The SMARTer Way to Fundraising Goals

26 Jul

The start of every great cause is a vision that inspires people to act. Yet, a vision can only take you or your organization so far. You’ll need well-developed goals that help manage your progress and offer guidance through challenges to be successful.

To better develop goals, many fundraising organizations employ the S.M.A.R.T. criteria to improve their performance. The S.M.A.R.T. criteria challenges a goal until clear objectives and trajectory are found. Here’s what each letter in S.M.A.R.T. stands for with insight on how to develop better fundraising goals:

S – Specific

The first step to establishing SMART goals is to be specific with what your objectives. When objectives are too vague, the goal runs the risk of losing momentum and failing when it is challenged.

A fundraising organization can specify their goals by answering the Five Ws of information-gathering:

  • Who must be involved to achieve the goal?
  • What is the desired result? What objectives must be met to accomplish the main goal?
  • When must the objectives and goal be met?
  • Where is the desired location or event?
  • Why work towards this goal?

M – Measurable

After you’ve defined the specifics of your goal and its objectives, the next step is to ensure its measurability. When your goal and objectives are measurable, accessing success or failure becomes objective. For goals that long timelines, keeping measure of your fundraiser’s progress can help illustrate how much more needs to be done before the organization is successful.

In fundraising, a fundamental metric used is the amount of money being made. However, some fundraisers have other numbers to keep into account, like costs, deadlines, specifications, and manpower. To make your goal and its objectives measurable, ask “how” questions like:

  • How much have we raised so far? How much more do I need to raise?
  • How much time and money do I need to invest?
  • How many volunteers do I need?

A – Attainable

One of the most challenging questions to ask when creating SMART goals is, “are my goals and objectives attainable with our time and resources?” Keep in mind that challenging goals will require greater performance to succeed. It’s easy to get sidetracked in the excitement and commit to something that is out of reach.

If your organization has history, consider using previous experiences to evaluate the attainability of your goal. Organizations that are new or have a short history may want to consider breaking challenging goals into smaller objectives for better measurability.

R – Relevant

The relevancy of a goal focuses on how it contributes to the greater cause of an organization. For example, if your fundraiser’s cause is to help your local school’s extracurricular program, then the fundraising goal must serve the needs of the program.

To ensure that your goal is relevant to your cause, create a sales pitch that you would give to a supporter or potential sponsor. The sales pitch should be simple and connects how the goal will lead to the cause.

T – Time-Bound

All goals should have a deadline. It’s what helps motivate the organization to act and maintain a high level of performance. If the fundraiser has an open deadline, then create a target deadline that is feasible with your dedicated resources.

The S.M.A.R.T. criteria are a smarter method of developing goals that will keep your fundraising organization on track to meeting its cause. With the S.M.A.R.T., your organization will have more clarity on how to evaluate success or failure for smarter decisions on your fundraising journey.


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