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What Do You Do When You Don’t Reach A Fundraising Goal?

Here are some ways you can gracefully overcome the obstacle of a hard deadline and unmet an fundraising goal.
mised fundraising goals

Finishing a major fundraising campaign without hitting your target is never easy. Here are some ways you can gracefully overcome the obstacle of a hard deadline and an unmet fundraising goal.

We asked around the nonprofit community for some of the best advice on how to overcome an unreached #GivingTuesday campaign goal. Giving Tuesday is one of the most high-pressure days of the year for many nonprofits. You have a hard deadline and sometimes very ambitious goals.

What do you do when you don’t meet your fundraising goal for a campaign like Giving Tuesday?

Celebrate Your Success Anyway

First, make sure you send emails to all your donors, stakeholders, board members, and anyone else who might care about the outcome of your campaign. Let them know what went right, where it fell short, and how you plan to improve next time.

Explain how your goals were ambitious and why. What is your mission? What drove you to set that goal in the first place? Consider writing something like:

Hi <<Contact Name>>,

Thank you for supporting our ____ campaign this year! We are so thankful for all the donations and general support for our mission to ____.

We ended up receiving ___! Our goal was ___, but what we received will go toward our plans to ___, ___, and ___. It might take us a little longer to get there, but we learned a lot from our efforts this time around. The next fundraising campaign will be even better.

You can still help support our goal to ____ by giving to our general fund or sharing our cause with your network. Invite your friends to like our Facebook Page, or send them the link to our email list sign-up form.

You might even consider elaborating on why your fundraising goals were so ambitious. Why is it important that you’re able to reach those specific goals? What impact will it have?

Extend Your Campaign

If it’s possible, extend your campaign and start a whole new marketing strategy to get the word out. Don’t give up! If you go this route, make sure you use a strong email campaign strategy, social media schedule, and don’t be afraid to use a little of your budget on paid ads.

Investing in your cause helps you generate many more donations than you would otherwise. You can even use targeting to find people like those who already give to your cause. A lookalike audience is more likely to care about the same things as your existing audience.

Try to improve on your initial email strategy. Did you email too much? Too little? Use segmentation to target those who haven’t given. In these emails, you can also use donor testimonials to create social proof. Consider sending your donors an email, too. Encourage them to share their donation with their friends to bring in a new audience.

When you extend the campaign make sure your tone is upbeat and excited in the messaging. Celebrate the success you’ve already had and invite your donors to help you spread the word. Ask them to challenge their friends to give, too. Try messaging like:

  • Oops, we missed our deadline. Will you help us reach our goal to hit $__ by __?
  • Thanks for helping us get __% of the way to our [campaign] goal! We’re extending our deadline so the word can spread. Will you help us out by sharing it with your friends?
  • Our donors are so amazing and we believe so much in our cause, that we’re extending our [campaign] until ___. Help us reach our goal before it’s too late!

Search for a Donor Match

Rather than extending your campaign, another option is to launch a donor match search. Ask your donors to help you find someone to match what they’ve already given. You can combine an email campaign to your donor base with a social media campaign targeted toward marketers of local companies.

In your email, try writing something like:

Hi <<Contact Name>>,

Thank you so much for giving to our ___ campaign. We were able to reach ___ out of our ___ goal, which is pretty fantastic. But you can help us get closer!

We’re searching for a business to match what you’ve helped us raise. Can you do us one last favor and help us find one?

We’re counting you! Your support means the word to our organization.

Finding a donor match is one of the best options if you got about halfway to your goal. If you can find a donor to match what you’ve made then you’ll hit the mark with a single donation.

Stay Positive

Most importantly, stay positive. Don’t use guilt unless your organization has an extremely humorous voice on a regular basis. Try not to sound defeated or ungrateful. Donors just want to feel appreciated. And even those in your audience who didn’t give, don’t want to be bothered about it.

What’s your best tip for overcoming an unmet fundraising goal? Tell us in the comments.


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