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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 C to I. Its context is the United States of America.


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 elements of a scoring rubric or proposal review form that reviewers or other 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 intentional 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.


EVALUATION: The analysis of the degree to which an applicant, as a grant recipient, implements its activities, achieves its objectives, and attains its goals, and an analysis of obstacles to progress and strategies used for overcoming them. Evaluation may be formative or summative. It may use qualitative or quantitative measures or both. It often describes both processes and outcomes. It states what will be done, who will do it with what and where, when and how often it will be done, and (often) why it will be done.


EVALUATION PLAN: An applicant’s proposed scheme, method, or program for collecting, measuring, analyzing, and reporting data about the progress and outcomes of a project or initiative, and for ascertaining, describing, and confirming the degree to which it has achieved its objectives and attained its goals.


FORMATIVE EVALUATION: Monitoring that occurs at set intervals during a project or initiative; it yields feedback that often leads to adjustments and corrective action during the course of that project or initiative. Also may be called Process Evaluation. Also see: Summative Evaluation.


FULL PROPOSAL: A complete proposal submitted to a grant maker for a review of its merits for subsequent grant funding. Also see: Preliminary Proposal.


GOAL: A desired long-term accomplishment or a general and desired direction of change, often stated in abstract or global terms. The goal normally reflects the mission of the applicant and/or the funding purposes of a specific grant maker. Also see: Objective.


GRANT SEEKER: An actual or potential applicant for a grant award.


IMPACT: A tangible or quantifiable long-term outcome of a grant-funded project or initiative, often framed in broad terms as a desirable or ideal condition or state of affairs and as a consequence or effect attributable to attaining one or more of its objectives.


IMPLEMENTATION: The process of doing the activities specifically described in a proposal and any others (e.g., fiscal management and performance monitoring) that are explicitly required by a funder or are deemed necessary, often implicitly as a matter of course, to the success of a project or initiative.


INDICATOR: A measure of the need for some aspect of a project or initiative. Alternatively, a measure of the direct outcomes and results of a project or initiative for its participants and for its intended beneficiaries; in this latter sense, it also may be called a Performance Measure or a Performance Indicator. Also see: Need.


INPUT: A tangible or quantifiable resource invested in the pursuit of the specific outcomes and impacts sought in a grant-funded project or initiative. Examples: Time, expertise, funding, personnel, supplies, facilities, and technologies.


A later post will cover entries in this Glossary with the initial letters J to O.



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