Goal Setting

Step 1: Determining Needs and Resources

Before you choose a program, you’ll need to justify why a program should be implemented and what the needs of your community are. Are there high rates of teen pregnancy and STIs/HIV where you live? Are young people engaging in risky sexual behavior, and if so, to what extent? We call this a needs assessment. There are several ways to determine the needs of your community:

  • Use existing data to form your justification. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Find existing data using county data and fact sheets. SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) can help you determine the demographics of your community. Identify relevant existing literature involving communities similar to yours. In addition, locate other organizations in your area that are focused on teen pregnancy prevention.
  • Ask the community. After you’ve identified existing research, let the community tell you what they need. You may conduct informal focus groups and one-on-one interviews to discover what members of the community perceive as problems. Also ask them what they feel are the strengths of their community. Are they ready for change?
  • Organize information.As you uncover your community’s needs, think about what you can realistically address with your time and budget. What factors would be the most amenable to change?

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Step 2: Goals to Outcomes

Now that you’ve gathered data, it’s important to set goals so you know where you’re headed. Goals are broad statements that illustrate what you want to accomplish in the long-term.

  • Example 1: The goal of [our organization] is to reduce teen pregnancy rates among 13 to 18 year olds in[county].
  • Example 2: The goal of [our organization] is to increase condom use among sexually active teen males in[county].

Next, you will determine what your program objectives are. Objectives are crucial to the planning process because they guide your decisions regarding the program’s future, AND will be the building blocks of your evaluation plan—more on evaluation later. Objectives are always SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

  • Example of a weak objective: To increase positive attitudes about contraceptives.
  • Rewritten as a SMART objective: To increase the frequency of condom use from 20% to 30% in 12months among youth aged 16-18 in the Henderson School District.
  • Example of a weak objective: To increase knowledge about HIV transmission among high school students in Richland County.
  • Rewritten as a SMART objective: To increase knowledge of HIV transmission by 30% among 14-18 year olds attending high school in Richland County in the next three months.

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Next: Program Planning