4 Keys to Goal Setting

Among the many benefits of having well designed goals, the most important is that it helps you actually accomplish them. In this article we will go over why you should make goals, what makes a goal achievable, and how to set goals for your team and organization.

Why you need goals

In animal welfare, we often confuse purpose for goals. Our purpose is always to save lives, but goals are how we accomplish that. Goals keep us focused and more efficient. They help bring the team together, inspire new initiatives, and create a feeling of accomplishment. Well made goals will always help you save more animals.

What makes a good goal?

  1. Achievable – Always make sure that your goal is accomplishable. Having “pie in the sky” goals is not only ineffective for your team, but it hurts moral when they can’t be achieved. This is not to say you shouldn’t have challenging goals. If you aren’t sure if a goal is reasonable, have tiered goals. Start with a ‘level 1’ goal that is well within your reach and go all the way up to a ‘level 5’.
  2. Timely – Put a time limit on your goal. Make sure this is enough time for the team to create a plan, organize, and measure results. You don’t want the goal to be so far that your team doesn’t feel like they need to jump into action right away. You can use a tiered approach for this as well. Start with achieving the goal in 1 month, then 3 months, then 6 months.
  3. Clearly Defined – Everyone should know the following:
    • What achievement looks like. The goal should be measurable. For example, a measurable goal is to increase the foster program by 20%. A non-measurable goal is to grow the foster program.
    • Why the goal exists. The goal should serve a larger purpose.
    • How each individual can contribute to reaching the goal.
    • Who is responsible for any part of the goal.

4. Key Results – These are smaller steps your will take to accomplish your goal. They should also be measurable, achievable, and clearly defined.

Setting goals for your organization

The first step is identifying the part of your rescue or shelter that needs the most immediate help or change. If you haven’t yet, head over to our Limiting Factor Series to determine the area you need to focus on. For an example, we will consider our limiting factor is space. Once you’re ready, walk through these steps:

  1. Define the problemWe don’t have any qualified fosters to take in reactive dogs.
  2. Determine your goalCreate a foster program with 5 fosters who can take reactive dogs in 3 months.
    Key results:
    Identify 10 interested and qualified candidates for the program in the first month
    Create a program with a trainer in 1 month

    Is this a good goal?

    Achievable – We’ll imagine that our example rescue has an existing foster program and an existing relationship with a trainer so creating a program in 3 months, does seem achievable. But, if we wanted to tier this goal, we could say Create a foster program with 2 fosters in 3 months and 5 fosters in 6 months.

    Timely – We have stated that the goal will be accomplished in 3 months.

    Clearly Defined – We know that success is 5 fosters so we can grow the foster program to accommodate reactive dogs.

    Key Results – We have 2 key results. They are achievable, clearly defined, and timely. They will also help keep us on track for reaching our goal.
  3. Discuss the goal with your team – Everyone should be on the same page and know how they can individually help to accomplish the goal. Always be open to modifying your goal as it is discussed, but once you being working towards the goal, it should not change.
  4. Get started! Create a clear start and end date for when you will be working towards this goal. Many people like to have goals by quarter, choose whatever works best for your team. At the end of the timeline you have given yourself, reflect on your goal. Did you accomplish it? How did things go? How could you adjust for the future? Remember to celebrate the wins and use the losses to improve your organization.

For your own blank template, head over to our graphics page.


Goals are essential to our organization performing at its peak capacity. Your team will be able to accomplish more and feel better about it when you have clearly defined goals. It takes practice so it’s okay to learn as you go. If you need help creating a goal or if you aren’t sure it meets some of the guidelines for a good goal – reach out! We are happy to discuss.

Happy rescuing!

Is this article missing something? Have questions? Want help applying what you learned to your organization? Send us a message!

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