Skip navigation

Tag Archives: glossary

The vocabulary of budget development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This final set of entries covers words and phrases from R-Z.

RECIPIENT: An individual or organization that will receive a grant or has received a grant.

REGULATIONS: Administrative guidelines for government grants, issued after enabling legislation, which establish and define eligible applicants; eligible beneficiaries; the nature of activities to be funded; allowable costs; selection criteria for proposal review; and other requirements. Example: At are found the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR).

REPLICABILITY: The proven or predicted ability of a project’s effective activities and strategies to be transportable to another setting and to generate similar results in it; it is a factor in considering the potential impact of an initial grant award and is a criterion often associated with grant programs that fund demonstration projects. Also see: Demonstration Grant.

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP): A formal invitation to apply for a grant that describes what types of applicants are eligible to apply; when proposals are due; the program selection criteria; the contents required in a complete proposal; anticipated levels and durations of funding; and other considerations. The specific length and contents of an RFP vary widely from one grant program and one solicitation to another. Also may be called: request for applications (RFA).

RESTRICTED FUNDS: Funds that a grant recipient may use only for predetermined purposes – such as those defined in the approved budget of a funded grant proposal – and that consequently it cannot expend as general funds.

REVIEW PANEL: A group of peers or experts retained by a grant-maker to evaluate the merits of grant proposals in a grant competition and to recommend which ones should be funded. Sometimes the reviewers may include one or more directors or trustees of a foundation.

SALARIES: The compensation of professional and technical personnel – who are typically limited only to those holding a post-secondary degree – before the addition of fringe benefits.

SEED MONEY: A grant award intended to help start a new project or initiative or to launch a new non-profit organization.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The formal set of factors a grant-maker uses in scoring and ranking a set of competitive proposals to determine which ones it will select for funding. Also may be called: criteria or review criteria.

SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT (SPOC): A person in state government whom an applicant must inform when it is applying for a federal grant in the US. A list of single points of contact is at Some states have a SPOC, others don’t.

SOFT FUNDS: The funding of staff positions or other resources using grant funds rather than other means such as revenues from tax levies; it reflects the premise that such assets are not as secure, over the long term, as those funded using other means (e.g., annual tax levies). Also see: Hard Funds.

STANDARD FORM: A blank template that an applicant must complete and submit, as each specific program requires, with its application for a federal grant. A comprehensive collection of standard forms is at, but be certain to observe strictly the cautionary guidance available at this site.

SUB-GRANTEE: A lower-tier recipient (e.g., a county agency) of grant funds from a higher-tier recipient of those funds (e.g., a state agency) and not directly from the grant maker; also called a sub-recipient. Also see: Grantee.

SUPPLANTING: A deliberate shifting or displacement in the source of funds (e.g., state or local) used to afford a given resource (e.g., personnel) in an organization because of the availability of federal grant funds after a new grant award. One caveat in many government grant programs is “Do not supplant.”

SUPPLIES: A cost category for consumable resources such as paper, pens, pencils, postage, folders, files, binders, paperclips, toner, blank data storage media, and similar office products. Definitions and thresholds for value of the discrete items vary widely across grant programs and funding agencies. Also see: Materials.

SUSTAINABILITY: A measure of the perceived likelihood that an applicant (and its partners, if any) will be able to obtain and use funding (and other resources) from itself and/or other sources to continue its proposed project or initiative after its initial grant funding ends. Grant-makers of all types often favor proposals that exhibit a high potential for sustainability.

TRAVEL: A cost category for costs associated with going place-to-place, including fares (air, bus, train, taxi, or shuttle), vehicle rentals or leases, mileage, tolls, meals, tips, and lodging. Every item assigned to this category must be clearly defined and well justified.

UNIFORM APPLICATION FORMS: The standard forms that applicants must complete and submit with applications for federal grants; several of them require specific or detailed budget information. Examples: SF-424 and SF-524. In federal programs, these are associated with specific grant opportunities posted on

UNRESTRICTED FUNDS: Funds from a grant or any other source that an organization may use for any legal purpose, such as general funds or operating funds.

WAGES: The hourly compensation of non-professional personnel – typically all of those who do not hold a post-secondary degree – before the addition of fringe benefits, if any.

Later posts will tackle types and sources of data used in winning grant proposals.


The vocabulary of budget development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This set of entries covers words and phrases from M-P.

MATCHING FUNDS: The share of a proposed project’s total costs, which comes from any source other than the specific grant being sought; the matching funds may consist of the fair market value of donated resources (in-kind contributions) or of actual cash to be spent (cash) or of both. See the table for examples when an applicant is requesting a $200,000 grant.

