Should You Mention Your Goal Amount?

Goal Amount.

Here’s a great question from a smart Fundraiser (and Free Review Friday watcher) named Jeff:

“I had a quick question: Is there an advantage to mentioning the overall goal in an Appeal? Yes, our offer may be $25 a week to help a kid in need, but what about telling our donors our overall appeal goal is $50,000? Have you found an advantage in telling this larger goal, or can it actually decrease giving from some donors?”

And here’s my answer:

Yes, I think it’s a good idea to mention the goal in the appeal.

However, what’s more important is to include multiple other reasons for the donor to give a gift today.

For instance, if you have five kids who are coming into your program next week, I’d mention that before I’d mention the goal.

Here’s why…

Your goal has far more meaning to internal audiences than it does to external audiences.

Insiders and stakeholders love mentioning goals because they know exactly what the goal means. They know the context, they know the scale of the amount, and they know how important it is.

But I’d wager that more than 95% of your donors don’t know if a particular amount is a lot or a little for your organization.

Note: there are times where a massive goal can get your donors’ attention and help motivate them to give. But those situations are outliers, in my experience.

Most of the time, your goal – by itself – is just not much of a motivator for your donors.

Give Your Goal Meaning

When mentioning a goal, I try to give it a meaning that a donor would value.

Here’s an example I gave Jeff: “We need to raise $50,000” is a LOT less impactful than “I need to raise $50,000 so that every child who comes to us can be welcomed, witnessed to, and see the love of Christ in action.”

In that example, I’ve turned a number with little meaning into a number that has a lot of meaning for Jeff’s donors.

The Context is More Important than the Amount

Here’s a data-driven finding that brings this whole idea home…

When an organization has a shortfall, the fact that they have a shortfall is more effective at getting donors to respond than the size of the shortfall.

That tells you something important: the context around an amount is more important than the amount itself.

So next time you have a goal, mention it!

  • A goal can be helpful, but you sure don’t need one (or need to mention one) to be successful.
  • What’s more important is to include multiple reasons to give today that have meaning to your donors.

Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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