This might sound severe, but everyone in an organization needs a number on their head.

For fundraisers, this is not new territory. Our jobs are all about hitting the numbers – overall revenue, retention rates, new donors, sustainers. The list of what we measure goes on and on.

For business development people, this is not new territory. Our jobs depend on getting potential prospects in the door and closing the deal.

For others, this is completely new territory. I just had a meeting with a client where only the fundraiser in the room knew clearly what metrics she had to hit. The policy folks weren’t driving towards any clear goal or metrics. The science team wasn’t driving towards any clear goal or metrics. The education team wasn’t driving towards any clear goal or metrics.

This is all wrong and can hinder non profits for a variety of reasons.

  • First and foremost, without clear goals and metrics, what are you going to accomplish? Everything becomes a priority and nothing becomes a priority when you don’t have a clear destination.
  • Second, there may be important opportunities to engage members in non financial ways, which will displace a singular focus on monetary contributions. Non profits must put a value on those actions in order to get them prioritized. They need to budget for non fundraising activity and in order to do so, they need clear goals and metrics for evaluation.
  • Third, everyone in an organization should consider fundraising as a unified metric. Everyone is responsible — in some way shape or form — for raising money. It could be through providing scientific content. It could be through engaging activists around a hot topic/cause. It could be by building an awesome website. All of these activities drive fundraising. Everyone should know the fundraising goals and how they plug into overall fundraising success.

Without goals, we’re just dreaming about changing the world — we’re not really doing it.