Tips for Writing SMARTIE Goals

Okay, so you’ve seen our SMARTIE goals worksheet and our goals bank. You’re ready to write your own organizational, departmental, or individual goals. Here are some tips to keep you on track:

  • Mind the “how”. Some outcome goals don’t — at face value — specifically promote equity and inclusion, so you’ll need to make sure that how you reach that goal includes a lens of equity and inclusion. You could even set a goal around an activity or process that will get you to that outcome while building power and shrinking disparities for marginalized people. Process goals might not guarantee quality or timeliness, but they can be helpful guardrails. Below are two examples:
    • Your development team may have an outcome goal to “raise $X by Y to cover this year’s budget and 3 months’ operating reserve.” There are many ways to do this, and one of them might include this activity goal: “recruit, retain, and develop a total of 30,000 dues-paying members, at least X% of whom identify as [people of color / women / trans or gender non-conforming / poor / Spanish-speaking].”
    • Your policy team might have a goal to create and disseminate x policy briefs on immigration by the end of the year. In order to be more inclusive and equitable in the process, you might want to say explicitly: “We will consult with x coalition or y community leaders to get feedback before they are finalized.”
  • Check for unintentional disparate impact. A big part of developing a SMARTIE goal is checking for unintentional disparate impact along lines of identity and power and finding ways to mitigate that impact. But sometimes, you just don’t have enough information (whether that’s precedent or perspective) to anticipate unintended consequences. If that’s the case, make sure you’re explicit about how and when you’ll check for it along the way.
    • Example: “Lower overhead costs by $X by [date]” can be improved by adding “…with quarterly check-ins with staff to check for negative disparate impact of cost savings.”
  • Don’t create arbitrary quotas. We’ve mentioned this already, but it’s worth repeating: there’s a fine line between inclusion and tokenism. What’s the difference? Power. In most cases, it’s not enough to tack on “…and x number of volunteers/new hires/spokespeople should be people of color” unless the people you’re trying to include will be able to influence the work in a meaningful way.
    • Example: “Build a volunteer team of 100 door-to-door canvassers by May, with at least 10% people of color” is a much different goal than “Build a volunteer team of 100 door-to-door canvassers by May, with at least 10 people of color recruited as volunteer leaders first, so that they can help shape the way we run the canvasses.”

As you’re writing your goals, keep in mind that having a SMARTIE goal on paper can be incredibly helpful for advancing equity and inclusion at your organization, but only if two conditions are met: 1) You engage in a process for defining your goals, how you’ll measure them, and how they will lead to greater equity and inclusion and 2) you fully commit to them after they’ve been written.

Questions to ask yourself during the goal-setting process:

  • If I added an outcome or activity goal related to a specific marginalized community, will achieving this goal help build power and/or shrink disparities for this community? If so, how?
  • Who have I consulted to check for unintended negative consequences? Any key stakeholders I’m missing from this list?
  • If the outcome specified in the goal isn’t specifically promoting equity and inclusion, is the process of achieving this goal going to improve equity and inclusion on our team/organization?
  • Once we achieve this goal, how do we imagine it will have pushed us forward on our EI journey?