising goals are set.

I like to say fundraising goals should be floors, not ceilings. Goals are things we want to exceed. Always.

This is where our donors inform us what the goals should be.

How’s that?

External fundraising program goals—the goals we communicate to those from whom we’re seeking the funds, should be set using the known capacity of your fundraising program. Every program has one. It’s easily computable. Trouble is it often isn’t. Computed, that is.

Knowing what you can actually raise isn’t rocket science. And it isn’t the product of wishful thinking, either.

Too often, external goals aren’t based in the reality of what you can raise but in the bottomless pit of organizational “need.”

That’s where the trouble really begins.

Goals are there to motivate—to grow interest. Putting a goal out there, which is beyond the realm of your fundraising capacity doesn’t motivate. It only creates a prime opportunity for failure.

Your organization feels the failure but even more costly, your donors do. The negative effects of those failed fundraising goals can last a decade.

When you set goals based on current fundraising reality, you create the potential for real success. Today and tomorrow.

“But, but, we need to have X,” you say.   “Our accountant says that X is the number we need to balance the budget.”

Not to minimize the financial challenges that some organizations face, simply assigning fundraising goals based on financial need puts your organization on the proverbial road to you-know-where.

Better to adjust your financial priorities, set fundraising program goals which are challenging but doable then put your focus on building your fundraising capacity.

So you can raise more the next time.

Principle 8 of The Eight Principles™ is Invest, Integrate & Evaluate™.   Evaluate your fundraising program capacity and your program’s performance, then set fundraising goals that your donors will really want to exceed.

Now that’s a sustainable fundraising idea!

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