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Data drive the lives of grant proposals from cradle to grave. For better or worse, they do so in assessing needs, again in articulating objectives, and yet again in developing evaluation plans.


Performance Indicators

One defining aspect of an objective is its performance indicator or criterion for success. For each indicator a grant recipient must collect, analyze, and report data that measure the degree to which a criterion is being met or has been met.


In formulating objectives in a grant proposal, selection of any given performance indicator should occur only after a careful consideration of alternatives. Each alternative affects the entire evaluation and influences its usefulness to end-users.


Among useful questions that proposal planners should ask for each performance indicator are:



  • What data do you need in order to measure it?
  • Does it permit you to use existing sources of data?
  • Does it require you to generate new sources of data?
  • Is an appropriate instrument available to generate such data?
  • Must you create a new instrument to generate data?



  • Is it practical to create a new instrument in terms of time?
  • Is it practical to do so in terms of cost?
  • Is it practical to do so in terms of available staff expertise?
  • Is it practical to do so in terms of logistics?



  • When will you collect data?
  • Will you collect data only before and after the project?
  • How often will you collect data during the project?
  • How long after the project ends will you continue to collect data?



  • How will you collect data?
  • Will you use an experimental or quasi-experimental design?
  • Will you use pre/post assessments?
  • Will you develop your own instruments (e.g., surveys, questionnaires)?
  • Will you conduct interviews?
  • How will you ensure each instrument is fit for its intended purpose?



  • Who will gather the data?
  • Will you hire an external evaluator?
  • What skills and expertise must the evaluator have?
  • What will it cost to use an evaluator?
  • Who will analyze and interpret the data?



  • Who are your audiences for the data?
  • What do these audiences need to know?
  • Who will report the data?
  • How will report recipients use the reported data?



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