5 Ways to Go Beyond SMART Goals for Your Nonprofit in 2012

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01.04.2012By

The hardest thing about setting goals is determining the difference between being realistic and being a healthy stretch.

You want to be realistic so that you can feel good by actually reaching the goal. But you also want to grow stronger by working hard towards that goal.

If you’re like most people, you already know about SMART goals. Here are five tips that can help you get more from your smart goals:

1. Shoot Low

If you’re just starting in a new area, like a blog, you have no past information to help you determine what is realistic versus what’s going to be a stretch. All you know is that you want to have a successful blog that you’re happy with.

Shooting high in this case could mean failure and disappointment. But shooting low will make sure that you’re successful and happy. An example could be: Publish one blog post each week (this might make sense as a three-month goal). At the end of three months, check “done” and go out for some brews!

2. Make Wise Goals

Part of setting SMART goals is setting goals based on wisdom (knowledge of yourself and your organization). This means going beyond knowing what’s achievable. It means knowing what’s right for you right now.

Becoming more capable at social media isn’t any different. Know what you do well, what your weaknesses are and what you’re afraid of (admitting fear is the same as facing it).

3. Be Proud But Don’t Brag

There are folks who brag about have 50,000 Facebook fans, and there folks who are proud about getting their first 25 fans.

The difference between bragging and being proud is the benchmark source. Bragging is focused on comparing to externals, like other Facebook Pages. Being proud is focused on achieving an internal victory, like overcoming self-doubt.

While getting more Facebook fans is certainly a worthy goal, if it’s not meaningful people won’t feel proud when (or if) it’s achieved.

4. Understand What You Influence

One of the most important things about creating SMART goals that work is understanding what’s within your sphere of influence.

Can you directly influence the amount of donations from Facebook? No.

But you can directly influence how well you connect fans with each other, how interesting your content is, and how responsive you are to your fans.

So when you set goals, keep in mind what you do and don’t control. Here are some more examples:

  • Fan growth – can’t control
  • Fan engagement – can control
  • Showing up on page one in a Google search – can’t control
  • Tweaking permalink structures and keyword prevalence on your site  – can control
  • The number of online donations you receive – can’t control
  • The sincerity and number of thank you notes you send out to donors – can control

5. Put On Your Lab Coat

The entire field of social media is in its infancy. Yes, there are case studies and success stories. But for the most part, you are pioneering a path on your own. Make sure you embed learning into all your goals. In other words, what do you want to learn this year? Write it down!

What else can you add?

  • Good advice, John. I would add one more. Don’t be hesitant to ask for help. Getting volunteers and board members involved can not only engage their skills and reinforce their loyalty, it helps orgs achieve their goals.

  • Great post! I’m a huge fan of SMART goals. One of my favorite aspects is the time-bound part. Building in the urgency of a deadline forces you to really think about how you are going to reach that goal, rather than kinda sorta work on it for a while. It’s also an important part of putting on your lab coat! You have to end the experiment to evaluate and prepare the next one!