Charting a Course toward Impact: Measuring Costs and Prioritizing Goals

In Part 2 of blog contributor Ian Harvey’s three-part series, Charting a Course toward Impact, Ian walks us through quantifying the costs of achieving our goals and then prioritizing them.  If you’re still at the goal-setting stage, refer back to Part 1!

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At this point, you have given some thought to your Values and started formulating your Goals.  The next piece requires you understand how much the goals will cost, and in which order they should be completed.   Again, your goals should be in service of your overarching mission and SMART!  

When fundraising, it will be important to be able to express to a donor exactly what their dollars will support.  You will share your mission and vision, supported by your value system, and accomplished through clearly defined goals.  Separately but just as important, you will need to consider how much you need to raise today and in following years to accomplish the goals you have set forth.  Let’s get started: 

How much will things cost? 

On a separate piece of paper, write your goals down and give some thought to the expenses required to accomplish them.

  • If you haven’t already, determine who will be accomplishing these goals.  Are they volunteers?  

    • If so, you may want to attempt quantifying the time required per week to accomplish the goals and set expectations.  Volunteers only have so much time and while your organization is highly important, they have other obligations to juggle. 

    • If you are contracting out some work, do some due diligence into how much that time will cost.  

  • Will you need to create any products or finance the purchase of product to deliver to your targeted recipient? 

  • Is there any legal work required? 

  • Do you have technology needs?  Perhaps you need financing for a more robust software. 

  • Will you likely need to hire a full-time employee for your organization? 

  • Are there any travel costs required to complete your mission? 

  • What other costs can you foresee? 

Write these costs down and take note of the relative cost to each goal.  Now that we are aware of the costs, you should take some time to prioritize these goals.  


Given the goals you have set, their cost, and relative time to completion, which are the highest priority right now?  You may have some longer-term goals that have pre-requisite goals to ensure long-term success. Those pre-requisite goals should be prioritized first.  

Once prioritized, create a system of tracking these goals; Excel works well here.  List your goals out in the first column and in the next column, list how you are measuring success.  Success can be measured in a variety of different ways depending on the goal. For example: 

  • You might count how many widgets you have supplied to your targeted audience, 

  • Perhaps you have a fundraising target that sets into motion longer-term goals; or

  • Maybe you are tracking participation in a specific activity to demonstrate success.  

However you define success, be sure you are tracking so that you can 1) demonstrate success to current/future donors, as well as yourselves, and 2) complete your next set of goals!  As we discussed last time, be sure to revisit these goals and your progress about twice a year. Next time, we will consider the moment when you raise more than enough funds to support your goals and the next evolution of your organization is approaching: fundraising, planning for outflows, and considering ‘should you invest donor funds?’ 

Ian seized the opportunity to join Financial Asset Management Corporation in 2018, which allowed him to continue enhancing the services he could offer his own clients as well as become an integral part of growing the business processes and strategy for the firm.


Prior to joining FAM, Ian served as financial planning associate at Rockwood Wealth Management for three years before joining Sontag Advisory in 2015, where he was promoted to an advisory position. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Virginia Tech’s Pamplin School of Business in 2012 in their CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP®) Certification Education Track and went on to complete his CFP® certification in 2014.


Ian’s passion for financial planning extends beyond the work he does with his clients and right on through to advancing the future of the financial planning profession itself. He was co-founder of the Financial Planning Association’s (FPA) Student Chapter at Virginia Tech, which grew to be the largest student organization in the country in its first year.  Post-graduation, Ian served as the Local Leader Liaison to FPA’s NexGen community and now serves as the community’s chair. Ian believes his volunteer work helping to advance the next generation of financial planners serves to the benefit of the future of the profession, and therefore, the clients they serve. It is this dedication to the profession and his clients that Investment News recognized Ian in their 2018 “40 under 40” list of financial advice industry leaders.


In his free time, Ian enjoys exploring New York City with his partner Emily - they especially enjoy classic cocktails in classic venues and all that is available under the sleepless lights of the city.