Being a firm believer in goals, I diligently write both personal and business goals each year. I even review them periodically to see how I am doing. Then, I read a great article that stopped me in my tracks. The author suggested that you should create one goal – what you really want to accomplish. Everything you do going forward should support that goal.
In my business that was easy. I wrote one goal and discussed it with my staff. By focusing all that we do around that one goal, we believe we will grow our bottom line and provide even more robust solutions for our clients regarding donor management software and fundraising.
Most nonprofits are fairly complex; therefore creating a single goal might be tough. Other articles I have read suggest three to five goals. There seems to be significant agreement regarding keeping the number of goals to a minimum and really focusing on those goals. That certainly makes sense considering that nonprofits are often faced with a scarcity of resources.
When I was a nonprofit development officer, I often wrote strategic plans with 8-12 goals. Most goals only received partial execution; some goals just fell by the wayside. There were not enough resources, time, money and people, to do it all.
For fundraisers, setting 3 to 5 goals should be relatively easy. The primary goal for most nonprofits has centered on raising a specific dollar amount. I believe that old paradigm needs to be tossed out and a new paradigm formulated. The new thinking needs to be around donor retention. How do we keep the donors we have and cultivate them to increase their giving, and therefore, secure the funding that our operation needs?
Research has demonstrated that nationwide, most organizations only retain 40% of their donors from year to year. That means a lot of time and money has to be expensed to continually acquire new donors. If a nonprofit retains the bulk of its current donors and secures new donors, it seems that the nonprofit would raise more money.
Perhaps the best fundraising goal is to retain at least 50 or 60 percent of your donors. Create strategies to educate, cultivate and steward donors to keep them engaged with your organization. For example, calling donors to say thank you for their gift can make a huge difference in how they respond when asked to make a second gift.
Donors are your organization’s lifeblood. Losing donors has major consequences. Keeping current donors will be healthier for your nonprofit and its ability to deliver its mission rather than constantly needing a transfusion.