High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.
– Charles Kettering
Every day you set forth on a path to achieve the seemingly unachievable. You work tirelessly to raise the funds needed to feed the hungry, treat the sick, provide an education to all, and restore humanity. You live in a place where hope is the currency and impossibility is the commodity. You committed to this journey as a bold and uncompromising leader.
How do we know this? Because in part one of our four-part series, you affirmed that the following two statements apply to you:
- I believe that changing the world is possible.
- I have a vision for the future, and I’m compelled to make this vision a reality.
You studied the fundamentals of Breakthrough and began your journey to embrace it as a practiced skill.
In part two of our four-part series, you continued the journey and began to think about your thinking. You explored a new mindset that viewed challenges through the lens of what is possible and created solutions by asking “what will it take to…” You developed awareness for how your thinking may be limiting your success and invested in time to see how our current thinking was impacting your current actions.
Setting A Breakthrough Goal
Now let’s set your Breakthrough Goal. To start, we must first define it. A Breakthrough Goal is not just a WIG (wildly important goal) or a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal), it is something bigger than that. It is something that feels totally and utterly out of our reach. You’ll know your goal is Breakthrough when it makes you feel both excited and uncomfortable at the same time.
To help you get started, think about something in your organization that inspires you: a mission outcome, a financial milestone, or a future state. Then ask yourself two questions:
- Does this feel achievable?
- Can I define the path to achieving it?
If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then reach a little further. Increase it, accelerate it, or expand it. In the end, your Breakthrough Goal should be so meaningful that it establishes an artificial emergency in your business in your mind because it inspires a reality that feels nearly impossible to achieve.
As you reach far in establishing your Breakthrough Goal, take comfort when you start to sense it is creating an artificial emergency. That artificial emergency will pull you away from the status quo and lead you to ask, “what will it take to make this happen?”
To help you set your Breakthrough Goal, start by stating a reality that would change the paradigm for the constituency you serve. Write down what that reality looks and feels like. Write specific attributes defining the reality. Below are a few examples to help:
- We are helping more women have access to mammograms
- We have a collaborative executive leadership team
- We are getting more people to fundraise for the walk
- We have stopped supporting the volunteer-led social event that runs at a net loss
- We are providing more food to families in the community
These are great and powerful realities – ones all of us would all be proud to achieve – but they aren’t quite Breakthrough. To get them there, we need to add a few elements. In order to turn these powerful realities into Breakthrough Goals, they must be specific, measurable, require a leap because they are not predictable, and they must open up new futures that cause you to grow. And here’s one more – it should be stated as if it has already been accomplished. The first two probably don’t surprise you. But the last one – stated as if it has already been accomplished – is likely new, and is critical to Breakthrough. See, in Breakthrough, there is no if or maybe – there only is. So, let’s try it. If we take those same realities and turn them into Breakthrough Goals, they might look something like this:
- The 250,000 female residents of Chicago’s Will County, 45 years and older, received mammograms in 2017 thanks to the addition of two new screening clinics.
- Our Executive Leadership Team collaborated on the priorities stated in the strategic plan which accelerated our timeline by 50%.
- All participants in the 2017 NYC walk made personal donation or actively fundraised at least $1 from their networks, which resulted in 50% more revenue.
- We stopped providing resources and staff support for more than 24 volunteer-led social events, resulting in a net gain of 150%.
- In January 2019, all families in the California Bay Area had access to enough nutritious food to support their health and well-being.
Are you starting to get the hang of it? If you want to take it even a step further, add ”because of me…..” in front of your Breakthrough Goal.
Developing a Breakthrough Goal is likely more natural for us as philanthropic leaders because we spend our days combating diminishing results in the midst of increased expectation and competition. To push yourself to reach to the highest expectation you can, set a Breakthrough Goal that will deepen your commitment and remind you of the bold leader you aspired to be on the very first day at your organization. A powerful Breakthrough Goal is essential to the fourth and final piece in the series – Creating the growth needed in your leadership stand.
As you look to create your Breakthrough Goal, here are a few questions to consider:
- What is your mission or vision statement and what would it mean to expand it or accelerate the timeline to achieve it?
- What outcome would truly change the landscape for your constituency?
- What crazy ideas have been shared by your board? Your volunteers? Your constituents?
- Can you measure your Breakthrough Goal and is it specific?
- Does your goal, when stated as something that has already been accomplished, make you both terrified and inspired?
Are you issuing an RFP to find a partner to help take your fundraising program to the next level? We’d love to be considered! As an agency built by fundraisers for fundraisers, Pursuant has helped hundreds of organizations raise billions of dollars through our direct response, direct mail, digital, and analytics services. Reach out to a member of our team here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.