Creating a Development Plan with SMART goals

A fundraising development plan with SMART goals is essential for any charity or non-profit.

The plan should be in line with your charity’s fiscal year so that you can easily set realistic goals in line with your charity’s budget and measure results. I suggest doing quarterly reports against your plan so that you can see how your various fundraising activities are performing and make any adjustments to your strategies and efforts in that aspect of fundraising.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are those that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Setting SMART goals keeps you and your charity on track to success.

The goals in your charity’s annual Development Plan should be clearly defined. It’s not enough to say, “Raise more money for our programs.”  You need to set detailed objectives for each part of your plan — for major gifts, grants, the annual campaign, the legacy campaign and so on. Here’s an example: “To raise at least $30,000 net from the spring appeal letter by September 1.” For small charities, goals for legacy programs won’t be revenue because it’s not realistic, but a specific goal might be to increase the number of people who say they have included a bequest to your charity from X number to Y number by a certain date.

Unless a goal is measurable, you can’t know if you’ve achieved it. Just raising “more money” is not a measurable goal. Know what you’re aiming for and be specific in your plan. If you want to increase your number of monthly donors from 30 to 60 and to increase the annual revenue from your monthly donor program from $X to $Y, then say so in your plan. If part-way through the year you can see that you’ve made no progress on this part of your plan, address it, perhaps with a specific campaign to recruit monthly donors.

Sadly, there’s no magic wand in fundraising. In collaboration with your charity’s executive director, you have to set realistic, achievable goals. If the goals set out in your Development Plan are way too high to achieve it will just be discouraging to you and your team. Moreover, they will also give the board of directors a false picture of what is possible. Before you set your overall revenue goal for the fiscal year and the specific goals for each aspect of your fundraising plan, know your benchmarks and understand any challenges that you face for that area of fundraising. For instance, if your annual holiday appeal has raised an average of $40,000 per year over the past five years, then it’s OK to set a realistic stretch goal, but be realistic in your plan. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver.

Your mission and programs must guide your plan. Don’t go madly off in all directions. Know what fundraising methods are the most relevant and suitable for your organization.

Set a deadline or timeline for each goal. Often, the deadline for goals will be the end of the fiscal year, but state it for each goal. If your goals aren’t time-bound they can easily stagnate. Deadlines keep you and your charity on track.

Good luck and may you and your organization achieve your missions!