October 20, 2022
Activities into Outcomes: 5 Steps for Planning and Evaluation
Fishhook has put together 5 steps to help you create momentum by setting goals, leveraging data and learning throughout the process.
What is your church’s current strategy for evaluating if events, programs or communications were considered successful? Do you have goals in each of these different areas to determine what success looks like? If your answer to either of those questions was, “No” then let’s talk more about it!
At Fishhook, we believe facts are friends! Numbers represent people and each person needs the hope and help Jesus offers us. So, it’s important to use numbers when evaluating programs, events and marketing campaigns. And while we definitely recommend collecting data, acting on it is what truly matters.
Now, let’s take a look at 5 steps you can follow to evaluate what you have done or are currently doing, and how you can apply those lessons in the future.
Step 1: Identify the opportunity
Before planning your next event or communications campaign, it’s best to stop and identify the opportunity you are hoping to capitalize on. This first step gives your action a purpose and a strategy behind it.
Example: You have identified that there are many new adult guests attending your church. You use this opportunity to start a new small group push to help them find connection and community.
Step 2: Review the information you already have.
After you’ve identified your opportunity, you should review any information or data you can pull that connects. Reviewing this information better educates those involved in the planning process as to what baseline you are starting from. If this step is skipped, you would not be able to properly identify if the problem was solved or if the opportunity was there.
Example: You currently have 310 adults in small groups, with another 190 adults considered to be new guests or guests not currently engaged with a small group. So, your baseline of guests in small groups is 62%, with 38% not yet placed in a group.
Step 3: Establish a trackable and achievable goal.
Now that you have identified your opportunity and have gathered the information surrounding it, you have what you need to set a goal for the new activity, program or marketing push. The most important part of establishing your goal is that you can track your progress toward it—if you can’t, then how will you know if it has been achieved?
Your goal should also be achievable. It is unfortunately highly unrealistic that every single member of your congregation will engage in your new program, so don’t make that your goal. Use the information you gather in Step 2 to set a goal that is realistic for you.
Example: For the new groups push, we’ve reviewed the data and decided to set a goal for 75% of adult guests to be a part of a small group. While that number may seem high, we know that 62% of adults are already in a group and that means only 65 adults need to join to meet our goal.
Step 4: Make a plan to collect and monitor data.
Now that you’ve established your goal, let’s track it and see how it goes. Make sure you have a system in place to track the data in support of your goal. You could use a variety of tools to do so, such as a church database system, software program, or good old fashion paper and pencil (although we don’t recommend this particular tool). The important thing is that you are able to track progress from the baseline of where you started.
Example: During this time, we’ll be tracking how many adults join a group during the month-long push to monitor our progress and adjust our tactics as needed along the way. We’re using a spreadsheet to compare our baseline data (number of adults in groups at the start of the month) to each Sunday after that until the end of the month. At the end of the month, our small group push will conclude and our numbers will be final at that time.
Step 5: Verify if your goal was met and what the data says.
The final step should be completed after your event, program or marketing push has ended. Now, you can review the data you tracked to see what happened. Did you meet your goal? If so, congrats! If not, how off were you? In some cases, the goal you set might not have been realistic at the time, or perhaps something else interrupted your plans.
Perhaps you saw great momentum at first, but it trailed off in the final stages. Why do you think that was? It’s good to ask questions and reference the data you tracked for answers. Either way, you sure learned a lot over the course of these steps that can be applied to any future program or marketing push you consider.
Example: After 4 weeks, we fell just short of our goal of 75% of adults being in a small group. We saw great growth the first 2 weeks of our marketing push (group membership went from 62 to 68%), but then the numbers plateaued (we finished at 70%). We realized that we didn’t change our marketing tactics much the final 2 weeks, and those that were interested already signed up. Next time, we’ll explore a few new tactics to keep the messaging fresh and the audience engaged in our efforts.
Try it and see how it goes!
While this exact step-by-step process might not work for every process at your church, it hopefully gives you a frame of reference to operate from. Using data to think more strategically will help you transform your activities into outcomes, leading to growth and connection in your church.