How To Set Strategic Goals At Year End For Your Nonprofit

Nonprofits can take advantage of the year-end period by reflecting and looking forward with strategic goals. These tips will help you get started.


The end of the year launches nonprofits everywhere into several busy months of intensive outreach, fundraising appeals, event planning, and bookkeeping. After all, a successful year-end campaign can bring in game-changing funds and attract new donors to power your mission.

While concluding the year on a high note is a priority for many nonprofits, it’s also important to look to the coming year. By establishing strategic goals at year end, you can pave the way to a brighter future for your organization and the people you serve.

Explore these tips to guide your nonprofit’s year-end goal-setting:

  1. Reflect on the past year.
  2. Review your strategic plan.
  3. Set SMART year-end strategic goals.
  4. Consider enlisting expert help.

Whether you’re looking to improve your donor retention strategy, invest in leadership development, or adopt more sustainable practices, developing effective goals ensures that your team stays focused and motivated.

1. Reflect on the past year.

Chances are, your nonprofit is not ending the year where it first started. You’ve navigated changes, overcome challenges, and secured victories for your cause. All these experiences serve as learning opportunities for you to glean insights from.

As you approach the final months of the year, examine the challenges you’ve faced and identify any necessary future improvements. According to The Center for Effective Philanthropy’s Nonprofit Voice Project report, many nonprofit leaders have highlighted funding changes, capacity building, professional development, and staffing as their top areas to focus on.

Based on your nonprofit’s past year, you might prioritize defining goals related to:

  • Community outreach
  • Volunteer engagement
  • Event planning
  • Advocacy
  • Operational expenses
  • Program impact

Take the time to survey your employees, donors, and other individuals in the community to learn more about their experiences and expectations of your nonprofit. You might discover, for instance, that many of your staff members could benefit from dedicated management training to learn how to better communicate with and engage their teams. Consolidate all of this feedback and data to inform your strategies in the upcoming year.

2. Review your strategic plan.

Your nonprofit needs to consistently communicate its story, goals, and impact to secure lasting support for its mission. With so many causes in the world vying for attention, you must outline exactly how your organization works to improve the lives of its beneficiaries to stand out. One way to do this is by crafting and sharing your organization’s strategic plan with donors, volunteers, advocates, and corporate partners.

Through the strategic planning process, you can realign everyone on your nonprofit’s goals and priorities. Since this plan typically provides a roadmap for your long-term success and impact, the year end presents an ideal opportunity to re-evaluate everything and determine whether your team needs to adjust its strategies. Additionally, an annual review of your strategic plan allows your nonprofit to set new objectives that align with your broader goals.

Your strategic plan is your nonprofit’s ultimate guide on its journey to creating a meaningful impact in its community. It can function as an invaluable reference when developing your strategic goals at year end.

3. Set SMART strategic goals.

Once you’ve collected all the necessary resources, it’s time to come up with strategic goals for your nonprofit. To ensure that you’re ready to hit the ground running in the following year, use the SMART framework to support your goal-setting:

  • Specific. Clearly state exactly what your nonprofit wants to accomplish. For example, you decide that you would like to increase the number of monthly donors by 25%.
  • Measurable. Continuing with the example above, let’s say you currently have 100 monthly donors. Throughout the year, you’ll be able to easily track how close your nonprofit is to reaching its goal of 125 monthly donors.
  • Achievable. Your strategic goals should inspire your team, not discourage them. For instance, if you’ve just launched a monthly giving program, consider your budget and staff capacity. If this is a new opportunity, you might not want to aim for enrolling 125 new monthly donors immediately. Instead, you could focus on raising more brand awareness through digital outreach campaigns.
  • Relevant. Your goal should align with your strategic plan and further your nonprofit’s mission. This way, you’ll know you’re putting your efforts to good use.
  • Time-based. Include a specific deadline, such as the end of the following year, to help your team assess your progress and work efficiently toward your goal.

As you define your strategic goals at year end, following the SMART framework ensures that your team members feel inspired and committed to your next actions. Additionally, if your team consistently tracks its performance, refer back to your previous year’s goals to measure your progress and align your plan to fill in any missed gaps or opportunities.

4. Consider enlisting expert help.

There are countless goals that your nonprofit could set at year end. Choosing the right ones is key to making the most of your limited time and resources. If you’ve taken a look at your past year’s data, survey results, and strategic plan, but you’re still not sure what the next best steps are, consider reaching out to a consultant for support.

According to Laridae’s rundown on nonprofit consultants, these experts can support your organization in a variety of areas, including:

  • Strategic planning
  • Communications
  • Governance
  • Human Resources
  • Fundraising
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (DEI)
  • Finance
  • Legal Matters

A nonprofit consultant provides an outside perspective to maximize your goal-setting efforts. As you research potential consultants, prioritize those who have extensive and specialized experience working in the nonprofit sector. They’ll be able to help you apply the latest best practices and engage your stakeholders in honest conversations to hone your strategic goals at year end.

At the end of the year, it’s common to think about everything your nonprofit has accomplished in the previous months. As you communicate your achievements and impact to supporters, don’t forget to share your upcoming goals as well. According to 360MatchPro’s corporate sponsorships guide, discussing your nonprofit’s needs and goals is essential to developing stronger relationships with those whose interests and missions align with yours.

Adopt an improvement mindset during this year-end season by setting clear, strategic goals for your nonprofit. Doing so empowers you to improve your results and amplify your impact year after year.

Want more tips like this? Subscribe to get the best content from the Learn Library once a month.

Featured Photo: Support 500 Kosovo Youth Learn by Volunteering by The Kosovar Organization for Talent and Education TOKA
Get Free Tips + Tools in Your Inbox
Subscribe to get the best content from the Learn Library in your inbox once per month.
Meet Your New Fundraising Team
Join GlobalGiving for training and support tailored to you.

Looking for something specific?

Find exactly what you're looking for in our Learn Library by searching for specific words or phrases related to the content you need.

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.