I work for a symphony and have a hard time writing measurable program outcomes

I work for a symphony and writing measurable objectives for grant proposals is difficult. One foundation asks for three objectives. Were giving away 500 tickets to community service organizations, so one objective is to increase participation by youth and disadvantaged community members by 500 for the season. What else can I measure? The conductor explains every piece prior to playing it, so I could address education. I included one objective stating that 10% (50) of those who use the 500 free tickets will continue to attend long-term, but that seems high to me. And how can I measure it?

Check out The Grantsmanship Center's publication on adapting the Program Planning & Proposal Writing model for the arts. That will provide some guidance.

Outcomes (or what you call objectives here) are measurable changes in conditions, behaviors, or attitudes. The first outcome you propose is specific and measurable.

You might also propose that following the performance, 75% (375) of those who use the tickets will increase their understanding of symphonic music; and that 75% will indicate that they would attend again if possible. To determine the degree to which these proposed outcomes are met, you might consider offering each person who uses a free ticket some small bonus or gift if they’ll complete a very simple survey (only 3 questions) after the performance.

The survey could ask questions such as:

1) Did your attendance result in increased understanding and knowledge about classical music?

2) Did you enjoy the performance?

3) If you had the opportunity to attend another performance, would you?

Talk to the funders to which you plan to submit grant requests. They may have ideas for reasonable and meaningful outcomes. Check out the National Endowment for the Arts website. The Endowment is very tuned into the issue of measurable outcomes.