Setting a fundraising goal is part art and part science

When you’re launching a crowdfunding campaign for your organization, the first question that your colleagues and supporters will ask is “what’s your goal?” You want your answer to be both ambitious and achievable.

The good news is that we’re here to help you utilize your own data so you can formulate a smart fundraising goal.

In order to do that, you’re going to answer several key questions. 

Internal Inputs

It’s important to look at the forest before you look at the trees. Take some time to understand your own organization. 

  • Where are the various sources of your organization’s annual income? 
  • What percentage comes from donations vs government grants vs foundation grants vs corporate sponsorship? 
  • What other sources of income do you have? Perhaps you have a revenue-generating service, for instance.

Once you have that information, you can begin to zero in on your donorbase, i.e., individuals who have given you (or can give you) a donation. For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to solely focus on donors and not on government/foundation grants or other sources of income. 

Segment your donorbase into different categories. You may choose to categorize your donors into: alumni, personal friends, event attendees, parents, donors from past crowdfunding campaigns, and miscellaneous.

Export that list so you have a comprehensive breakdown of each segment that includes

a) the total number of donors within each segment

b) the total amount that each segment gave last year. Once you have that data, calculate the percentage of each number, too. 

Finally, add a column for the total number of people in your database (donors PLUS non-donors) with each segment. 

Number of Donors% of DonorsDollar Amount% of DollarsAverage Gift SizeTotal # in Database
Alumni51037.78%$68,85032.58%135750
Parents42031.11%$94,50044.72%225700
Friends1309.63%$17,6808.37%136200
Attendees19014.07%$20,9009.89%110190
Misc.1007.41%$9,4004.45%94250
TOTAL1350100.00%$211,330100%7002,090 

The value of this list cannot be overstated. This list contains the data you need to make an informed decision about your campaign goal. This list provides the light so you are not shooting in the dark. 

Now let’s look at external inputs. 

External Inputs

Thinking about the factors outside of your donorbase, the first of two key questions you have to answer is: What is the sense of urgency around raising a certain amount of money? 

In other words, let’s say that if you fail to make an upcoming $100,000 payment in three months, your organization will be evicted from the premises. In that unfortunate scenario, external factors will influence the goal. 

Hopefully you are not in such a dire situation. So ask yourself, “How much money do we need to function as a healthy organization?”

The second question you should answer is: Where does this campaign fit into the rest of the annual fundraising strategy? 

For some organizations, their CauseMatch campaign is IT, their only major fundraiser of the year. For these organizations, an ambitious goal is crucial since their yearly budget relies on it.

For others, their campaign is one piece of a larger ecosystem. If they don’t set an ambitious goal, they can find the sources of income from other streams of income. 

Decisions like setting your crowdfunding are never made in a vacuum; other details matter.

Campaign Personalities

Each of your donors can fit into one of seven personalities for the purpose of this campaign. 

Donor – anyone who gives anything (not just money!) to your organization. These folks may have donated their time or social capital to support your cause. 

Crowd – this group will be the largest in terms of numbers of people but smallest in terms of dollar amount. These folks will be called on the day of the campaign to contribute a modest donation.

Matcher – these are your largest financial supporters. They want to help and are willing to incentivize others to donate by doubling every dollar that comes in on the day of the campaign. 

Pro tip: not all matchers are current donors to your organization. You may find someone outside of your current donorbase who wants to amplify donations. 

Accelerator – people who want to ignite your campaign with a large gift on the day of the campaign. This group can add a spark when your campaign needs rocket fuel. They differ from the crowd in that you want to solicit them in advance of the campaign. They differ from matchers in that their gift won’t amplify other donations but will help your campaign progress.

Ambassador these folks take on personal fundraising goals so you can reach an even wider audience. They will open up their contact books. They will post on social media on your behalf. Ambassadors are critical pieces of your volunteer army.

Influencer – someone who can mobilize the masses. These people generally have a platform to speak, and people listen. They are generally mini-celebrities in their own communities

Pro tip: Don’t just ask your influencers to tell their audience to give; ask them to recruit ambassadors! If an influencer recruits five ambassadors, and if those ambassadors each bring in 10 new donors to your campaign, then you’ve just successfully recruited 50 new donors with ONE ask.

Team Captain – a group, often volunteers, who each take on the responsibility of ‘holding the ambassadors accountable’ for the goals that they have set.

Time For Math

Let’s say you think you can get $100,000 in matching money from your major donors. And you want to do the math to see if you can raise another $100,000 from the crowd. 

Here’s how you could break it down.

Could you recruit 20 ambassadors to commit to raising $2,000 from their family and friends?

Could you find five accelerators who could add in $5,000 gifts in the middle of the campaign?

If so, you have just accounted for $45,000 of the remaining $100,000. 

Now is when you ask yourself, “where does the remaining $55,000 come from?”

Potential sources could be: 

  1. Recruit another 10 ambassadors to raise money for you
  2. Go back to your original segments and find non-donors whom you have cultivated… it’s time to make the ask!
  3. Go back to your original segments to see where there is potential for increased gifts. In the example above, parents had the largest average gift amount so it would make sense to start from there.
  4. Ask your ambassadors to raise their commitment another $1,000
  5. Think about different people you have inspired over the years; exercise the leadership capabilities that got you here in the first place!
  6. Utilize your influencers! Ask them if they have ideas to mobilize their audiences and generate support

Hedge Your Bet

Once you have your goal, you may want to reduce it by 20%. There is often at least one “whoops” on the day of the campaign. 

Maybe one of your Accelerators gets sick. Maybe one of your Ambassadors fails to reach his goal. Maybe the ball just doesn’t bounce your way on the day of the campaign. 

Factor in some swings and misses. 

Putting It All Together

You’ve studied the data on your donorbase. You’ve accounted for the external factors driving you to fundraise. You have a sense as to how many prospects you may be able to turn into donors and how many donors you can ask for an increased gift. You’ve even used conservative numbers to ensure that you don’t overestimate your Ambassadors.

Now, it’s time to name your goal. 

One of the many advantages to working with CauseMatch is that you never have to feel alone in your campaign. We’re here to help. Tell us how much you think you can raise and why! Our team has run THOUSANDS of campaigns, and we put that experience to use. 

We’ll provide feedback and ask pointed questions so that you can qualify your campaign goal, positioning your organization for maximum success.

Fundraising help is just a phone call away. Contact us today and let’s get to work. 

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