Set SMART Goals for Your Nonprofit Organization


Can you believe we’re already a month into the new year? February is the optimum time to reflect on your organization’s current progress before the year gets too far ahead of us. Just like countless individuals who set New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, save more, get organized or watch less TV, so can organizations set (and keep!) annual resolutions to achieve success.

  • Did your non-profit set goals for this year?

  • If so, how are they going?

  • Do you feel it is necessary to revise any of your goals?

These are questions you and your organization should be asking yourselves to maintain healthy growth throughout the remainder of the year. Just because January 1st is over, does not mean that it is too late to shape your goals for 2017. You still have plenty of time!

To support your brainstorming efforts, try using these five S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting tips:


Your goals need to be detailed and precise. You can be specific by answering the five W’s:

  • Who are the key players involved in obtaining the goal? (Executive Director, Fundraising Director, Volunteer Coordinator)

  • What are the intentions of the goal? (Raise money, increase awareness, engage the community)

  • When do specific measures need to happen in order to reach the goal? (Immediate deadlines, long-term time frame)

  • Where will this be located? (Geographical and logistical aspects)

  • Why will obtaining this goal help your organization? (Growth, financial stability)

Example of a specific goal: “Separate the financial duties of the Executive Director and Administrative Assistant over the next six months to strengthen our office’s internal controls, which will prevent fraud and ensure long-term stability.”


You need to establish a metric to benchmark your progress. This will help keep you on track and provide solid data on your success.

  • How much? (Money, food, clothes)

  • How many? (People, volunteers, events)

  • How will I know when I have reached my goal?

Example of a measurable goal: “Gain 200 new followers on Twitter by March 15.”


Goals have to be viable and possible to obtain. The goals you set should drive your organization to be ambitious, while still being realistic. And remember, every organization is different – a goal that’s easily achievable for a large organization might not currently be possible for you. Know your limits.

  • In what ways can you accomplish the goal?

Example of an achievable goal: “Collect $15,000 in new corporate donations over the next three months.” OR “Collect $1,000 in individual contributions over the next six months.”


The goal needs to complement your organization’s vision and mission statement.

  • How does the goal align with your organization’s overall strategy?

Example of a relevant goal: “Raise $20,000 to purchase a cargo van, which will allow us to transport donations of large furniture items to our youth shelter.”


Your goals should have a beginning and an end. If you have a long-term goal, you can still break it down into clearly defined periods of time.

  • Understand the time it will take to reach your goal.

Example of a timely goal: “Fundraise $10,000 by December 31 to pay for the design and launch of a new website in the first quarter of next year.”

There is still plenty of time left in 2017 for your nonprofit organization to set and conquer new goals. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. We encourage you to sit down with your team to discuss how your organization can be the most successful this year.