When setting a dollar goal for a significant, multi-year campaign, it can be tempting to reduce the process to some mathematical formula or calculus. For instance,
Average amount raised over the last few years X number of years of the campaign X some campaign multiplier effect = campaign goal.
Another, more subtle and intuitive approach, though, is to better understand what our donors, especially those who we count as our closest and most generous, believe to be an achievable campaign goal.
From their perspective, if the campaign goal is set too high, they probably aren’t going to offer their best gifts because few donors will give their best if they perceive the goal to be out of reach. Similarly, set the campaign goal too low in their estimation, and, again, we probably won’t receive their most generous gifts. Why would they stretch their giving in support of a campaign with a goal they believe to be easily achieved?
Psychologically, we want our campaign dollar goal to be met with a different response from our closest, most generous donors. We want the response to be, “It’s a stretch. . . but if everyone gives generously, it can be achieved.”