Goal: a personal or organizational desired end
Projection: a calculation of some future thing
These two terms are related but subtly different. Generally speaking, for a healthy organization, the projections drive the goal setting process. However, at some organizations, the goal is a different (and perhaps totally unrelated) number to what you project that you can actually raise.
At some institutions, an unreasonable, unrealistic goal situation may arise from a team leader that doesn't understand the difference between a goal and a projection and they pick an arbitrary figure that sounds good. ("Let's raise 10% more this year than last year", for example.) Or, it may have come about because of real budgetary needs of the institution for unrestricted support.
Creating projections is a tedious process requiring a patient analysis of past performance and building models for future performance. So, if you have a firm goal set before you that you know (or believe) you cannot reach, why should you bother to create elaborate projections?
Here are three important reasons to do projections even if your goal is already set:
1) Projections will help you to pinpoint the shortfall
Setting projections shows you where the program is not performing to expectations and why the goal is not feasible (assuming that's true). It helps you to tell the story to those in management of what is really happening with the fundraising.
2) The process may help you to identify potential areas of opportunity
Projections can show you opportunities that you might have overlooked. You build your projections segment by segment and it is possible that you might have some new segments that you haven't solicited before or that you have a new strategy for. These may help you get closer to your goal.
3) You need the projections to become a lobbyist for your program.
It's illogical to do the same thing every year and expect different results. With a projections spreadsheet, you can show what's possible with more budgetary resources. You can tell the story that with [this much] future investment in the program, [this much] more revenue can result.
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Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.