The Importance of Setting Realistic Fundraising Goals

importance of realistic fundraising goals

Fundraising is a necessary part of a school organization’s existence. In a time when so many budget cuts are being made, programs have to get their operational funds from somewhere. Part of fundraising is setting realistic fundraising goals. This process, when done carefully and thoroughly, leads to greater fundraising success.


When it comes to setting goals and planning a successful school fundraiser from start to finish, research is a fundamental element. Just like in other contexts, where even the best-laid plans can go awry, fundraising is no exception. Doing your homework and conducting careful research will help you cover all your bases.


Understanding your fundraising goals is also important. Do you want to raise a certain amount of money within a specific timeframe? Are you looking to increase sponsorship? What are your goals? Setting clear and achievable goals–both short-term and long-term–is very important


 setting realistic fundraising goals



Setting Unrealistic Fundraising Goals Can Lead To Several Negative Consequences



Demotivation and Burnout 


These come from overly difficult goals to achieve. Fundraising is challenging. If participants consistently fall short of unrealistic targets, they may lose motivation. “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew. Make sure your volunteers do not lose heart.


Loss of Credibility and Negative Publicity


Donors and supporters may question the organization’s competence and transparency if it frequently cannot meet goals. This will have far-reaching effects in the future. Coming under public scrutiny is never comfortable.


Wasted Resources and Missed Opportunities


When you pursue the wrong goals, you mis-allocate resources. Why invest time, money and effort into something that has little chance of success? And you may miss smaller, less flashy but more reliable fundraising opportunities.


Strain on Relationships


Fundraising depends on your organization’s relationship with donors and supporters. If you put that relationship to the test with ill-conceived goals, it will suffer. No one wants to take part in a “losing” proposition.


Financial Stress


Depending on the scale of the unrealistic goals, organizations may find themselves in financial distress. Relying on fundraising revenue that never materializes can lead to cash flow problems, debt, and financial instability.


Ethical Concerns


In some cases, pursuing unrealistic fundraising goals may lead to unethical practices, such as misrepresenting the organization’s work or inflating the impact of donations. Such actions can have legal and ethical consequences, as well as leading to negative publicity.


how to set realistic fundraising goals


The Benefits of Setting Realistic Fundraising Goals




Realistic goals contribute to long-term organizational sustainability. By establishing realistic goals, you are more likely to reach them, thus keeping your organization viable.


Donor Confidence 


Donors will see that you are competent and handling their money well and with transparency. Nothing makes people more nervous than not knowing what you are doing with their money. You want donors to be utterly confident in your abilities caring for their funds.


Motivation and Morale 


Nothing motivates a fundraising team more than an achievable goal in sight. Not even a box of donuts, trust us. Consistent progress towards realistic, measurable goals really boosts morale.


Better Strategy Development 


This ties into sustainability. Attainable goals enable effective fundraising strategy development. You can allocate resources appropriately when goals are realistic.


Some Proven Strategies for Setting Realistic Fundraising Goals


Use a data-driven approach. Analyze historical data and trends. Set goals that align with your organization’s past performance.


When you assess past fundraising performance, make sure you analyze fundraising and financial data to identify your organization’s needs, successes, and challenges.


Consider your present circumstances. Do you have a lot of steady donors? Do you have leftover monies from the last fundraiser or are you in dire need? 


Evaluate external factors that influence fundraising goals. Many things come into consideration here, such as grant changes, economic conditions, legislation, leadership changes, and so on.


Don’t forget to plan for the future when you are setting goals. Align your priorities with your organization’s strategic vision. If you don’t have a strategic vision, it might be time to put one together.


benefits of setting realistic fundraising goals


Four Big Questions to Answer When Fundraising


  1. What do we want to do
  2. How much do we need?
  3. How much do we have
  4. What can our donors give?


Remember to consider non-financial fundraising goals as well. Set goals beyond monetary figures, such as acquiring new donors. This will ensure your organization’s long-term fundraising success.


Make your fundraising goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. SMART goals are more likely to be met. By following SMART guidelines, you ensure that your fundraising goals are realistic. 


Specific – be specific and detailed about your goal.


Measurable – make sure you can measure your goal – x amount of money, x amount of new donors, x amount of engagement on communications, etc.


Attainable – the sky’s the limit is not the approach to take here. Make sure your goal is something your organization can achieve.


Relevant – make sure your fundraising goal relates to your organization’s overall goal.


Timely – make sure your goal is fundraising for the right thing at the right time of year. 


Break your goal down into gift sizes so that you can sort out donors based on those sizes. Use past data to set gift targets. Often donors find it easier to give when they have a small array of choices before them. Trying to come up with a huge lump sum is a completely different mindset than achieving small, incremental goals.


For fundraising that encompasses both present and future, emphasize the ongoing nature of fundraising. Slow and steady wins the race. Take the time to document your process and outcomes so that you can make more accurate decisions in the future. And always conduct a post campaign analysis to find areas that need improving as well as to celebrate successes.


Getting input from everyone involved is a good idea. The value of involving key stakeholders such as teachers, staff, parents, and students in your goal setting cannot be overestimated. Different participants have varying viewpoints on what is important. These need to be accounted for to develop an accurate goal. What do administrators say? What do the beneficiaries of your fundraising want? Also, engage with your donors. Solicit feedback through surveys, meetings, emails and phone calls.


Be an advocate for incremental progress. Goals should build upon previous successes. Steady progress builds donor confidence and keeps morale high. It is also easier to monitor and adjust incremental goals, and prepare for potential shortfalls early. Align your well-thought-out goals with your capabilities and you’ll surpass them!


Another key quality is to be flexible in your goals. Adjusting your fundraising goals based on changing circumstances is important. Has a school administrator retired? Is the PTO still going to have that fundraiser in the spring? Did the school gain or lose some grant funding?


The importance of setting realistic fundraising goals is this: with realistic, incremental goals, you can make steady, sure progress. Without them, your fundraising efforts will flounder and eventually fail.


how to set fundraising goals



Using an online fundraising platform will streamline your process and make things easier for you to manage, even goal setting. For example, setting up a readathon through ReadaFun enables you to set up the fundraiser according to your needs. You choose dates, goals, incentives, and more to customize your experience. It makes record keeping and analytics easier as well.


At ReadaFun, we are dedicated to making fundraising using Read-A-Thons a successful and enjoyable experience for both schools and students. Our user-friendly platform provides the tools and resources needed to streamline the fundraising process, track reading progress, and facilitate secure online donations. With ReadaFun, PTO and PTA leaders can confidently organize a profitable Read-A-Thon that inspires students, empowers literacy, and leaves their community feeling proud and fulfilled. If you are interested in running a successful Read-A-Thon this year, feel free to contact us today! We would be more than happy to guide you through the process.

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