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The vocabulary of proposal development is part of the language required for writing a winning grant proposal. Revised and expanded in mid-2016, this set of entries covers words and phrases from A to C. Its context is the United States of America.


ACTIVITY: A step or action taken to achieve one or more project objectives. Often many steps or actions are necessary to achieve each objective in a project or initiative. 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. Also see: Objective.


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


APPLICANT: The individual or organization seeking a grant and proposing to manage, expend, and account for expenditures and results 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 grant-funded project or an initiative aspires. Example: Becoming a nationally validated model program. Alternatively, an internal periodic target towards which a grant-funded 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 grant-funded 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: Lower dropout rates or longer life expectancy.


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. Also see: Mission and Vision.


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.


A later post will cover entries in this Glossary with the initial letters C to I.



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