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Organizational sustainability

Goals are used to guide activities towards an intended result.


Goals help to:

  • Work together in the same direction.
  • Make choices about what to do.
  • Decide what has higher priority.
  • Allocate money and time.
  • Motivate people.
  • Improve performance.
  • Make an organization and its employees accountable.


Strategic goals are long-term goals that describe in general terms what an organization would like to achieve.


Strategic goals exist in form of program goals and goals for management functions (also called organizational goals).


Strategic objectives help to accomplish a strategic goal.


There could be a number of objectives that relate to a specific strategic goal.


Objectives will specify as far as it is necessary:

  • What should be changed, preserved, avoided or done.
  • In which direction something will change.
  • Who will benefit from the change, respectively from preserving, avoiding or doing something?
  • How much something will change.
  • Until when something will happen.


Developing strategic goals and objectives


How do you develop or set strategic goals? The answer to this question depends on the organizational approach to developing (setting) goals.

Graphic 1:      Approaches to developing strategic goals


Top-down approach

In case of the basic version of the top-down approach, senior management (such as the Chief Executive, the founder(s) will determine the strategic goals for programs and management functions.

Organizations might also include leaders of programs and of management functions in developing strategic goals (participatory approach).

Top-down approaches link goals and objectives to the organizational mission.


Bottom-up approach

In this case, the goal setting process will start on employee level. They set goals and objectives for themselves. These will lead to goals and objectives for the areas where they work.

Strategic goals and objectives for programs and management functions will be the final result of the process. The bottom-up approach might lead to strategic goals and objectives that are not aligned to the organization´s mission.


Examples of strategic goals linked to a mission statement


1. Mission statement of the “World Wildlife Fund”

“WWF’s mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.”

WWF´s strategic goals:         

  • “Protect and restore species and their habitats”.
  • “Strengthen local communities' ability to conserve the natural resources they depend upon“.
  • “Transform markets and policies to reduce the impact of the production and consumption of commodities”.
  • “Ensure that the value of nature is reflected in decisions made by individuals, communities, governments and businesses”.
  • “Mobilize hundreds of millions of people to support conservation”.


2. Mission statement of the “Karuna Foundation”

“Karuna Foundation strives to decrease the number of birth defects and disabilities among children in developing countries, by improving existing health systems and empowering communities and vulnerable groups within these communities, such as children with a disability, mothers and newborns, to develop their capacity to claim their right to healthcare.

Besides, Karuna works to improve the quality of life of children with a disability and their families.”

The Foundation´s strategic goals:         

  • “Decreased number of children born with or who developed a disability”.
  • “Improved quality of life for children living with a disability”.
  • “An evidence based sustainable and replicable health care model”.


3. Mission statement of “Salford University”

“Salford is an enterprising University which transforms individuals and communities through excellent teaching, research, innovation and engagement.”

The university´s strategic goals:

  • “Transforming learning and teaching: To achieve standing for teaching and quality in the first quartile of UK Universities by 2017”.
  • “Transforming research and innovation: To achieve national standing for research performance in the first quartile of UK Universities by 2017
  • “Transforming engagement: To achieve national standing for research performance in the first quartile of UK Universities by 2017”.
  • “Our people: Recruiting, retaining, developing and supporting a workforce that enables the University to achieve its vision and mission.”
  • “Transforming infrastructure and services: To develop spaces, infrastructure and services of outstanding quality to support an ambitious, creative and confident learning organisation supported loyally by its staff and students and widely admired by the community”.
  • “Internationalising the University: To foster a strong embedded culture of internationalisation, which encourages our staff, students and stakeholders to view our world from both a local and a global perspective, extends our international engagement, contributes to our teaching and research goals, extends our influence and reputation – to create a more powerful and recognised brand for the University of Salford.”


Sources/ Guide to further reading (available online)


C.McNamara, Basics of identifying strategic issues and goals, at: http://managementhelp.org/strategicplanning/issues-goals.htm

National Minority Aids Council, Strategic planning, at: http://www.nmac.org/pdf/strategic%20planning.pdf

USAID, Fundamentals of NGO Financial Sustainability, at: http://www.abtassociates.com/reports/NGOSustainability.pdf

University of Salford, Our strategic plan, at: http://staff.salford.ac.uk/transforming/index.php

University of Salford, The six strategic goals, at: http://staff.salford.ac.uk/transforming/goals.php

World Wildlife Fund, About WWF, at: http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/index.html

Karuna Foundation, Vision, Mission, Goals, at: http://www.karunafoundation.nl/missie/index_uk.html