Is announcing your goal killing your fundraising?

Picture of the word 'goal' in a dictionaryFundraising is a funny thing. When combined with casting a vision, telling people how much you're trying to raise can be a powerful motivator.

But could announcing your goal kill your ability to raise funds?

Neuroscience and goal setting

Watch this 3 minute video by Derek Sivers.

If you don't see the video above, you can link to it here

In just three minutes, Derek reviews 90 years of research that indicates:

"Telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen." - Derek Sivers

Talking about your goal makes your brain think you've achieved it

In classic capital campaigns, you aren't supposed to publicly announce your goal until you're 60% - 75% of the way there.

Have you been part of a campaign or fund drive that didn't hit its goal? Maybe the reason you failed was that your committee got the "rush" of accomplishing the goal just by talking about it.

If this sounds like you, here are three things you can do:

  • Stop having a singular focus on your fundraising goal
    Expand your focus and discussion to include things like setting up appointments and making asks.

  • Keep connecting your team with the mission
    If talking about the monetary goal lessens the chance of accomplishing it, get the solicitors on tours or quick meetings with the people being helped. Being around them will remind the solicitors that money still needs to come in. And it will keep them motivated to get in front of donors.

  • Make sure to congratulate your team on gifts of all sizes
    Solicitors, especially volunteers, get discouraged when donors come in lower than they expected. But that's why we set up things like recommend having 5 prospects for every gift level. So be sure to encourage the solicitors and thank them for keeping the asks moving forward! Even smaller gifts are better than no gifts.

Those are my recommendations

What do you think? Is talking about your goal motivating or fatal? Tell us in the comments!

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to


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  2. [...] few days ago fundraising coach Marc Pitman?s blog pointed me to a TED talk that made my stomach lurch and led me to rethink what I teach about [...]

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