Even if you’re not a big Lord of the Rings fan, you still may recognize the key phrase “One ring to rule them all” from the epic movie and book trilogy.

But what you might not recognize is this: Hidden in that one line is a simple yet critical key to making this year a very successful one for raising money.

What is it?

It’s a simple thing, really.

impact goalIn the movie, everyone was focused on ONE thing – destroying the ring.

They had a goal. They made a plan. They recruited a committee. Okay, not really a committee, but a fellowship to carry out the plan.

Then they set off on their journey.

And no matter what happened along the way, no matter what monsters they faced, they kept going, never giving up.

Can you see yet the key to your success?

Here it is: They had a driving force.

Call it a goal. Call it a purpose.

It was ONE thing that they measured everything else by.

It kept them from getting distracted by other things. (Oh, there was plenty along their way to distract them.)

It kept them focused when things got hard or when they got tired or hungry.

They knew they had to accomplish their task, so they fully committed to doing it.

Of course, it was life or death for them. Not so much for you, but still, there’s a very important lesson here.

How Shiny Ball Syndrome Kills Fundraising

impact goalYou see, the common mistake that’s made in fundraising is what I call Shiny Ball Syndrome.

You start down one path and then some fancy new thing comes along and you decide it will be the key to your success, so you switch lanes and start chasing the new thing… Until another shiny new ball shows up, and again, you decide IT will save you, so you start chasing it.

In everyday life, it looks like this:

  • A new social media platform pops up and it’s all the rage, so you think you need to have a presence on it. You spend a lot of time building a following, but you have no strategy for monetizing it. All the while you’re playing with the new social media tool, your other stuff isn’t getting done.
  • The nonprofit down the street has a very successful, hot new fundraiser, and you decide you can do it, too. So you drop everything and start trying to figure out how to pull it off.  Remember the ice bucket challenge? Yeah, that.
  • A volunteer or Board member hears about something their Aunt’s neighbor’s cousin did to raise money and it sounds good so they think it will work for your nonprofit, too. You’re too nice to say “no” so you add it to your plate thinking “Who knows? It might just work.”

It makes me tired just thinking about it all.

These, friends, are distractions.

What you really need is a Beacon to guide you through your journey. A light to always point the way.

What you need is an Impact Goal.

Set an Impact Goal

An Impact Goal focuses you on the impact you want your nonprofit to make this year. It’s a quantifiable difference your organization’s leaders agree on and everyone moves toward it together.

For example,

  • An animal rescue group might shoot to increase the number of animals they save by 25%.
  • A food bank might work to add another 100,000 meals served.
  • A Habitat for Humanity affiliate might try to eliminate their waiting list.
  • CASA might try to double the number of CASA volunteers it has so more children can be protected in court.

See how that works?

It’s a specific, measurable goal that has some zing to it. It’s something your organization and your supporters can get behind.

And it’ll guide everything you do.

If your Impact Goal is to increase services by 25%, then everything you do needs to move you toward that goal. If an activity doesn’t help you increase services, then don’t do it. Simple as that.

Your Impact Goal will help determine what goes into your fundraising plan, what you do every day, and what you give your attention to.

Your Impact Goal is like the One Ring – it rules everything else you do.

Your entire fundraising plan should support your Impact Goal and provide the funding to make it happen.

Your One Ring

Just like the One Ring, your Impact Goal can give you a focus to your journey.

Stop driving yourself crazy trying to do every new thing that comes along.

Instead, choose only those things that move you forward toward your Impact Goal.

Your fortune is in the focus.

Check out this video where I explain more about Impact Goals.

Impact Goal