Setting Realistic Goals for Your Strategic Plan

Oct 30, 2023

Goals are an essential part of the strategic planning process for associations, providing a roadmap for the organisation’s direction and priorities. Goals can be classified as either strategic or operational, with strategic goals focusing on long-term outcomes and operational goals focusing on the day-to-day activities needed to achieve those outcomes. Setting realistic and achievable goals is crucial for the success of the organisation, as it helps to focus efforts, track progress, and measure success. Here are some tips for creating realistic strategic planning goals for your association, with examples for each:

Start with a thorough analysis.

Before setting goals, it is important to conduct a thorough analysis of the organisation’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For example, an association might conduct a member survey to identify areas for improvement or gather feedback on current programs and services.

Set SMART goals.

SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) are clear and concise, making them easier to track and achieve. For example, a SMART goal for an association might be to “increase membership by 20% within the next fiscal year by launching a new member recruitment campaign and offering a discounted membership rate for new members.

Involve key stakeholders.

Engage key stakeholders, such as board members, staff, and members, in the goal-setting process to ensure that the goals align with the needs and priorities of the organisation. For example, an association might hold focus groups with members to gather feedback on potential goals and priorities.

Prioritise and focus.

It is important to prioritise goals and focus on a few key areas at a time to ensure that the organisation can make progress and achieve success. For example, an association might prioritise increasing membership and improving member engagement as top goals for the year, rather than trying to tackle multiple goals at once.

Be realistic.

Avoid setting unrealistic goals that are not achievable within the given timeframe. It’s better to set smaller, achievable goals that can be accomplished and build momentum for the organisation. For example, rather than setting a goal to double membership within a year, an association might set a more realistic goal to increase membership by 10% within the year.

Set a timeline.

Be sure to set a timeline for achieving goals to ensure that progress is being made and to keep the organisation on track. For example, an association might set quarterly benchmarks for achieving membership goals, with a final goal to be reached at the end of the fiscal year.

Review and adjust.

Regularly review progress and adjust goals as needed to ensure that they remain relevant and achievable. For example, an association might review membership goals mid-year and make adjustments to the recruitment campaign or member benefits if necessary to better meet the target.

By following these seven tips, associations can set realistic and achievable strategic planning goals.

If you need a briefing on associations for your board or a facilitator to ensure the success of your next strategic planning process, please contact Belinda Moore to speak further.