Measuring Return on Objectives

When trying to measure the success of something, you’ll often hear the term return on investment (ROI). It’s a measure that can work in the business world where an initiative directly results in a change in sales. It’s hard to tie marketing to ROI because things like branding and communication overhauls don’t lead to fast change.

Let’s be honest, outside of the business world, ROI does not make much sense for non-profits and churches, where hard numbers aren’t easy to measure and don’t directly show success.

As an alternative, let me introduce return on objectives (ROO). It’s not my idea, but one more businesses and organizations are using to measure the success of initiatives that don’t always lead to immediate results.

The nice thing about ROO is it measures whether you met your goals, not whether you made money. It helps you know if you’re organization is moving in the right direction in achieving long-term goals. Here are a few more reasons to consider measuring ROO.

  • It makes you set goals. Whenever you launch something new, whether it’s a website, volunteer program or new initiative, you should set goals for what you want to accomplish. What will success look like? How can you measure it? What’s the time frame for getting this done? Think about the S.M.A.R.T. method. Set objectives that are specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timely.
  • It makes you measure. It’s easy to skip evaluation. In the church setting we often get too sensitive that any critique, even when it’s constructive, is a personal negative attack. That’s simply not true or productive. If you start a project with the expectation that there will be a measure of success, it makes the evaluation process more natural and routine.
  • It lets you celebrate success and embrace failure. If you have measureable goals, you can get excited when you reach those objectives. Likewise, you can use your failures and learn how to do better moving ahead. When you don’t have objectives it’s hard to define what’s a win. And a team that can’t celebrate isn’t going to have the motivation to do their next great project.
  • It eliminates excuses. The enemy of “that’s the way we’ve always done it” is measurable objectives. It gives you some tangible support of why things need to change or keep moving forward.

I know talking about something like ROO feels sort of corporate, but don’t let that distract you. To be good stewards of your God-given resources, you have to have accountability. Setting objectives is healthy. It gives you direction. And it lets you change course when needed.

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