Goals and objectives are often confused but both are very important ideas that need to be used and integrated to have a clear picture and plan, of where you are trying to take an organization or business.

I’ve been working mostly in tourism for around 5 years and have been working in various capacities with DMOs for around 10. I have so often seen objectives confused for goals and vice versa even from industry experts.

So let’s clear it up and give you something clear and valuable to take away….

Goals are the top-level things we are trying to achieve. Long term aims.

Your goal as a member-based organization may be to build a strong, growing, engaged member base.

This goal may not waiver over the next 10 years. Even if you are achieving objectives along the way that clearly mark progress towards it.

Objectives are by definition – objective.

The opposite of subjective. What they look like, what defines them, does not change. Regardless of who is looking at them and from what angle.

Take for example our goal of a member-based org we just mentioned – ‘to build a strong, growing, engaged member base’. There are no parameters that define what this looks like. Strong, growing, and engaged in this sense, is completely subjective. What you call growth, I might call going backward. What a board member calls ‘engaged’ may be completely disengaged in comparison to another’s point of view.

Objectives, on the other hand, are specific and measurable. It doesn’t matter who is looking at it, the definition and progress to achieve it, is clear and unambiguous.  Objectives give you an idea if you are working towards your goal.

  • Is event attendance up by 20% this year?
  • Are more members logging into the member portal, how many more?
  • How many members have accessed grants this year, as opposed to last year.

Before you leave, if you can’t already clearly and quickly articulate it, I encourage you to answer these two questions even if you don’t have all the stakeholders you need in the room, to adopt it and move forward as a team. Just you, right now. 

  • What is your goal for your Member base?
  • What are the objectives you will define to track and report on progress towards that goal?