A Simple Exercise to Prioritize Projects at Your Shelter or Rescue  

Are you a shelter or rescue with more annual goals than it is humanly possible to complete? Do you leave every Board meeting with a list of new improvement ideas you have to research and then make happen? If you answered yes, read on. The impact-effort matrix is a simple tool that can help. 

What is it?

​​The impact-effort matrix is a four-square grid that is used to guide decision-making. Possible actions are mapped on to the grid based on two factors: the effort required to implement it and the potential impact.

Where do I get one?

You can draw the grid on a piece of paper, a whiteboard, or even over Zoom. If templates are your thing, we’ve created this free one for you to print and use!

How do I use it?  

  1. Print your template. 
  2. Under “Ideas List,” write all the projects that your organization has on its “to do” list (Pro tip: if you write on mini sticky notes, you can move them around without having to rewrite).   
  3. Considering one project at a time, estimate which box each fits into. If you have more than one project in a box, try to order them in comparison to one another. 
  4. Review your results!
    1. What projects are in the High Impact/Low Effort section? (upper left) Do these first! These are your quick wins.  
    2. What projects are in the Low Impact/High Effort section? (bottom right) Don’t do these! The results are not worth the effort. 
    3. What is listed as Low Effort/Low Impact? (bottom left) These low stakes projects can be good filler activities once the quick wins are complete. 
    4. What about High Effort/High Impact? (upper right) These resource-intensive projects are intense. Think capital improvements or an annual gala. If your organization decides to tackle one of these, remember that it will probably limit your ability to do other projects.