If you’re struggling to raise funds for your organization, you’re not alone. You started your nonprofit to help people, not to spend all your time soliciting and fretting about resources. But the truth is you can’t do this important work without support. And by “support” we mean, you guessed it, money. So, what steps can you take to make sure you set a realistic fundraising goal that actually results in getting the funds you need to accomplish your longer term initiatives?

First, let’s discuss what “realistic” really means. Realistic does not mean you move from a $200,000 organization to a million dollar organization in one year. A realistic fundraising goal needs to acknowledge where you are with your fundraising program and offer a stretch. There is no magic formula but at a minimum, the goal should increase 3-5% each year to keep pace with the growing costs of doing business.

Beyond this, fundraising is more about relationships than money and thus the barometer for your fundraising potential is found in how well you are doing at honoring and building relationships with your key stakeholders.

As you consider how to set your annual fundraising goal, consider the following:

1. What initiatives do you want to accomplish in the next 3-5 years? What is your specific intentions for your programs and services?
2. Have you gathered cost estimates to evaluate how to make these initiatives happen?
3. How much does your organization currently raise on average? How many donors are retained from last year to this year? How many donors made larger gifts? Which donors have the potential for greater giving?

Donor retention can make or break your fundraising goal. As in business, your last donor is your next donor. The key to achieving fundraising goals is growing awareness and showing up for your current and growing relationships.

Gift Charts

A quick way to determine what it is going to take to achieve your fundraising goal is with the use of a gift chart. A gift chart depicts how many people you need to get in front of and ask for support. The approach is similar to a sales funnel used in the for profit side but factors in the real world phenomenon of Pareto’s 80/20 rule. You can expect 80% of your funding to come from 20% of your donors. Further, to secure one gift, you will need to identify 3-5 people who are capable of writing a check in the size you desire. 

Head starting to spin? Never fear, there is a calculator to help figure out the calculation. Try out this free Gift Chart. Plug in your desired fundraising amount and see how many people you need to approach and at what levels of support. After using the calculator, it might seem unreasonable to expect to raise the amount you originally set. Or you mind find that you will have more than initially expected. Either way, using these calculations can help you adjust your fundraising goal accordingly.

Once you’ve set a realistic fundraising goal, incorporating these five fundraising checkpoints in your strategic fundraising plan will help you meet your goal. Think of these checkpoints as a framework for developing a cohesive fundraising plan to reach peak performance of your fundraising efforts.


The most successful fundraising is intentional, thoughtful, and deliberate. You can’t afford to waste time or money chasing after people who are never going to care or give. Identify people who are passionate about the cause and start building your community.


Once you have identified people who also get mad as hell or whose heart aches about the issue your nonprofit seeks to address, it is time to reach out, connect, and cultivate relationships with your potential supporters. During this stage, your role is to educate your potential supporters about the work you are doing and why it matters.


New relationships bring new ideas and great conversations. Facilitating conversations regarding shared passions and hopes is one of the best ways to build quality relationships with potential donors who share your passion for the cause. You are inviting your potential supporters to walk alongside you in your shared quest to make a difference, so they are inspired to give when you ask for time, talent, and treasure.


As donors offer resources whether in time, energy, or funding, recognition is the key to keeping donors engaged in the cause. Expressing gratitude and thanking your donors lifts spirits and reminds them of how valuable their support is in making progress.


The final guidepost is one of the most important and yet often poorly executed in nonprofits. If you can show supporters the impact your organization is making using performance data and storytelling, fundraising will become so much easier and you’ll attract more donors.

Want to learn how your organization can adopt these checkpoints for ultimate fundraising potential? Fordable Fundraising can help. Let’s talk. Schedule your FREE consultation call today and let’s get working toward your goals!

Subscribe to Adventures in Fundraising Today!

Yes, I would like to receive emails from Fordable Fundraising.  Don't worry, you can unsubscribe anytime.

You have Successfully Subscribed!