Tricks of the Trade

by sherylross on March 8, 2011 · 0 comments

in Business

I once had an employer who couldn’t remember the difference between horizontal  and vertical.  She came to me for direction because she knew I wouldn’t judge her and she also knew I would unequivocally know the answer.

I told her to use a very easy trick; think of the horizon and that is how you remember horizontal and once you have that, up and down is simple as vertical.  She was appreciative and went on her way.  I felt as if I had helped someone but couldn’t help but wonder how she was garnering an almost six-figure income and I was making an hourly wage as an Assistant Manager!  I chalked this inverted interpersonal situation up to an overall learning experience and the general craziness that sometimes happens in this journey we call life.

A similar conundrum is found in the specific language that is sometimes used in the world of non-profits.  In the coarse of the years, I have worked with many non-profits or emerging groups that have sought to use the words  goals and objectives interchangeably.   This is seen most evidently in their writing for promotional materials, websites and collateral marketing.    All to often this practice is perpetuated from one generation of materials to another until they are confronted with the specific the task of writing a grant.  Then, during that process, they find out that not only do the words have very distinct meanings but they must be demonstrated effectively in writing.

Simply put . . . the GOALS of an agency describe the general direction in which the organization is headed; along with its varying programs or ideals.

The OBJECTIVES are the expected or projected outcomes of any given proposal or project and must be  specific, measurable and time related.

In addition to the goals and objectives, many organizations fail to include the METHODS.  These are critical to the success of any endeavor since they serve as the blueprints for how and when things are accomplished.  They must include:

  1. Who is affected?
  2. What will change or occur?
  3. How will effects be measured?
  4. What is the proposed criteria?
  5. When will the effects be measured?

Without these critical elements in play, it is difficult to have a true reading or understanding of the intent of the goals of any given organization; whether established or newly emerging.  Just a few “Tricks of the Trade” help any group to explain itself to donors and volunteers alike.  The effort doesn’t have to be perfect but it does need to be excellent.

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