We are now a full month into the new year and for many of us, our sparkly resolutions are fading into the rear view (not yours, of course!). As fundraisers, we start the year with starry eyes and high hopes that this will be “our best year yet.” Because of this, the following tips are not for our intentions, but for achieving real results. This is the year that you will see your fundraising goals through to the finish line.
Read our top 5 tips to fundraise more effectively below. Unlike your resolution, these are here to stay. Keep them visible and return to them monthly, weekly, and daily to refocus your efforts. Post them where your employees can view them easily, send reminder emails, and make them your desktop background… Commit to them wholly.
1. Set clear goals
Sounds easy enough? Setting clear main goals and supporting goals is harder than it seems. Your main goal will drive your efforts for the entire year! Set a goal with a concrete number: “We will raise $250,000 this year for our annual campaign.” If your organization runs different campaigns (or one goal won’t suffice) set a main goal for each campaign.
Next, decide how each management level and department will support these goals. Here are some questions to guide your process:
These are just a guide to start– there are many more facets to consider when setting supporting goals. Ideally, these ancillary goals will give each department their marching orders. They will keep you on track and give every member of your team a measurable number to work towards.
2. Be transparent and open
Announce annual goals to your entire company and openly discuss how you plan to reach your target numbers. Everyone in your organization needs to know how they are supporting your fundraising goals. And we mean everyone- from your managing director to your interns. Goals should be clearly communicated and reinforced.
Additionally, make your goals known to donors and include it in your campaign messaging. Knowing the “big picture” is highly motivating for both big and small donors and lets every donor know they are helping you reach your goals. Additionally, a transparent attitude will inspire your organization internally and help drive the members of your team directly responsible for securing donations (like your “major gifts” manager).
3. Hold yourself (and others) accountable
Keep track of progress and recognize when you are off target. Many find that monthly tracking is not sufficient and leaves them scrambling to catch up when numbers are down. If you fall into this group, then implement bi-monthly or even weekly tracking. This can be as simple as inviting managers to create a shared Google spreadsheet for their department. You can use this spreadsheet to project numbers, then track real time progress. We personally find that scheduling time every week to track results keeps you laser-focused on the end-goal and accountable for lagging numbers. Even better? When you have hard data in front of your eyes on a regular basis, you can quickly adapt to stay on track!
Ok, but what if your numbers are low? Should you be discouraged? Never! Do not let one slow month wreck your goals. Instead, use it to fuel your efforts for the months that follow. Accountability is a wonderful tool in the workplace, when used correctly. Use positive language when speaking about accountability and phrases like “When you meet your weekly goal, you are setting the entire organization up for success.”
4. Celebrate the little victories
Meet every donation, big and small, head on with gratitude and celebration. Recognize and applaud weekly and monthly departmental goal achievements. Honor your employees who are going above and beyond to secure donations and support your goals. If you are way ahead of your goals (cheers to you!), set new ones. Don’t let surpassing a goal slow motivation- pick a new, higher number and fan the flames of determination.
Many nonprofits keep a physical chart posted on an office wall and fill it in as they work towards their goal (like this template). A visible reminder keeps the goal top of mind and is another fun way to celebrate donations! Finally, stay positive and remember to say thank you to every donor. For tips on giving thanks to donors, read this article and download our free Giving Thanks toolkit.
5. Say “No” to fear and hesitation
If something is not working, ditch it. “But I spent time and money on it,” you argue. Well, does the time and money you spent on it outweigh the cost of not meeting your fundraising goals? If it does, then you can stick with it. But it probably doesn’t. So, do not let this fear hold you back. Abandon what is not working in favor of innovation and adaptation. Set your eyes on the goal and do not waver. Do everything in your power to reach it- even if this means starting a new marketing effort in the 3rd quarter and pivoting your campaign entirely.
As nonprofit professionals, we can feel shackled to our budget. And sticking to budgets is a great thing– it keeps you up and running. But if you are way off course, request a meeting with your supervisor and discuss realistic (and budget-friendly) ways to pivot and meet your goals.
Reaching your goals takes hard work, but you can do it! Take the time to clearly define your goals, openly communicate them both inside your organization and outwardly to donors, keep your goals visible, vigilantly track your progress, celebrate every victory big and small, and remember to actively pivot along the way!