How to Set a Fundraising Goal: A Step-by-Step Guide

Fundraising is essential for your nonprofit and for many other organizations and causes. But it can be challenging to set a  nonprofit fundraising goal for your campaigns. It's helpful to  consider why you're fundraising, how much the campaign or event will cost, and how generous your audience is.

This guide will walk you through the process of setting a fundraising goal that's both realistic and ambitious. It will give you the tools you need to maximize your fundraising potential, whether you have experience or not.


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What is The Importance of Setting a Fundraising Goal?

Inspiring donors to take action begins with a clear motive and goals. Your fundraising goal is the north star that guides your efforts, enables you to track progress, and ensures your team’s work aligns with your overarching mission.

In addition to providing a clear benchmark for measuring fundraising progress and success, a goal offers a sense of purpose for your organization and donors. Having a specific target to work toward can inspire and energize individuals and teams, encouraging them to put in the effort required to achieve the goal.


What is a Good Fundraising Goal?

So, you know you need a goal for your fundraiser, but how do you determine what it should be?

A strong fundraising goal is well-defined, ties directly to your cause or project, and is realistically achievable. But most importantly, it should ignite enthusiasm and support with your donors and team. 

Consider using the “SMART” framework to set goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.


  • Specific goals clearly define what you aim to achieve, so stakeholders are aligned on the cause you support and the money you need to raise.
  • Measurable goals allow for tracking and assessment of progress. For example, a goal of raising $15,000 in three months enables you to set monthly goals of $5,000 to track incremental progress.
  • Attainable goals are challenging but realistic, ensuring that they can be accomplished with effort and resources.
  • Relevant goals are directly tied to your organization's mission and aligned with your purpose.
  • Time-based goals come with a defined time frame for achievement, which adds urgency and helps keep everyone on track.

Applying the SMART framework when setting goals for your fundraising can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your fundraising efforts by keeping everyone focused and aligned.


7 Steps: How to Set  a Fundraising Goal

With the importance of goal-setting in mind, let’s take a closer look at the steps to setting an effective goal that helps you push your mission forward.


1. Research and Analyze Fundraising Benchmarks

Start by researching similar fundraising campaigns in your niche. What goals did they set? What were their strategies? What resources did they have? This research will provide valuable insights into what is achievable and reasonable for your campaign.


📊 Don't forget to include your own benchmarks. How have your previous events and/or campaigns performed? What have you raised from each one over the past few years? Is it trending up or down? Do you easily meet the goals, which may indicate it's time to reach further?


2. Assess Your Current Financial Situation

Before setting a goal, evaluate your current financial situation. How much funding do you currently have? What are your ongoing expenses? This assessment will help you determine how much additional funding is needed and what your organization can realistically raise.


3. Define the Purpose of the Fundraising Campaign

It's important to define the purpose of your fundraising campaign clearly. Is it to launch a new project, support ongoing operations, or respond to a specific crisis? Your purpose should be compelling, specific, and closely tied to your organization's mission.


4. Set a Realistic and Achievable Fundraising Goal

Based on your research, financial assessment, and campaign purpose, set a goal that is both realistic and achievable (in line with the SMART framework). It should challenge your organization while also inspiring your supporters.


💡Remember: you may want to set individual fundraising goals as well. It can be a powerful motivator for team fundraising events. Pair a fundraising goal with other benefits, like a waived registration fee or free T-shirt, to really unlock the psychology.


5. Create a Fundraising Plan

A well-crafted fundraising plan outlines your strategies and tactics to reach your goal. Include details such as target audiences, fundraising channels, and a timeline for each activity. . This will make tracking progress toward your goal on your fundraising calendar much easier.


💡When you make your plan for the year, take into account your donor profiles. Not every campaign, project, or event will speak to everyone. Having a nonprofit CRM helps you segment and target your donors, boosts success, and ensures you make the most of every "ask."


6. Monitor and Adjust the Fundraising Goal

As your campaign progresses, closely monitor your fundraising efforts. Are you on track to meet your goal? If you need more time, be prepared to adjust your strategies and even your goals if necessary. Or if you have a major donor who pops up ready to match, you may want to raise your target to fully capitalize on the generosity. Things sometimes go differently than planned, so adaptability is the key to success.


🌡️Pro tip: Include a live thermometer on your fundraising campaign page. It helps everyone—internal teams as well as external supporters—know how you're doing. There's nothing like a thermometer to inspire a little competition. For peer-to-peer events, you can even include a personal or team thermometer to really tap into the competitive spirit.


7. Celebrate Success and Recognize Contributors

Once you've achieved your goal, remember to celebrate your success and the team's hard work. Express gratitude to your donors and recognize their contributions. It's a great way to maintain donor engagement and strengthen your nonprofit's community.


💡 The founder of For Kids' Sake says she tries to make sure she's saying thank you in at least eight ways. Check out her advice for engaging supporters and banishing ask shyness.


Set Up a Relevant and Achievable Fundraising Goal with FrontStream

Setting a goal is a critical step in any nonprofit organization's journey. It provides focus and direction for your fundraising efforts and inspires donors to rally behind your cause. By following these steps and guidelines, you can ensure your fundraising campaigns are rewarding and successful.

But setting your goals is only the beginning. There are tons of proven strategies to motivate people to donate or participate in your event. 

FrontStream, a leading provider of fundraising platforms and donor management solutions, can help you get started by streamlining the entire fundraising process, from goal setting through execution and donor engagement.

Request a demo to learn how FrontStream can support your fundraising efforts.


Schedule a demo with an expert today!


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