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The vocabulary of project development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This set of entries covers words and phrases from A-D.

ACTIVITY: A step or action taken to achieve one or more project objectives. Often many steps or actions are necessary to achieve each objective. An activity can occur just once or any number of times; it can be singular or it can be part of a series or sequence of related activities.

ADMINISTRATOR: The person or office responsible (1) for leading or guiding the implementation of a project or initiative, (2) for monitoring the overall progress and performance of a project or initiative, and/or (3) for taking corrective actions to keep a project or initiative on track and on budget whenever necessary.

APPLICANT: The individual or organization seeking a grant and proposing to manage, expend, and account for expenditures of grant funds if they are awarded.

ASSESSMENT: A formal or informal measurement of the status of one or more issues of interest to an individual or organization, or the means or instrument used to measure the status of one or more such issues. Often an assessment is repeated at a regular interval, e.g., each year.

BENCHMARK: An external frame of reference or a state of affairs used as a source or basis of comparison and as a target towards which a project or an initiative aspires. Example: A nationally validated model program. Alternatively, an internal periodic target towards which a project or initiative aspires. Example: Yearly increments of 10% improvement over the baseline performance on some measure in a multiyear project.

BENEFICIARY: A person, or class of persons, intended to experience improvements or to benefit, either directly or indirectly, from a project or initiative. Also see: Participant and Target Population.

BENEFIT: A measurable change in a person or class of persons observed as a direct or indirect consequence of a project or initiative. Examples: Higher reading scores. Lower dropout rates.

CAPABILITY: The ability of an organization or individual to bring to bear specific resources, to do specific tasks, or to obtain desired results – often within a defined time-span – such as those resources or tasks or results described in the Work Plan or elsewhere in a grant proposal.

CAPACITY: The ability or competence of an applicant and its partners, if any, to implement its activities, to achieve its objectives, to accomplish its goals, and to advance its vision or mission. Alternatively, an ability or competence, created as a consequence of a grant award, to perform later tasks or activities similar to those performed during a grant period.

COLLABORATION: The processes of implementing shared goals, joint leadership, and shared responsibility and accountability, and of accruing shared resources and benefits during a project or initiative; often they are described as part of a Management Plan. Also see: Management Plan.

COMMITMENT: A measure of an applicant’s or a partnership’s investment of its own limited financial and programmatic resources in undertaking a project or initiative proposed for grant funding.

CONCEPT: A description of the overall vision and rationale underlying a project or initiative, or one of the detailed plans for making it happen within a defined timeframe; organizations often submit a concept to a potential private funder in a “concept paper.”

CONSTITUENT: A beneficiary, a client, or a participant in a project or initiative. Examples: a college student; an infant; a refugee; a family living in poverty; a first grader.

CONTINUATION: A plan to sustain some or all aspects of a project or initiative after initial grant funding ends. Alternatively, a grant award made for any defined period after a project’s initial funding period. Also see: Sustainability.

CRITERIA: The guidelines, standards, or scoring rubric that decision makers use to rate and rank a proposal submitted to a grant maker; also may be called selection criteria or review criteria.

DISSEMINATION: The process of sharing a project’s strategies and results with its target audiences. It expands the original project’s impact, informs stakeholders of its significance and accomplishments, and builds awareness and support for its continuation by other means after initial grant funding ends.

A later post will cover entries in this glossary with the initial letters E-N.

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