In March, Heather and Kirsten wrote about their experience in the “Grant Writing Boot Camp” and touched briefly on SMART goals. This post will provide a little more insight into developing goals that meet the criterion of being “SMART.”
SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound. Let’s review each term one at a time.
Let’s make up an imaginary program and work through creating a SMART goal our fake program: Forever Homes, our hypothetical agency, helps dogs in need of homes find permanent (“forever”) homes.
Specific. To say a goal is specific indicates that the goal itself is not too broadly identified. For Forever Homes, a goal could be stated as “rescue dogs.” While this is a goal of the program, it is not specific. What does it mean to “rescue” a dog? Do we mean rescue all dogs from human ownership and free them to the wild (hopefully not!)?
A more specific goal might be something like “Find forever homes for homeless dogs in Minneapolis.” This goal has been improved in a number of ways: We have identified a specific target (homeless dogs); limited our region for homeless dogs (Minneapolis); and defined “rescue” (find forever homes).
Measurable. A measurable goal is simply one that can be measured. By making a goal specific, we are well on our way to having a measurable goal. It is much easier to measure the specific goal, “find forever homes for homeless dogs in Minneapolis” rather than “rescue dogs.” We can measure specifically how many dogs that have been rescued Minneapolis have been placed in forever homes.
Attainable. An attainable goal is one that is able to be reached. Our current goal, “find forever homes for homeless dogs in Minneapolis,” is specific and measurable, but do we really expect to find forever homes for all homeless dogs in Minneapolis? So, to make our goal more attainable, let’s update it to “find forever homes for 90% of the homeless dogs in Minneapolis identified by Forever Homes.” That’s a goal that might be attainable, as opposed to 100% of dogs.
Realistic. This is very similar to an attainable goal; however, just because our goal is attainable does not mean it is realistic. Finding a forever home for 90% of dogs, although possible, might be far beyond what the organization could expect to realistically achieve. Perhaps a more realistic goal is “find forever homes for 75% of the homeless dogs in Minneapolis identified by Forever Homes.”
Time-bound. The most recent version of our goal may have already sprung the question “wait, what if a homeless dog is found a day before the data is reported for evaluation? Should we really count that dog as ‘not having a forever home’ because the dog has only had one day to find a home?” This is one example of why one must make SMART goals time-bound. Let’s revise our goal again: “find forever homes within 6 months for 75% of the homeless dogs in Minneapolis identified by Forever Homes.” One needs to ask here if the time-bound condition is realistic.
We began with “rescue dogs” and ended with “find forever homes within 6 months for 75% of the homeless dogs in Minneapolis identified by Forever Homes.” There is a drastic difference between the two and it should be obvious through the discussion that the second goal achieves SMART status.
Have any insight into SMART goal development you’d like to share? Any follow-up questions? Please comment below.