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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

17 SMART Goals For Nonprofits and How to Set Your Own

Updated: Mar 27

Thoughtful goal-setting for nonprofits is a necessity when undertaking any new project. Whether developing a strategic plan or launching a program, having the right goals ensures everyone involved stays on track.

By their very nature, nonprofits often have budgetary considerations and restraints. This means spending must be planned carefully, and setting achievable and realistic goals is crucial to ensure success.

In this guide, we’ll walk through how your nonprofit can develop SMART goals that bring inspiration and momentum to your work.

What Are SMART Goals for Nonprofits?

The best way to develop actionable goals is to use the SMART framework. This framework is a valuable tool for developing goals that make the most of your available budget, expertise, and resources:

  • Specific: State clearly what needs to be achieved, such as “we will increase donors by 10%” rather than “we will increase donors.”

  • Measurable: Ensure that you can use data and analytic tools to track progress toward the goal.

  • Achievable: Setting a goal for recruiting 10 new staff members when there is no budget (or office space) would be unrealistic. While your goal should be ambitious, it should be clear how your nonprofit plans to accomplish it.

  • Relevant: The goal should be relevant to the aims and purpose of your nonprofit.

  • Time-bound: Setting a concrete deadline gives your team a point to work toward and helps keep focus on achieving the goal.

Your nonprofit can apply this framework to any initiative or area of operations, from marketing to staff retention. 

17 Examples of Nonprofit SMART Goals

Here are 17 examples of nonprofit SMART goals that you can adapt for your organization:

1. Acquire New Donors

Specific: Increase our donor base by 30% over the next 12 months by improving our donation page experience and providing more secure payment processing.

Measurable: We’ll track the number of donation page conversions to determine the effectiveness of improvements. 

Achievable: Based on our donation page’s current state, it should be possible to accomplish this goal with the right improvements.

Relevant: Attracting new donors is key to the long-term success of our nonprofit.

Time-bound: We’ve established a timeframe of 12 months. Providing a concrete timeframe makes planning easier and provides an end date to work toward.

2. Expand Social Media Followers

Specific: Increase our total number of social media followers by 25% within the next six months by implementing targeted content strategies, engaging with commenters daily, and working with influencers and other relevant organizations in the sector.

Measurable: We can track and monitor follower numbers using analytics tools.

Achievable: We’ve laid out clear, reasonable steps to achieving this goal.

Relevant: One of the best ways to bring in new donors is to increase awareness of our nonprofit’s work. We can do this through social media, where we can reach a wider audience.

Time-bound: The goal has a timeframe of six months.

3. Boost Email Sign-Ups

Specific: Increase our number of email sign-ups by 35% over the next six months by creating high-quality resources, using email marketing tools to manage campaigns, and promoting email subscriptions across all social media channels.

Measurable: We’ll use analytics tools to track and monitor the number of sign-ups.

Achievable: Aiming to increase email sign-ups by 35% over six months is an achievable target.

Relevant: Growing email sign-ups is an important means of promoting our nonprofit and encouraging regular donations.

Time-bound: The goal has a six-month deadline to achieve the 35% increase in email sign-ups. 

4. Increase Website Traffic

Specific: Increase website traffic by 30% within the next 12 months by using SEO best practices and Google ads to improve organic search rankings.

Measurable: We’ll use Google Analytics to track monthly website traffic. This tool can set up specific metrics to measure traffic sources, such as organic searches or social media referrals.

Achievable: This goal is feasible through the methods we’ve outlined.

Relevant: Increasing website traffic is essential for our nonprofit to raise awareness about its cause and achieve its mission more effectively by reaching a wider audience.

Time-bound: The goal has a timeframe of 12 months.

5. Recruit More Volunteers

Specific: Increase our number of active volunteers by 40% within the next two years.

Measurable: We’ll use volunteer management software to monitor volunteer engagement, hours contributed, and retention rates.

Achievable: We can achieve this goal through recruitment strategies such as targeted social media outreach, email campaigns, and community events.

Relevant: Volunteer recruitment is crucial for our nonprofit to enhance its capacity to deliver programs and services, reach more beneficiaries, and achieve its mission effectively.

Time-bound: This goal has a clear deadline of two years.

6. Secure Corporate Sponsorships

Specific: Secure a new corporate sponsorship within the next 12 months by leveraging board member networks for introductions and focusing on local businesses with a similar mission.

Measurable: We’ll keep track of the number of corporate sponsorship proposals sent out and the responses received through our CRM.

Achievable: Based on our initial research of board member connections and local businesses, this goal is feasible for our nonprofit.

Relevant: Securing corporate sponsorships is essential for our nonprofit to diversify funding sources and support our programs.

Time-bound: This goal sets a clear deadline of 12 months.

7. Enhance Reputation

Specific: Improve our nonprofit’s reputation by increasing positive media coverage and stakeholder perceptions within the next 12 months.

Measurable: We’ll track media mentions, social media sentiments, and stakeholder feedback to measure changes in reputation over time.

Achievable: It’s possible to accomplish this goal by refining our communications strategy and engaging with stakeholders.

Relevant: Enhancing our nonprofit’s reputation is essential for building trust and attracting more support for our mission.

Time-bound: There is a clear deadline of 12 months.

8. Launch a New Program

Specific: Successfully launch a new program to provide educational support to underprivileged youth in the community within the next six months.

Measurable: We’ll have specific targets for program implementation, such as enrolling a minimum of 50 youth participants or securing funding of $20,000 to support program activities.

Achievable: This goal is feasible based on our program implementation plan.

Relevant: As an education-focused nonprofit, a program of this nature would align with our overall goals.

Time-bound: There is a deadline of six months to complete all the necessary preparations.

