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How to predict your fundraising revenue this year

Wouldn’t you love a crystal ball that you could gaze into to see what the future holds and find out what your fundraising revenue will be?

You’d know how to make the best choices. Which paths to take. What to say “no” to.

But, isn’t the unknown the fun of life?

My inner perfectionist says “NO!”

She wants to know what’s coming up so she can be ready for it when it happens. She likes to get things ‘right.’ (I’m trying to give up some of that ‘need to control things’ this year, but I digress.)

Sooooo, if you HAD a crystal ball, would you want to know how much money you’ll raise this year? Would you want to find out what your fundraising revenue will be?

What if I could show you how to predict it? Would that make the year look a little less daunting and maybe more fun? Or at least relieve some of your anxiety about it?

Let’s do it. 😉

Now, to be clear, you’ll still have to work. Results don’t just show up without some sweat equity and work on your part. But, I can give you an idea of what’s possible and what it will take to make it happen. Cool?

Start here to predict your fundraising revenue

Where do all good things start? With the end in mind.

Start by clearly defining your organization’s impact goal this year. What’s the BIG difference you want to make?

  • For an animal rescue, how many dogs/cats/guinea pigs do you want to save?
  • For a food bank, how many pounds of food and subsequent meals will you distribute?
  • For Habitat for Humanity, how many families will become home owners?

If your impact goal is substantial, that’s even better. It becomes a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and that’s something donors get excited about. After all, no one makes big gifts to mediocre goals. (Think about that).

A good BHAG is something that may not be accomplished this year. And maybe not next year either. It could take some time. That’s okay. Don’t get hung up on something that can be neatly put in a box and checked off the list by the end of the year. Focus on what matters – the lives your nonprofit is changing.
Here’s what a BHAG might look like:

  • For an animal rescue, you may try to take your community to No Kill status
  • For a food bank, you may want to eliminate hunger in your area
  • For Habitat for Humanity, you may want to make sure that everyone who needs simple decent affordable housing has access to it

See how big, hairy, and audacious those goals are?

Goals with zip and zing tend to raise more money than those that are ordinary and unremarkable.

Once you know what you’re working toward, then you can start with the prognosticating.

Set 3 main goals

Most folks focus on one thing in fundraising: money.

Seems obvious.

But if you’re a student of your craft, you know there are other things that are equally important, like donor retention.

Donor retention numbers are in the toilet across the board. And it’s stupid in my opinion. Be thoughtful and treat donors with a lot of respect and you won’t lose so many. The problem is that so many people are so focused on money that they forget about the donor and the relationship.

Want to keep more donors? Focus on the relationship instead of the money.

Right alongside donor retention, you need to think about donor acquisition. Where and how will you get new donors to replace the ones that are slipping away? How can you inspire them to want to pull out their wallet and make a donation?

So, there are 3 main things you should be focused on as you raise money:

  • Dollars you need to fund your work
  • The number of current donors you need to renew
  • The number of new donors you need to bring in

Set specific, measurable goals for each one of these based on historical data, and predicting success will get easier. Lay out the strategies you plan to use (direct appeals, ask events, monthly giving, etc.) and how each one will support each of these three goals, and you can come very close to predicting what your numbers will look like this year.

Sprinkle on the pixie dust

Having a plan is one thing. Making it happen is another.

I see this ALL the time with clients. The ones who are committed to their success usually reach their goals. The ones who use lots of excuses are the ones who struggle. (If you find yourself using excuses like “I don’t know any rich people” or “It’s not a good time to ask for money,” you’re going to have problems. You might want to get some help with your mindset.)

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to noodle around on to get some fresh perspective on things.

  • What fundraising activities worked well last year that you can repeat this year? Is there a way to make them even more productive?
  • What didn’t work at all and should be let go?
  • What sort of worked but has room for improvement and needs to be tweaked?
  • What fundraising activities seemed easy to do? Which ones do you personally enjoy doing?
  • What fundraising activities do you despise?
  • What could you let go of that would free up some time and energy for something even better to take its place?
  • What could you delegate to someone else (other staff person, volunteer, intern, or committee)?

The answers to these questions will give you some clues about where to spend your time this year to get the most bang for the buck. I tell my clients to only do those things that bring them the most ROI and avoid the ‘nickel and dime’ stuff.

One last thing

There’s one really important thing that will play into your success this year: Self care.

How well you take care of YOU will have a huge impact on the amount of money you raise.

True confession: If someone had told me to take care of myself 20 years ago, I would have laughed at them. These days, we all work at a much faster pace than we did back then and more is required of us. It’s not funny now – it’s serious business and a real thing to include in your plan.

Some of this is mighty simple. That’s where its power lies. If you’re tempted to brush over this, think again. Only those fundraisers who are happy and healthy will consistently reach their goals. You won’t be successful if you’re sick, exhausted, or over-committed.

Focus on taking care of yourself this year.

  • Get more rest (sleep 8 hours a night)
  • Eat a clean diet (ditch the processed and junk foods)
  • Laugh more (it’s good for you!)
  • Spend time doing things you enjoy (it recharges your batteries)
  • What else would you add? What feels like pampering to you?

Carve out time for YOU in your schedule. Don’t settle for whatever is left over after work, taking care of your family, and all the other stuff on your plate.

Make yourself a priority.

In all honesty, this is one I’m working on for myself this year. I’m already saying “no” to things this year, and I admit it’s not easy. But I’m doing it anyway, because I know I’ll be better able to support my clients and students when I’m at my best.

Look for more on this next week. I’ll be sharing some habits and routines that successful people follow and swear by.

Make your prediction real

Something one of my coaches told me once was that if I want my goals to become real, I had to tell someone. It gives you some accountability.

I’d love for you to make your prediction real by sharing your fundraising revenue goals for the year in the comments. I’ll be right here all year to root for you and cheer you on.

By | 2019-05-24T02:55:51+00:00 January 6th, 2016|Featured, Fundraising planning|2 Comments

About the Author:

Sandy shows Founders and leaders of small nonprofits how to fully fund their big vision so they can spend their time changing lives instead of worrying about money. She has helped dozens of small nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to mastering donor-based fundraising, inspiring their donors to give often and give big.   Learn how to raise the money you need to fund your new nonprofit without begging, doing without, or paying out of your own pocket.   Click here to download our free ebook Fund Your Dream.


  1. kriss January 30, 2019 at 5:39 am - Reply

    My Goal is to learn how to fundraise, and how to get it right from the Start!

    • Sandy Rees March 21, 2019 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Awesome! You’re definitely in the right place!

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