How nonprofits can use SMART goals to chart impact
by Beth Kanter
SMART Objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely objectives. The Aspen Institute’s Continuous Progress blog points out they come in three flavors:
Tactical: Tools and techniques
Results: Money, time, or other tangible result that can be converted
Capacity: People, content, workflow, learning
The process includes beginning with identifying intent. Next, make it specific by adding a number, percentage, increase/decrease and a date. Some nonprofits find it hard to do because it takes hitting the pause button. Also, there may be a feeling that one is getting “graded” if they don’t make the deadline or hit the target number. But remember: SMART objectives can be revised along the way.
Some struggle to find an attainable number. Benchmarking, comparing your organization’s past performance to itself, or doing a formal or informal analysis of peer organizations, can help. It also helps to break down your goal into monthly or quarterly benchmarks.
It’s also important to think about what specific metrics are needed to measure along the way. Often, there is too much data collected and not enough sense-making of it. Many organizations think more data is better. It’s best to concentrate on the one or two data points that will help guide improvements and demonstrate results. With social media as with communications strategies, the data points are those that will help measure: awareness, attitudes, actions, or behavioral change.
Finally, allocating time for a reflection about what worked or what didn’t work based on an analysis of the data is critical. Many nonprofits have not institutionalized this approach. Unfortunately, there is a goldmine of learning lost about lead to success or how to improve results next time around.
Here’s a summary of 25 SMART social media objectives (actually, more than 25) from the Leveraging Social Media project with arts organizations:
- Increase website traffic by 25% by adding social media content starting posting by Nov. 1, 2013.
- Acquire 100 new donors through Facebook Causes by June 30, 2013
- Increase email list sign ups through social media channels by 500 names by June 30, 2013
- Increase the number of gallery visitors who purchase (in person or online) by 20% by June 30, 2013
- Increase online and print mentions by 25% by June 30, 2013
- Increase enrollment in classes and workshops by 50% by June 30, 2013
- Increase exhibition visitors by 15% by June 30, 2013
- Increase audience connections through Facebook to 1,000 by June 1, 2013
- Increase our month to month Post Feedback on Facebook by 25% on average
- Increase mentions by 20% on Twitter before, during, and after performances for 2013
- Increase likes and comments with fans on Facebook to three comments per post by June 30, 2013
- Increase views on YouTube by 50% by January 2013
- Increase the number of retweets and @replies on Twitter by 20% by Sept., 30, 2013
- Recruit 40 organizations to join our LinkedIn organization page by June 30, 2013
- Increase website traffic from Facebook by 20% by Sept. 30, 2013
- Use Facebook to increase Festival attendance and online program views by 5% by September 2013
- Identify top 25 influencers on Twitter to build relationships to help blog, repost, and spread the word about online program by Sept. 30, 2013
- Increase the age/ethnicity/gender/income/geographic of Facebook fans by 20% by June 30, 2013
- Create video trailers for all productions garnering an average of 100 views per trailer for the 2013-2014 programs
- Integrate social media across organization staff and ask departments to use it reach goals by 2013
- Conduct an audience survey to determine where to expand, grow, and diversify social media presence for 2013
- Create one video per month to tell stories about the impact of our organization by January 2014
- Recruit 40 organizations
- Staff members in membership, fundraising, communications, and marketing departments will use social media tools to engage audiences on Facebook page three times per week
- Conduct surveys at the end of every class and workshop to gather important audience social media usage data and experience with program by June 2013
- Enhance visual storytelling capacity and diversify type of content shared with a goal of increasing videos by 10%, photos by 20% and text that stimulates comments by 20% by Aug. 1, 2013
- Create a presence and support active fans on social fundraising sites Crowdrise and Change.org by Sept. 30, 2013
- Create a system to collect, aggregate, and share user-generated content on social media by audiences by Sept. 30, 2013
What if we stepped away from the process of checking off items on our to do list, and spent a little bit of time charting impact of our nonprofit’s social media use? What if we made sure the process for identifying SMART objectives included capacity building, measurement, and reflection?
What are your organization’s SMART social media objectives? How did you determine it? How will you measure them along the way?
Beth Kanter is the co-author of Measuring the Networked Nonprofit. This post originally appeared at bethkanter.org.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported.