Target setting: evidence, experience, and communication

By March 26, 2018 April 4th, 2018 Giving & Philanthropy

For some of us, this time of year marks the approaching end of the financial year and a time to review KPIs and targets ready for the coming year. I recently chatted with a colleague about the challenging subject of setting fundraising targets. It can be a tricky thing to get right; you want a motivating goal to stretch your fundraisers, but you also want one that is based on what can be realistically achieved and aims to bring the right level of funds to meet the needs of your wider cause or campaign. As I said, it’s tricky.

The Importance of Getting it Right

Whilst I believe targets are certainly important, they can be dangerous if they are incorrect, demotivating your fundraiser, exerting unrealistic expectations and pressure which can lead to stress, underperformance, and unhappiness in the workplace, inevitably impacting your donors.

Now organisations approach how they set targets in different ways. And whilst this isn’t really going in to detail about the best methods (perhaps another time for that), I share three words on target setting: Evidence, Experience, and Communication.

Consider the Evidence, Review the Experience

I would always advocate that the first thing to do is look at your database to help inform your goals and give you the evidence on what can be realistically achieved. Second, talk to your fundraisers – ask them to analyse their own pools to give you some ‘on the ground’ experience of what can be accomplished.

Communication is Key

However, you want to set targets, so the most important thing I would strongly advise you do is to communicate how and why you have come to those goals with your fundraisers. Allow your staff to see the data and process by which their fundraising goals have been decided. This will allow them to understand; where the numbers of come from, why you think this is the appropriate target to aim for, and how you think it will be achievable.

What’s the Big Deal?

Because when a target number is simply thrown at you and you have no idea how it was formed, whether it was even based on evidence from your potential prospects, as a fundraiser you feel shut out, ignored, and deeply frustrated.  You feel like your managers are not listening to you or taking in to account your experience and knowledge. If the target is wildly out of the realms of possibility, you could begin to think “what’s the point?” Never a good feeling to have, whatever your job, and the exact opposite of what you were aiming for.

But if they understand where you are coming from and have the opportunity to communicate their concerns or thoughts, they feel a part of this process, in some way involved in the goal set for them. Plus, we all feel more motivated to make something a success when we feel invested in it ourselves.

Collaboration and Communication = Engaged and Motivated Fundraisers

Achievable stretch targets that are based on actual data and the experience of the fundraiser can be a great tool to help drive staff forward to succeed and even surpass their goals. But take the collaborative approach. Communicating how you have reached these goals and even involving your fundraising staff in the process will go a long way in helping to motivate people from the get-go.

Rachael Magee is a Consultant at Graham-Pelton. Contact Rachael directly via email or by calling +44 (0)207 060 2622.

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