May 23, 2024


Marsh Gas

Cultivating SMART Fundraising Goals

SMART is an acronym gaining remarkable popularity in the world of business which represents key features specialists generally agree must be incorporated into your goals to align yourself on a route to success. This system was introduced in 1981 when an article by George Doran (there’s a S.M.A.R.T way to write management’s goals) highlighted the need to methodically set out what you will work towards to optimize your chances of success.

This gave birth to the five part model of cultivating the best goals for projects in many industries. Although many variations have emerged explaining the SMART goals phenomenon, the ideal model for fundraising would comprise of;






Making use of this SMART model to cultivate and set goals for fundraisers and other projects facilitates the creation of effective action plans for them and also makes it easy to later evaluate success levels. Appropriate counsel and advice on the activities of fundraising especially for Non-profits, charity organizations and social business can be gotten from proper Non-profit and Fundraising Consulting.

The specifics of the SMART model for fundraising can be explained as follows;


It’s first of all very important when setting goals to clearly determine what exactly the ultimate result is to be. In the milieu of fundraising, being specific simply implies being crystal clear on financial targets and the impact that will be made on your organization when these targets are met.

Going further to answer questions of ”what” needs to be done to realize set goals? And ”who” is to benefit from the meeting of these goals? Together with ”where” and ”why” increase specificity. Clearly outlining and writing these specific goals help in avoiding distractions. Examples of specific goals for fundraising could be:

  • Gain 200 new donors
  • And raise 25% on last year’s total donations to provide food, shelter, and education for homeless exploited teens.


This feature of the SMART goal model for fundraising provides some clarification to the specific set goals answering questions of ”how much” and ”how many” so as to make them easily quantifiable. In other words, measurability can be achieved by establishing defined methods of how to know if goals are met or not such as outlining:

  • How much is to be raised
  • Who will be responsible for tracking progress
  • How to know when goals are met or not.


It’s very beneficial when fundraising goals are both ambitious and attainable. There is significant difficulty in the use of comprehension of available skill and resources to strike the ideal point between realistic and ambitious goals. It’s important to note that difficult targets most often encourage greater performances. However, always take into consideration that unrealistic and unattainable goals could lead to frustration and damage to morale which is key especially for fundraising.

Providing answers to the following questions will help any organization in the setting of attainable goals in fundraising:

  • Average donation size?
  • Funds raised in past online campaigns and events?
  • Number of donors in previous campaign?
  • Organizational resources (skill, time and money) committed to the fundraising campaign?


Succeeding to set specific, measurable and attainable goals without relevance scream incomplete and sham. It’s indisputably necessary for fundraising goals to be relevant. In this SMART goal feature, you are required to clearly establish how raising the funds and meeting set targets work for your organization’s cause. Here the main question to be responded to is ”why”?

To thoroughly check for the relevance of fund raising goals to be set, it’s vital to investigate direct relations to the missions of the organization. This can be done by stating:

  • What reaching the set goals will particularly do for your organization and its mission?
  • What direct or indirect impact will be felt highlighting the lives to be improved or even saved?
  • Does your target population directly benefit from this goal?
  • Clear connections and relationship between current organization activities and those after the realization of goals?

Clearly outlining who is benefiting from funds raised in relation to organization original missions highlight and express relevance.


Though the last of the five SMART features, it is equally as important as the others because, deadlines play a major role in making goals specific and measurable. A goal which is not time-based can be indefinitely suspended. Objectives and fundraising goals require steady start and end dates as they provide visible reference points and powerful motivation for both the fundraisers and their donors. Deadlines also should be ambitious but attainable because they are very important to the budget of organizations. Possessing campaign timelines facilitate regular checking of progress level towards goals. SMART fundraising goals should clearly outline:

  • Start date of campaign
  • End date of campaign
  • Campaign timeline with stated locations at certain important points during campaign
  • Present steps and tasks to be executed with suggestions to deal with challenges and unforeseen.

Setting, cultivating and executing SMART goals during the management of fundraising events and campaigns increase the probability of success, implying success at raising the funds needed by the organization. This five feature SMART model can be very beneficial in the guarantee of success in the management of social business fund raising and other projects as they give focus and orientation to your campaigns.