Charitable objectives can vary depending upon a nonprofit organization's nature, location, size and other traits. Aims are generally a group's broad goals, while objectives are specific plans dedicated to achieving these goals. For example, a nonprofit might establish an objective of having an annual fundraiser to achieve the aim of providing money for medical research. Although every charity has slightly different aims and objectives, both aspects help charities establish the steps for carrying out their missions. By organizing their aims and objectives into actions, charities can more effectively serve the groups they set out to help.
Charities may be dedicated to one specific cause or a group of related causes. For example, a charity might aim to improve women's lives by ending rape and domestic violence. Such a charity's objectives might be to establish a crisis line, set up a shelter or educate women about how to stay safe. The majority of a charity's activities should be devoted to its aim. Charities that are not mission-focused or that spend lots of time on tangential causes are less effective at accomplishing their goals. Establishing a mission statement can help a charity define its aim, which will direct its shorter-term objectives. A charity's mission statement should be specific. For instance, a charity established to fight domestic violence might aim in its mission statement to reduce episodes of domestic violence in its area by a certain percentage or establish a domestic violence shelter.
Fundraising to Meet Goals
Charities need money to meet both long- and short-term goals. Fundraising is never an aim in itself because the funds always go toward the mission. Instead, fundraising is an objective that should have a specific purpose. For example, a charity that aims to end childhood hunger might have a fundraiser designed in order to provide free meals to local families. Charities can raise funds in many ways, such as soliciting donations, holding fundraising events or obtaining grants. Fundraising can take up a significant portion of a charity's time, so many charities employ full- or part-time fundraising experts to help them accomplish their financial goals.
Raising Awareness of Issues
Sometimes raising awareness about an issue is a crucial part of fixing the issue itself. Charities may aim to raise awareness in their mission statements, but also may enact policies to reach specific awareness objectives. For example, a charity that aims to raise awareness about a pet overpopulation problem might want to provide outreach to students in a local school, with the objective of compelling families to spay or neuter their pets. Charities can raise awareness in many ways, such as holding educational events, writing monthly newsletters or starting T-shirt or bumper sticker campaigns, for instance.
Evaluating Charity Objectives
Both charities and donors should regularly evaluate whether a charity is meeting its aims and objectives. For the charity itself, evaluating objectives can help it determine whether certain programs need to be altered or eliminated altogether. For donors, looking at the history of a charity and examining whether it's actually met mission goals can determine whether the charity is ethical, effective and warrants future donations. Grant awards often require a final report on the evaluation of outcomes. To evaluate a charity, compare its results with its mission statement, and examine whether it has achieved specific objectives and spent its resources wisely in doing so.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.