Goals: Internal or External?
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 goals are set.
I like to say 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.
External fundraising 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 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 a fundraising goal based on financial need puts your organization on the proverbial road to you-know-where.
Better to adjust your financial priorities, set fundraising 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 capacity and your program’s performance, then set goals that your donors will really want to exceed.
Now that’s a sustainable fundraising idea!
To your fundraising success!
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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