This post is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its topic is project goals. Its context is the United States of America.
Having clearly stated project goals is critical in competing for grants. Well-formulated goals drive project planning. The same goals also drive project implementation. Typically, the goal statements that help applicants to win grants are relatively long-term, abstract, ambitious, and ultimately attainable. They also clearly relate to and underpin a specific proposal’s declared objectives.
In formulating goals, an applicant should:
- Use them as the ultimate rationale for its proposal-specific objectives and activities
- Reflect its own proposal-specific needs assessment or problem statement
- Verify that the funder’s program-specific goals are compatible with its own goals
- Mirror or resonate with the grant maker’s funding priorities, goals, and long-term vision (Example: Environmental Education Local Grants Program RFP 2016)
A well-articulated goal should be compatible with the funder’s declared overarching goals and its program-specific review criteria. It should also be time-bound, quantifiable, abstract, and significant.
Typically, a goal will:
- Include a time frame. Examples: ‘…by the end of the funding period…’ or ‘…by the end of five years…’ or ‘…after completing the proposed project…’or ‘…by September 30, 2021…’
- Define a performance criterion. Examples: A specific number (N): ‘a total of (N)…’ or… a specific percentage (%): ‘a ratio (%) of…’
- Suggest a final state of accomplishment. Examples: Use verbs like ‘…will have increased…’ or ‘…will have reduced…’ or ‘…will have created…’ or ‘…will have implemented…’
- Allude to cause and effect. Example: Start a goal with: ‘…As a result of…’
A goal statement having these four elements may have a structure resembling this:
…‘As a result of project activities, by September 30, 2021, 90% or more of participating middle school students each year will meet or exceed State proficiency standards in Environmental Education.’
Goals are considerably more open-ended or general than objectives. Applicants are less likely to be expected to measure the attainment of goals, except by proxy through measuring the proposed objectives that should lead to accomplishing those goals.