How S.M.A.R.T is Your Nonprofit’s Goals

Having clarity on the path forward is crucial to your organization’s success; but what about the quality of the goals themselves? This is where S.M.A.R.T comes in. It’s a system that can help to guide you in making clear goals that get to the heart of what your non-profit wants to achieve. Here are the five elements:

  1. Specific

Make a lot of money” is a great goal, but it lacks direction. In order to create a specific goal, ask yourself the Five “W”s: 

Who is involved in achieving this goal?

What do you want to accomplish by achieving this goal?

Where will this goal be achieved?

When do you want to achieve this goal? 

Why do you want to achieve it? 

Determining these answers is the first step in a S.M.A.R.T outline.

  1. Measurable

An important aspect to consider while setting S.M.A.R.T is whether your goals are “measurable”. It is important to understand leading and lagging indicators: leading indicators look forward at future outcomes and events; lagging indicators look back at whether the intended result was achieved. For example, donor engagement could be a leading indicator of future revenue and volunteer engagement, which are lagging indicators. Once an organization can measure these key performance indicators (KPIs), it will become more successful and allow the organization to see which targets have been achieved, and why…

  1. Achievable 

Ask yourself the following? Is this goal achievable? Do you have everything you need to accomplish it? If not, what is needed (people, financial resources, tools, training, etc.) to ensure the best chance of succeeding? List everything and start leading your team in that direction. 

  1. Realistic

Look at the timeframe set for your organization’s S.M.A.R.T goals, and discuss whether it would be realistic to complete them within the allotted period; consider other commitments that you or your team members have made. Could these tasks block your S.M.A.R.T goals from being realized? If so, how can that be avoided? You might want to research other companies that set a similar goal, and use them as one of your examples. What steps did they take to reach their goal, and can you do the same? 

  1. Time-bound 

Finally, figure out the projected schedule to accomplish your S.M.A.R.T goals. How long will it take to complete them, and by when would you ideally want to have them achieved? It may also be good to set smaller “victory” goals that keep everyone engaged and enthusiastic along the way to reaching the “BHAG” (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). By setting, and adhering to, deadlines for your S.M.A.R.T goals, you and your team will be able to move towards the finish line at an even pace without rushing or sacrificing integrity. 

The S.M.A.R.T framework has helped countless nonprofits get clear on their future and execute goals that may have felt too big to accomplish. Remember: the more detailed you are with your goals, the more likely they will come to fruition. 

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