Is your fundraising campaign focused on getting results?  It may sound like an obvious question but many organizations don't approach fundraising campaigns with clear, concrete goals. Without defined goals, it's pretty tough to know if you're actually succeeding. 

Set a Fundraising Goal

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Setting a fundraising goal is important because it helps to ensure that you and your colleagues are on the same page with the desired results of a fundraising campaign. Keeping track of where you are in terms of meeting your goal can give you the information you need to adjust your fundraising strategy or improve your outreach. As you make progress toward your goal, you can use progress indicators (like fundraising thermometers or tickers) to motivate donors to give—if they see others are giving or if they see that you are well on your way to meeting your goal, they will be more likely to give as well.

Now is the time to define what results you and your organization want to achieve. Keep these key pointers in mind:

Set a specific goal for your fundraising campaign. 

Before you finalize your plans, know whether your overall goal is to add a specific number of new donors or to reach a certain donation level. Have a clear and measurable end result in mind. Decide how you will define success, such as "Raise $20,000," or "Add 200 new members."

Check that your goals pass the SMART test.

Remember: Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. For a year-end fundraising campaign, the last one is already covered—typically the year-end campaign window is from Thanksgiving through December 31.

Segmentation is the key to engagement. 

Some audiences are likely more important than others within the context of your campaign. Do you need your current supporters to mobilize and become fundraisers for you? Think about your goals and who holds the key to your success. Lack of participation from primary groups can cause your campaign to falter or fail.

If you're having trouble clearly defining your goal, ask yourself these questions:

What are you trying to accomplish? Picture what your ideal end result will be.

Who are you trying to reach? Decide on your key audiences before planning your campaign.

What do I want them to do? Have a clear call to action for your supporters. Will they be asked to donate a specific amount or pledge a recurring gift? Make sure this is baked into your planning and communications.

What is the best way to reach my audience? Once you've identified your audience and calls to action, think about the best way to reach and activate your supporters.

Once you've established a clear goal, you're on a course for fundraising success!

Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 19, 2012 and has been updated.