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This post is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its topic is project objectives. Its context is the United States of America.


Constructing a strong performance objective is one of the most important aspects of competitive grant seeking. A well-crafted objective is relatively short-term, concrete, ambitious, and attainable – and it is consistent with the applicant’s declared goals.




An applicant’s objectives ordinarily should:

  1. Reflect its own proposal-specific needs assessment or problem statement
  2. Be suitable for use as the basis of its proposal-specific evaluation plan
  3. Address significant aspects of the funder’s program goals and grant-making priorities
  4. Integrate measures such as Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) indicators (Example: SAMHSA GPRA Tools).


A well-structured objective will have several characteristics. It will be compatible with explicitly required program performance criteria. It also will be time-bound, measurable, quantifiable, conditional, directional, and significant.


Typically, the objective will:

  1. Include a time limit. Examples: ‘…at the end of each month…,’ ‘…at the end of the project period…,’ or ‘…at the end of each project year…’
  2. Define a desired increment of change. Example: A specific number or amount (N)… or a specific percentage (%)…
  3. Define a performance criterion. Examples: A specific number such as ‘(N) out of a total of…’ or… a specific percentage such as ‘(%) of a total of…’
  4. Include conditions or qualifiers. Examples: ‘…participating…’ or ‘…completing…’
  5. Indicate a desired direction of change. Examples: Use verbs like ‘…increase…’ or ‘…decrease…’ or ‘…reduce…’
  6. Allude to cause and effect. Example: Start an objective with: ‘…As a result of…’
  7. Allude to measurement instruments. Example: Introduce a measure to be used in an evaluation plan with: ‘…as measured by…’




An objective having these elements – if it were to be framed as an outcome objective – may have a structure resembling this:

…‘As a result of project activities, by the end of each project year 95% or more of participating middle school students will demonstrate statistically significant gains (p <.05) in proficiency in Mathematics, as measured by the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR).’



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