Some people love setting goals. I know this, as I’m one of those people! The thing I love about it is that I know I’m getting closer to my goals even when I don’t achieve them. Every step forward gets me closer to achieving what I want to achieve in the end, and that progress keeps me motivated and engaged.
Today I want to talk about the goals you have for your nonprofit, specifically your goals around acquisition. I’m focusing on acquisition because achieving your acquisition goals will help your organization grow to be more sustainable and have a bigger impact. That means you’ll be able to do more good and be better equipped to carry out your mission. And isn’t that the, dare I say it, goal?
Not sure where to start when it comes to acquisition goal setting? The good news is that there really isn’t a “wrong” goal to set. Your goals could be to increase the number of donors acquired, see an improvement in your return on investment, see increased net revenue, or grow your acquisition audience. The key is to look at your data and see which metrics you want to improve. You’ll want to choose ones that will most significantly impact the overall health of your nonprofit.
On that note, where do you start when it comes to acquisition goal setting? To show you how you can make acquisition goal setting a breeze, I’ll focus on three things: timing, defining, and measuring.
Timing: Set your goals early.
The best time to set your acquisition goals is as early as possible. Ideally, you should do this before you make any decisions around your acquisition strategy. That way, each and every decision you make will be in service of the goals your organization is trying to achieve.
Tip: When setting your goals, be sure to get all decision makers on board. In this case, that means making sure there’s consensus about what your goals are so there’s no question about what you and your team should be working on when it comes to acquiring new donors.
Having everyone aligned from the beginning will save you time (and headaches) in the future, trust me.
Defining: Define what success looks like, as well as any other desired outcomes.
Once you’ve determined your goals, there are two things that you need to define.
1. What does success look like for your acquisition campaign?
Success for one organization may look like acquiring 200 new donors. For another, the nonprofit may want to improve their cost per dollar raised (CP$R). Look at the areas in which your nonprofit wants to be successful and clearly define what success would look like. I’ll say that again: Be very, very clear about what you’re trying to do. When you know what success looks like before you begin planning and implementing your campaign, you’ll know which decisions will better position you to achieve your goals.
For example, the nonprofit that wants to acquire 200 new donors might have to spend more money up front to achieve that benchmark of success. On the other hand, the nonprofit that wants to lower their CP$R might need to cut back on expenses.
Tip: As was the case with setting your goals, you should make sure that everyone agrees on what success looks like.
2. Are there any additional desired outcomes?
Is there anything else you want to do during this campaign? If so, now is the time to define it. For one organization, a desired outcome might be to test a new creative package against their control package to see which one converts the most donors. For another, it may be to test a new audience segment to see if the audience is responsive to certain appeals.
Measuring: Figure out what you need to measure.
After you know what success looks like, you need to figure out which metrics you have to measure in order to determine if your campaign is successful.
For example, one organization may want to focus on average gift size, as they’re trying to increase their revenue. Another may want to track more information around response rate as they grow their program. These organizations should focus on the metrics that show how they’re progressing toward those goals. This might look like comparing the average gift size to the amount donors gave the previous year or looking to see an improvement in response rate to certain appeals.
Tip: This should come as no surprise, but once again we recommend getting everyone on the same page. You don’t want to assume that your boss or board members know which metrics are the most important, and you especially don’t want them focusing on metrics that have nothing or very little to do with your goals.
Budgeting: What is your budget for this campaign?
If you’re still stuck, here’s an even quicker way for acquisition goal setting that will work for most organizations: Start with your budget and then pick two more goals.
Not only will your acquisition campaign budget help you manage the internal and external components of the project, but it will also give you an idea of whether or not you were successful when the campaign is over.
As for those two goals I mentioned, I recommend focusing on at least two of the following:
- the estimated revenue you want to receive
- the average donation amount you hope to get
- the number of new donors you hope to acquire
- the cost per new donor you’re willing to spend
Finally, it’s important for you, your boss, and any other stakeholders and decision makers to understand that acquisition is an investment. You should also keep in mind that most nonprofits don’t make money in the acquisition stage.
However, the long-term value of the donors you gain and other metrics like those listed here can help you determine what success in acquisition looks like for your organization.
Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.