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Why School Fundraisers Fail - Because They Don't Set Goals

By Clay Boggess on Jan 30, 2021
Why School Fundraisers Fail - Because They Don't Set Goals

Get SMART about your fundraising

It’s a great feeling to exceed any goal you set for your school fundraiser. And it’s also disappointing when you haven’t met the dollar amount you need to raise. So, how can you ensure your next campaign will perform with flying colors? Continued fundraising success doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning and SMART goals to keep your campaigns from failing.

So, what does SMART mean?

A concept devised in 1981 for establishing strong business objectives, SMART goals have been used by corporations, schools and non-profits alike. It’s an excellent method to create a clear vision of a given outcome, provide a sense of direction, and maintain momentum.

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based. They’re the 5 key components of goal setting that helps you focus your efforts and make sure your next and future campaigns succeed.

Let’s take a look at each element as it relates to your school fundraisers:


Goals with clear-cut objectives let everyone know what needs to happen and who is accountable. When fundraising, it typically means being clear about the amount of money you’ll raise as a group and what amount each person should be responsible for raising.

Here’s an example of a specific goal: The Band Boosters have pledged to raise $10,000 to purchase new band uniforms because the old uniforms are beyond repair.

Once the overall monetary goal is set, you can set individual goals for each student or group member.


Measuring your progress will help keep your fundraising campaign on track. You’ll know exactly where your group is in relation to the goal and how far along each member is in their progress.

We offer a few ideas for how best to track your progress.


Your goals also must be attainable—even if they seem like a challenge. Let’s use the example above. $10,000 seems like a lot of money for a small group to raise. And while it will be challenging, it’s a clearly defined goal that can be broken down into smaller steps. Keeping the goal manageable will ensure that it’s achievable and will have a successful outcome.


For a goal to truly succeed, it should be important to the members of the group. If the band members and their families in the above example were asked to raise money for library computers, they may not be as motivated to work hard attain the goal. A goal that has their interests at heart (new uniforms) gives them a sense of purpose and can foster a feeling that “we’re all in this together.”


Lastly, a goal must have a concrete deadline. Without a specific timeframe, the goal efforts can linger indefinitely and motivation eventually fizzles out. A deadline keeps everyone in the group on task, with their eyes on a successful campaign.

Keep your fundraising goals SMART and you’ll be well on your way to success.

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