What Were Your Nonprofit’s Goals for the Past Year?

Making Your Nonprofit's GoalsIt’s approaching year-end. I hope by now your annual appeal plan is in place and your initial letters and emails are seeing results. Now is a good time to review the past year. You will not have all your data yet and know whether you reached all of your goals. That can be assessed in January. Now is the time to consider the larger picture, like what were your nonprofit’s goals for the past year?


What were your priorities? Were you working to increase the total number of donors or working on upgrading the $50 and under gifts? Did you have a plan to increase the number of members or make more stewardship touches each month? Was there a plan to have more board members involved in your fundraising effort or to reassess your board manual? Each nonprofit has a unique set of circumstances, but no nonprofit organization (or even for-profit) can afford to stand still year after year.

****If none of this applies to you because you didn’t set out goals for this year, don’t worry. Well, maybe you should worry a bit, but only to use that worry to push you into action. Next year is another opportunity to make an impact through a detailed, goal-oriented development plan.


Did you have a plan to achieve your goals? Did you make it through all the steps in your plan?
• If you did, what were the results? Be honest. Did you really contact 10 additional donors each month? Did those additional touches impact their giving? Or strengthen their feelings about the organization? Did they start to come to new events? In other words, qualitatively or quantitatively, what were the results?
• If you did not have a plan or did not make it through enough steps to make an impact, what prevented your success. Did you lack financial resources, time, staff/board buy-in, or even that you never made it your priority. Be brutally honest.
• If you don’t know how to assess your results, your plan was not well defined. While some efforts don’t show direct ROI, there should be measurements of success in every aspect of your plan.


Now it’s time to consider next year’s priorities. Pick a new goal or two (or revise an old one) and create a detailed plan. How can you achieve these goals? Who will you need to help you succeed? How will you assess your results next year? How will you overcome the anticipated, or unanticipated, resistance?

If you are not sure where to start, consider an organizational assessment. We offer an Organization and Development Assessment where we review and offer suggestions (click here for details).

Of course, you can assess your own organization. Just make sure you don’t avoid what makes you, the board or the staff uncomfortable. Accuracy and honesty will be essential in developing a usable plan. And a solid, usable plan will help your nonprofit raise more money, strengthen its board, or reorganize your staffing structure.

Just make sure there is a plan, so you are not looking back on 2018 and wondering why you didn’t achieve your goals.