Mission-Driven Goals

July 12, 2017



Written By: Lora

By Lora Dow

If you’re part of an established nonprofit, faith-based organization, or school, you’re very familiar with fundraising goals. If you’re part of the leadership of such an organization, you may have even been part of setting those goals.

How’d you do it?

If I had to guess, I suspect you probably took a look at your giving trends for the past year or two. You may have considered your budget shortfalls and predicted growth in expenses for the coming year. You even might have looked at the giving to similar organizations in your city or region.

If I had to guess what happened next, you probably named a fundraising goal that was a few percentage points higher than what you raised last year. From there, you’ll look for more donors and more upgraded gifts to meet the incremental growth in that new goal.

What if you asked some different questions before you set your goal?

Who still needs help? What areas remain underserved?

Where could we change the game?

What does our mission call us to do? How does it challenge us to grow?

If our mission were to be fulfilled, what would we need to do differently? What resources would we need to get there?

These questions aren’t comfortable. They may cause some heated debates at a board meeting, and probably in the meeting-after-the-meeting in the parking lot. (Because we all know those happen.)

Your goals may have to change radically. But so may the inspiration driving all of you toward that goal.

Instead of focusing on 5% more than next year – or any dollar amount for that matter – you’ll be laser-focused on the change you want to make. Whether you’re sharing the Word, encouraging young artists, tackling debilitating diseases, or housing the homeless, your campaign is about your mission, not about raising a little more money to balance your budget.

That’s energizing for both volunteers and donors. It changes the conversation among your leaders, encouraging them to both ask challenging questions and offer inspiring visions for the future. “Big L” Leaders love big ideas that solve big problems.

So when it’s time to set your next goal, consider what your mission calls you to do. Discuss as a team the gap between what you’re able to do today and what you want to do ten or twenty years from now, not just two quarters into the next fiscal year. Together, you can set mission-driven goals that will change the conversation for your organization for years to come.


Hat tip to Paul McEntire, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Houston, for the discussion that inspired this blog.

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