Objectives provide measurable benchmarks or milestones against which your organization can measure successes or shortcomings on the way to achieving overall goals.
Objectives should make your goals clear and concrete to program staff inside your organization, as well as to external stakeholders. Objectives also help keep your overall goals realistic, by breaking goals down into manageable, measurable bites.
Many organizations find it useful (and many granting organizations require) to break down objectives into three categories:
|How to Write Meaningful Objectives|
Process objectives document and measure the integral steps your organization will take to achieve its goal:
- What your program will do, and
- How your program will do it.
These objectives may include activities, meetings, workshops, participants, interactions, and deadlines. With enough detail, a series of process objectives can also serve as a work plan. Process outcomes help your organization track whether it's on target to carry out activities on time, on budget, and within its planned scope.
Examples: Process Objectives
- Distribute 100 handwashing brochures per day at Minnesota State Fair
- Conduct one community meeting per quarter with North Metro Alliance
- Successfully fulfill 25 technical assistance requests per month
Impact objectives demonstrate how your program or organization has changed participants' attitudes, knowledge, or behavior in the short term. Along with outcome objectives, they show how your program benefits participants.
Impact objectives may seem harder to write, because they are not inherently quantifiable. Despite this, they are still important in speaking to your organization's vision and mission.
Examples: Impact Objectives
- Participants will leave the Introduction to Vaccination program with changed attitudes regarding vaccination
- Participants will leave the Positive Body Image program with higher levels of self-esteem regarding their own bodies and how they fit into a world of diverse body types
Outcome objectives help your organization measure quantifiable progress against benchmarks and goals grounded in measurable data. Outcome objectives are extremely easy to measure--your organization has either met them, or it hasn't. They provide a great way to see where you've exceeded your goals and by how much, and where you might have fallen short of goals and by how much.
Outcome objectives should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable,
Relevant, and Timely. (Hint: For help writing objectives that meet SMART criteria, visit SMART Objectives.)
Examples: Outcome Objectives
- By the third year of the grant period, program staff will have trained 80% of school nurses on the selected train-the-trainer curriculum
- By the end of the event, 90% of participants will be able to identify at least three techniques that can lead to successful smoking cessation
- By 2020, the rate of smoking in the seven-county metro area will decrease by 25%
- Browning: Grantwriting for Dummies
- North Carolina Medical Society: Writing Objectives: A Guide
(DOC: 313KB / 5 pages)
- Duke University Medical Center Dept. of Community & Family Medicine: Measurement: Process and Outcome Indicators
- Williams: Goals and Objectives: Writing Them (PDF: 13KB / 4 pages)
- Safe Routes to School Online Guide: Step 2. Write Objectives
Courses and Trainings
- University of Minnesota School of Public Health:
Operationalizing Quality Improvement in Public Health
Please note: These links are not affiliated with or directly endorsed by MDH.