How to Choose a Goal for Your Fundraising Campaign

Setting a Goal that Motivates and Inspires Support

One of the most significant hurdles in fundraising for a family in crisis is overcoming the "fear of public perception." Many families are concerned about being perceived as needy or incapable of self-sufficiency. This fear can be a substantial barrier to seeking help. However, it's essential to shift this mindset.

Remember, those who care about the family are often looking for ways to help. Financial support, in this context, becomes a direct and meaningful way for them to express their concern and solidarity.

Setting a goal makes the abstract idea of 'help' much more actionable.

Understanding the Full Spectrum of Costs

When a family faces a crisis, such as the loss of a loved one, initial thoughts often gravitate towards immediate expenses like funeral costs. However, the financial ramifications extend far beyond these initial costs.

Let's break down these expenses:

Immediate Expenses

These are the costs that arise directly from the event. For instance, in the case of a medical emergency, this could include hospital bills, medication costs, and perhaps home care expenses. If it's a funeral, expenses could range from the funeral service to the burial or cremation costs. An example is the Smith family, who faced unexpected hospital bills amounting to thousands of dollars after a car accident.

Ongoing Financial Commitments

Consider regular expenses such as mortgage or rent, utility bills, and other recurring payments. The loss of a family member, especially if they were a primary earner, can drastically affect the family's ability to meet these obligations. The need to cover ongoing expenses is not limited to loss. Imagine a chronic illness that requires a job change or perhaps when chemo treatments lead to regular sickness and fatigue. The Stevenson family, for example, struggled to keep up with mortgage payments after the sudden loss of Mr. Stevenson, the primary breadwinner.

As fundraising goals are achieved and increased, funding needs further and further into the future is a natural next step.

Future Needs and Adjustments

Long-term changes in the family's financial situation should also be considered. This could include the loss of income, increased childcare costs if the deceased was a primary caregiver or future educational expenses for children. The Albertson family had to rethink their children's education funding after Mrs. Albertson, a university professor and the main educator in the family, passed away.

Given so many unknowns and changes over time, people are usually comfortable with ballpark estimates for larger, future expenses. Also, keep in mind, that it can be emotionally painful for a family to look too far into the future and contemplate all the life changes ahead.

Unexpected Costs

Often overlooked are unforeseen expenses related to lifestyle adjustments, counseling services, or legal fees. For instance, the Davis family incurred additional costs for counseling services to help them cope with the trauma of their family's house fire.

Setting a Reasonable and Adaptable Goal

Determining costs you may never have experienced can be tricky. In many cases, estimations are fine.

With a rough understanding of these costs, setting a realistic initial financial target for your fundraiser is crucial. This goal should encompass immediate expenses and provide a buffer for miscalculations or approximations.

Start with an Achievable Target

Begin with a goal that feels attainable. This approach encourages early donations and builds momentum.

For example, setting a modest initial target of $5,000 can kickstart the fundraising efforts. As seen in the case of the Thompson family, they were able to gradually raise their goal as support poured in.

Setting the initial goal too high, on the other hand, can seem discouraging and unmotivating for donors. You want your goal to elicit a "we got this" response.

Be Transparent with Donors

Transparency is key. Clearly communicate what the funds will be used for. This clarity builds trust and can encourage larger donations. A good example is the Green family, who outlined their needs in detail, leading to a more substantial response from the community. As each major need is covered, supporters should be sent an update and a "thank you".

Ready to Increase Over Time

Be prepared to reassess and increase the goal as milestones are met. Keep your supporters updated on the family's evolving needs and how additional funds will help.

The Carter family’s fundraiser is a prime example, where they adjusted their goal upwards as medical treatment costs increased. When their loved one was eventually transferred to hospice, a new goal was set to cover funeral arrangements.

There can be positive reasons to increase goals too. Imagine a high school senior who "rings the bell", finishing their last round of chemo. In celebration, the family may raise the goal to fund a car for college, an exciting inevitability for which they weren't prepared.

Celebrate Milestones

Acknowledge each goal reached and thank your donors. This not only shows appreciation but also maintains momentum for ongoing fundraising efforts.


Setting a clear, well-thought-out financial goal is vital in effectively supporting a family in need. By understanding the scope of the family's financial requirements and maintaining flexibility in your targets, you can rally substantial support and provide significant aid during challenging times.

The overall objective is not merely to cover immediate costs but to ensure the family's stability and well-being in the long term. Remember, every family's situation is unique, and their needs can evolve, so staying adaptable and responsive is key to successful fundraising.


  • Published: Nov 14, 2023
  • Last Updated: Nov 16, 2023

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