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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 J to O. Its context is the United States of America.


JUSTIFICATION: A brief rationale or explanation of aspects of a project or initiative – particularly of some elements, or occasionally all elements, in its itemized budget – that may raise questions or objections in the minds of proposal reviewers or grant makers or that may benefit in some other way from a more detailed elaboration.


LOGIC MODEL: A schematic or graphical representation, often presented as a flow chart or as a table, which shows how inputs and activities interact and lead to outputs, outcomes, and impacts. Example: A table that presents goals, objectives, key activities, key personnel, evaluation measures, a timeline, and costs – all in one synoptic document.


KEY PERSONNEL: The persons or positions critical to the success of a project or initiative. Examples: Project Directors or Principal Investigators. Key personnel may include those paid with non-grant funds as well as those paid with grant funds. Examples: Classroom Teachers or Clinicians.


MANAGEMENT PLAN: An applicant’s proposed scheme, method, or program for deploying its key personnel and for ensuring that it uses its fiscal and programmatic resources in ways consistent with its funded proposal; the plan often includes an illustrative organizational chart. Also see: Organizational Chart.


MILESTONE: A discrete event or specific accomplishment used to measure the progress or momentum of a project or initiative towards implementing its activities, achieving its objectives, and attaining its goals. Also see: Benchmark.


MISSION: A succinct statement of why, for whom, and what an applicant does in order to lead to a desired mid-term or long-term future state of affairs. In a proposal, an applicant commonly links its organizational mission to its Work Plan. Also see: Vision.


NARRATIVE: The body of an application or a proposal describing what is to be done, how it is to be done, why it is to be done, who is to do it and where, when and how often it is to be done, at what cost it is to be done, who will ensure that it gets done, who will measure its success, and how that success will be measured and reported.


NEED: A definable and often quantifiable situation or trend, usually perceived as negative or undesirable, that an applicant proposes to address in its project or initiative. Applicants’ descriptions of need must avoid circular reasoning (e.g., the mere absence of a resource does not prove the presence of a need) and must avoid presenting needs beyond the capacity of a single grant to improve or eliminate. Also see: Problem.


NEEDS ASSESSMENT: A narrative review of a condition or state of affairs that an applicant seeks to change with the assistance of the resources afforded by a grant award. It is often presented with abundant descriptive ad comparative data. Also see: Problem Statement.


OBJECTIVE: A time-bound statement, framed in specific and measurable terms, of what an applicant is going to accomplish during a project or initiative; it advances the project or initiative towards attaining its goal or goals. Objectives are indispensable and critical elements in a Work Plan or a Plan of Action or a Program Design. Example: Each project year, 90% or more of project participants will demonstrate statistically significant gains (p < .05) in English literacy, as measured by state-mandated assessments. Also see: Activity.


ORGANIZATION: A generic and non-technical term for a legally established entity that is eligible to seek, manage, and expend a grant award, either alone or in a partnership with one or more other organizations or individuals or both.


ORGANIZATIONAL CHART: A graphic device depicting the staff positions involved in a project or initiative, the flow of communication between and among them, and their connections to other key staff in an organization or a partnership. Many of the positions may be paid using funds other than those of the grant being sought. Also see: Management Plan.


ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY: A brief chronological summation or narrative account of the primary milestones, accomplishments, and unique attributes of an organization.


A later post will cover Glossary entries starting with letters O to P.



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