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A goal is a general or overall direction for a project or initiative, its ultimate destination. It specifies and prioritizes the long-term direction and extent of desired change in meeting an applicant’s documented needs. A goal is neither an objective (a specific increment of change) nor a strategy (a means or approach for accomplishing an objective). Goal statements form part of a Work Plan or Plan of Action.

A goal should say in broad, abstract, and ideal terms what ultimate state of affairs an applicant intends to reach. It should say who is expected to achieve or experience it (such as individuals or populations), or what is to be achieved (such as an event or a product).

Every goal implies a set of costs for obtaining one or more desired results – its scope and magnitude directly impact the budget and its credibility. Every goal also entails proposing one or more objectives whose accomplishment should contribute towards achieving that goal.

Example: ‘Within five years of initial funding, 95% of all five-year olds in Houston, Texas will start the first day of Kindergarten ready to learn.’

Formulating Goals:

In planning to formulate a goal in a proposal, several questions prove useful:

Purposes: How does your goal relate to the grant maker’s aims or purposes in awarding grants? Does your goal mirror the grant maker’s language about its aims or purposes for funding?

Needs: How does your goal relate to your identified needs? How does it relate to your problem statement?

Results: How does your goal relate to your expected results? Does it account for all of them or only some subset of them?

Components: How does your goal relate to the components in your program design? Do you have a goal for each component? Are your goals independent of your program design components?

Activities: How does your goal relate to your proposed activities? Can these activities lead to achieving it within the desired timeframe?

Evaluation: How will you measure achievement of your goal? How will you measure and report progress in achieving it?

Priorities: if your goal is one of several, what priority does it have? Is this particular goal subordinate to other goals? Is it in fact the overarching goal for your project or initiative?

Costs: How much will it cost to accomplish your goal within the desired timeframe? Is it possible to achieve your goal within the total available budget?

This post is one in a series about questions useful in planning competitive grant proposals.

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