Wouldn’t you love a crystal ball that you could gaze into and see just what the future holds?

You’d know how to make the best choices. Which paths to take. What to say “no” to.

What if that crystal ball could tell you how much money you’ll raise by the end of the year?

That would take all the guess work out. Maybe even lower your stress level a bit.

Here’s a way to predict what your year-end fundraising results might look like. Now, to be clear, you’ll still have to work. Results don’t just show up without some sweat on your part. But, here’s how you can gauge what’s possible and what it will take to make it happen. Cool?

Start here

Where do all good things start? With the end in mind.

Start by clearly defining your organization’s impact goal. What’s BIG difference does your nonprofit exist to make? What specifically do you want to accomplish before the end of this year?

  • For an animal rescue, how many dogs/cats/guinea pigs do you want to save?
  • For a food bank, how many pounds of food and subsequent meals will you distribute?
  • For Habitat for Humanity, how many families will become homeowners?

Goals with zip and zing tend to raise more money than those that are ordinary and unremarkable. So, if you’re working to serve more people or eliminate a waiting list, that’s a good thing.

Being really clear about your goal will help attract more support because people will be able to easily understand what you’re raising money for.

Once you know what you’re working toward, then you can start with the prognosticating.


Set 3 main goals

Most folks focus on one thing in year-end fundraising: money.

Seems obvious.

But if you’re a student of your craft, you know there are other things that are equally important, like donor retention.


Donor Retention

Donor retention numbers are in the toilet across the board (the latest stat I heard was 46%). And it’s stupid in my opinion.

Keeping donors is simple: Be thoughtful and treat your donor like a friend.

What do friends do? They stay in touch. They get to know each other. They spend time together. Do this with your donors and watch what happens.

The problem is that so many Fundraisers are so focused on the money that they forget about the relationship. That’s where the problem starts.

So, value the relationship over the gift. Be a friend. Problem solved.


Donor Acquisition

Right alongside donor retention, you need to think about donor acquisition. Where and how will you get new donors to replace the ones that are slipping away? How can you inspire them to want to pull out their wallet and make a donation?

Always be on the lookout for people who are likely to care about your nonprofit’s mission. You aren’t looking for rich people (remember, don’t focus on the money!). Instead, focus on what they care about. Then think about where they hang out

  • For an animal rescue, you may find new donors at the dog park or the pet store (Chances are good that if they care about their own pet, they may care about the ones you’re trying to help, too).
  • For a food bank, you may find new donors through a promotion at your local grocery store (it’s a natural place to donate food), or maybe in a women’s group at a local church (these ladies tend to care about others in need).
  • For Habitat for Humanity, think about your local home builders (they might want to support your work) or a church mission group (again, they care about others in need).


3 Main Goals of Year-End Fundraising

So, there are 3 main things you should be focused on as you raise money:

  • Total dollars you need to fund your work
  • The number of current donors you need to renew
  • The number of new donors you need to bring in

Set specific, measurable goals for each one of these based on historical data, and predicting success will get easier. Lay out the strategies you plan to use (direct appeals, ask events, monthly giving, etc.) and how each one will support each of these three goals, and you can come very close to predicting what your numbers will look like by year-end.


Sprinkle on the pixie dust

Having a plan is one thing. Making it happen is another.

People who are committed to their success usually reach their goals. The ones who use lots of excuses are the ones who struggle.

(If you find yourself using excuses like “I don’t know any rich people” or “It’s not a good time to ask for money,” you’re going to have problems. You might want to get some help with your mindset.)

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to noodle around on to get some fresh perspective on things.

  • What fundraising activities worked well last year that you can repeat this year? Is there a way to make them even more productive?
  • What didn’t work at all and should be let go?
  • What sort of worked but has room for improvement and needs to be tweaked?
  • What fundraising activities seemed easy to do? Which ones do you personally enjoy doing?
  • What fundraising activities do you despise?
  • What could you let go of that would free up some time and energy for something even better to take its place?
  • What could you delegate to someone else (another staff person, volunteer, intern, or committee)?

The answers to these questions will give you some clues about where to spend your time to get the most bang for the buck. Only do those things that bring you the most ROI. Avoid the ‘nickel and dime’ stuff.


Got your Game Plan?

Once you have your 3 main goals and you know which strategies to use to move you toward those goals in big steps, you’re ready to execute.

Remember to refer back to your plan regularly – it’ll keep you from indulging in ‘shiny ball syndrome’ which has you chasing every new idea that comes down the pike, and ultimately ensure your plan’s success.


Sandy Rees shows nonprofit leaders how to fully fund their big vision, so they can spend more time changing lives instead of worrying about money. She has helped dozens of small nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to adding 6 figures to their bottom line. As a trainer, she shows her students how to find ideal donors, connect through authentic messaging, and build relationships that stand the test of time, so that fundraising becomes easy and predictable. Find out more at www.GetFullyFunded.com.