Do you have written goals for your end of the year fundraising? You’ve probably heard this illustration before: having goals is like having a destination for a trip. If you get in the car and start heading somewhere without setting a destination, you’ll end up heading nowhere. The same is true for your goals. Do you have somewhere you’d like to reach? In this article, you will learn different types of end of the year goals you can set. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but instead a good place to start.

1. Income Goals

For most organizations, about 50% of their annual income arrives during the months of October, November, and December, with a majority generated in December. This isn’t true for all organizations. At Food for the Hungry, it is accurate for our digital income, but we have so many child sponsors that give monthly that this income evens out our revenue over the entire year. However, for digital single donors, I anticipate just over 50% of our income will come in this end of the year quarter.

The first step to setting your income goals for this quarter is to understand what your income mix looks like. Do you have a lot of monthly donors? Major donors? Foundation or corporate grants? These types of donations may impact your cash flow and the percentage of donations that come in at year end.

How Do I Set an Income Goal?

If you have annual targets set, look at the percentage of your income that came in for each department in the previous three years. This will give you a good idea of what percentage you should set of your annual goal to come in this quarter.

If you don’t have any annual goal for fundraising income, you can look at past revenue numbers and based on your typical growth percentage, estimate what your goal should be for this quarter.

If you don’t have an annual target and your nonprofit is too new for historical clues, you’ll need to set goals based on what campaigns you’re running and what your expectations are. Many nonprofits target raising funds at a 3:1 or 4:1 return, meaning you raise $3 for every $1 you spend or $4 for every $1 you spend. This will help inform your goal setting.

2. New Donors Goals

New donor acquisition during this quarter can be very beneficial to your nonprofit. Typically, donor acquisition is profitable in 18-24 months, meaning for every $1 you spend on donor acquisition you get a dollar back within 18-24 months. Acquiring during a time where people are feeling generous can help shorten that payoff period.

Even if you don’t have a formal donor acquisition program (you DEFINITELY need one), you should set goals for new donor acquisition this quarter. New donors are required to continue your fundraising programs. I don’t have definitive data on this, but I believe that many nonprofits are unfortunately in a downward spiral trend with their fundraising programs and they may not realize why. If they’re not measuring how many donors lapse each year, they don’t know how many donors are required to maintain and grow fundraising. Therefore, they’re not adding new donors onto the file as quickly as required. As the donor file shrinks, the remaining committed donors give more than the average, making it appear the donor file is declining but not as bad as it is.

This leads to fundraising death for the organization.

Don’t fall into this spiral. You need to start adding new donors to your donor file. Set a goal this quarter for the number of new donors you’d like to add.

3. Lead Generation Goals

In the fourth quarter of the calendar year, you will be sending a lot of email. Building a well targeted and engaged audience will results in better results for the organization. Audience growth is dependent on great lead generation. We run different lead generation programs year round, but the benefits from these programs are often seen in the end of the year fundraising.

Keep in mind that not all leads are equal. For example, a lead for a t-shirt giveaway campaign will not have the commitment that a lead generated for a 6 week video training course. Though you will often receive fewer leads for opportunities that require greater commitment, these leads often convert at a higher rate to support your organization.

How Do I Set Lead Generation Goals?

Set lead goals based on the campaigns and opportunities you’ll run this quarter. We used historical data from similar campaigns to estimate how many leads come in from a particular type of campaign. If you don’t have historical data, set an arbitrary goal until you get a good understanding of what types of campaigns result in leads.

4. Organizational Goals

Many organizations have other campaigns and annual events that must be accomplished for this time to be considered a success. I’ll label these as “Organizational Goals” for sake of a better term, but they could be any number of things you need to achieve in addition to your normal fundraising plan.

For example, perhaps you have a Turkey Trot race your organization sponsors that you need to manage. You’ll need to accomplish this goal in addition to your fundraising goals. Set a goal that is appropriate for the type of event, campaign, or other need that you’ll be managing. This could be something as simple as brand exposure or gathering leads. When you set a goal, you’ll create strategies to achieve those goals.

During the last quarter of the year, achieving your goals is crucial for your success. For many nonprofit organizations, half of your revenue arrives this quarter. Focusing on achieving these goals will help you find success.