9. Provide Staff Training

Specific: Develop and implement a comprehensive staff training program to enhance employee skills and knowledge in fundraising techniques within the next nine months.

Measurable: We’ll measure the effectiveness of the training program by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and conducting post-training assessments.

Achievable: We can accomplish this goal by designing a training curriculum that covers essential topics and allocating sufficient time and resources to develop the training program.

Relevant: Providing staff training is essential for building our nonprofit’s capacity to generate financial support, sustain its programs and services, and advance its mission. 

Time-bound: The goal has a timeframe of nine months.

10. Improve Internal Communications

Specific: Improve internal communications by leveraging more nonprofit collaboration and project management tools by the end of the year.

Measurable: We’ll track the adoption and usage of the new tools through user activity metrics and conduct staff surveys to identify whether we’ve improved.

Achievable: This goal is feasible given the free and low-cost nonprofit collaboration and project management tools options available.

Relevant: Improving internal communications is essential for enhancing our organization’s teamwork, productivity, and efficiency.

Time-bound: We’ve set a deadline of the end of the year.

11. Win More Grants

Specific: Increase grant funding for our nonprofit by applying to at least six grant opportunities within the next 12 months and securing funding from at least two new grants.

Measurable: We’ll track progress toward the goal by monitoring the number of grant applications submitted and the total grant funding secured. 

Achievable: Based on the time, resources, and expertise we have available, it’s possible for us to meet this goal.

Relevant: Increasing grant funding is crucial for our nonprofit to run its programs, expand its impact, and fulfill its mission.

Time-bound: There is a deadline of 12 months.

12. Re-allocate Resources

Specific: Review current resource allocation practices and identify opportunities to reallocate resources more effectively to support strategic priorities within the next six months.

Measurable: We’ll measure the impact of resource reallocation by tracking changes in budget allocations, program outcomes, and other KPIs.

Achievable: Given our current resources, this goal is achievable.

Relevant: Reallocating resources ensures that our nonprofit focuses its time, energy, and funds on the areas that are most important to our mission.

Time-bound: The goal has a deadline of six months.

13. Implement New Event Technology

Specific: Implement and integrate event software to streamline the planning and execution of fundraising events within the next four months.

Measurable: We’ll measure the impact of the event management software by tracking KPIs such as event attendance, revenue generated, volunteer engagement, and attendee satisfaction.

Achievable: With thorough research and planning, this goal is feasible.

Relevant: Adopting event management software is essential for streamlining event planning processes, increasing operational efficiency, and maximizing the impact of fundraising events.

Time-bound: The goal has a deadline of four months.

14. Improve Board Governance

Specific: Enhance board governance by implementing a board development plan that includes training and performance evaluations within the next 12 months.

Measurable: We’ll measure the effectiveness of the board development plan by tracking KPIs such as board member participation in training and improvements in board meeting attendance and engagement.

Achievable: We can accomplish this plan by following our board development plan.

Relevant: Improving board governance is critical for enhancing organizational effectiveness, accountability, and sustainability.

Time-bound: There is a deadline of 12 months.

15. Develop Membership Program

Specific: Launch a new membership program and develop an engaging online platform using a membership website builder within the next six months.

Measurable: We’ll track member acquisition and engagement using our membership software.

Achievable: We can accomplish this goal by researching a suitable membership website builder that meets our needs, budget, and technical requirements.

Relevant: Developing a membership program is essential for expanding our nonprofit’s support base and generating sustainable revenue streams. 

Time-bound: We’ve set a deadline of six months.

16. Influence Local Policy Change

Specific: Advocate for the passage of a new local ordinance promoting environmentally friendly practices within the next 12 months.

Measurable: We’ll monitor the progress of the advocacy campaign by tracking key milestones.

Achievable: Based on our planned advocacy activities, this goal is achievable.

Relevant: Promoting environmentally friendly policies aligns with our nonprofit’s mission and values, broader sustainability goals, and community well-being.

Time-bound: There is a deadline of 12 months to achieve this goal.

17. Plan a Successful Event

Specific: Plan and execute a fundraising gala event to raise $50,000 for our organization’s community outreach programs within the next eight months.

Measurable: We’ll track progress toward the fundraising goal by monitoring ticket sales, sponsorships secured, and donations received.

Achievable: We’ve developed an event plan that sets out key components, including venue selection, event theme, marketing, ticket sales strategy, volunteer recruitment, and logistics coordination.

Relevant: Hosting a successful fundraising gala is critical for our nonprofit to generate financial support for its community outreach programs.

Time-bound: We’ve set a deadline of eight months.

How To Set SMART Goals

To set your own nonprofit SMART goals, consider these essential tips:

  • Assess your current performance: Before setting SMART goals, be realistic about resources, staffing, and financial standing. You want to set goals that are ambitious but not too challenging to accomplish.

  • Collect stakeholder input: What are stakeholders asking for? What are their main concerns? Which services and resources do they access most frequently? Understanding stakeholder interests and needs will inform your goal-setting.

  • Tie each goal to your overall mission: Make sure that the goals you set will further your nonprofit’s overall mission. Doing so ensures that you put your time, resources, and energy to good use.

At the same time, it’s essential to be flexible and make adjustments as needed.

Setting relevant and achievable SMART goals for nonprofits is key to successfully implementing projects and programs. Good goal-setting can keep your nonprofit focused and help you achieve your mission objectives. Be sure to have specific metrics that you can track to monitor your progress and refine your strategy as needed. In doing so, you can set your nonprofit up for greater success in the future.

Check out these downloadable guidebooks and activity sheets to help you brainstorm on a variety of topics!

If you are interested in learning more about goal-setting and planning, check out this upcoming workshop:

Program Planning & Scaling: How to Build, Scale & Manage Programs to Reach Your Goals

Learn more and register here!


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