Calculating Matching Funds
Match Required Grant-Maker Share Local Share Total Budget
50% Match = 1:1 $200,000 grant $200,000 local     $400,000
33% Match = 2:1 $200,000 grant $100,000 local     $300,000
25% Match = 3:1 $200,000 grant $66,700 local     $266,700
20% Match = 4:1 $200,000 grant $50,000 local     $250,000
10% Match = 9:1 $200,000 grant $22,500 local     $222,500


MATCHING GRANT: A grant awarded to an applicant with the intention of matching some of the funds (i.e., as a partial match) or all of the funds (i.e., as a total match) awarded to an applicant by another source. Also see: Challenge Grant.

MATERIALS: A cost category for consumable resources such as media (books, workbooks, compact disks, videodisks, or software), references, and training products. The category is often conjoined with Supplies or is subsumed as a part of Supplies. Also see: Supplies.

MULTIYEAR BUDGET: A budget covering all or part of two or more consecutive fiscal or calendar years. Many grant-makers require a budget for an entire multiyear project period at the time of the original application.

NON-COMPETITIVE GRANT: A funding program from which applicants are eligible for a grant award if they complete and submit required materials by a given deadline. Also may be called: a formula grant, an entitlement grant, an allocative grant, or a budget earmark.

NOVICE APPLICANT: An individual or an organization that has not received a discretionary grant directly from a specified unit or level of government (e.g., a federal agency) or from a specified grant program within a defined time-span (e.g., the last five fiscal years).

OTHER: A cost category commonly used in state and federal grant programs for budget items that do not fit other categories. Every item assigned to this category should be as clearly defined and well justified as every other item in a proposed budget. Avoid using this cost category for budget line items vaguely identified as “contingency” or as “miscellaneous.

OVERHEAD: See Indirect Costs.

PASS-THROUGH: A scheme for the distribution of funding where a first tier of grant recipients (e.g., state agencies) administers a grant program, awards sub-grants to a second tier of eligible applicants (e.g., school districts); and performs a yearly program audit of the second-tier grant recipients. Also may be called: flow-through funding.

PERSONNEL: A cost category for the human resources or labor, internal to the applicant as an organization, who will be involved in implementing a project; it includes positions paid in salaries and those paid in wages, and it excludes all independent contractors (e.g., evaluators and other consultants). Personnel may or may not be paid out of a proposed grant budget.

PRIVATE FOUNDATION: A legally defined type of nonprofit organization whose directors or trustees conduct charitable programs for social, cultural, educational, religious, or other permissible purposes.

PROGRAM OFFICE: An administrative unit, within a grant-making organization, that implements or coordinates the details of conducting a grant program, including the review and ranking of applications.

PROGRAM OFFICER: An administrator on the staff of a grant-making organization who runs a specific grant program, manages grant competitions, and provides technical assistance either to potential grant applicants or to existing grant recipients or to both.

PROJECT: The proposed plan for which an applicant requests grant funds.

PROJECT INCOME: The revenue an applicant’s project is expected to generate during a given time-span; it may include products sold, membership dues, service fees, earned interest, and funds raised by other means. It may also be called: program income or revenue.

PROJECT PERIOD: The total time for which support of a discretionary project has been approved; it is usually a series of one-year budget periods. Most project periods last one to five years; some may be longer, others may be shorter. Also see: Budget Period and Grant Period.

PROPOSAL: A written application of vastly varying length and content, submitted to one or more grant makers, describing a plan or initiative to meet one or more identified needs, and requesting partial or full funding for its support. Some grant-makers and grant programs require much more formal, detailed, and highly structured proposals – narratives and budgets – than do others. Also may be called an application or a funding request.

A later post will cover entries in this glossary starting with letters R-Z.

The vocabulary of budget development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This set of entries covers words and phrases from H-M.

HARD FUNDS: The funding of staff positions or other resources using annual tax levies or similarly predictable and renewable revenues rather than by grant funds; its character reflects the premise that such assets are more secure, over the long term, than those funded using grant funds. Also see: Soft Funds.

IN-KIND CONTRIBUTION: A non-cash donation of labor (paid staff or unpaid volunteer), facilities, equipment, materials, or supplies to carry out a project. Applicants for grants must exercise extraordinary care in calculating the cash value of in-kind contributions and in identifying, tracking, and reporting the sources of such contributions. Also see: Matching Funds.

INDIRECT COSTS (IDC): A cost category for costs that are not readily allocable to or identifiable with operating a specific grant program; it is also often called overhead. Indirect costs = direct costs x approved indirect cost rate. Such costs commonly relate to administration and facilities. Generally, a government grant-maker reimburses indirect costs only after it has negotiated and approved an indirect cost rate with the grant recipient. As grant-makers, foundations are less apt to allow full or partial recovery of an organization’s indirect costs than are units of government. Also see: Direct Costs.

INDIRECT COST RATE: An annually revised percentage established by a unit of government for a grant recipient that the recipient uses in computing the amount it charges to a grant to reimburse itself for indirect costs it incurs in doing the work of the grant-funded project. A foundation grant-maker also may solicit and approve an applicant’s proposed indirect cost rate before it considers a proposal from it or awards a grant to it.

INVITATIONAL PRIORITY: An area of special focus which a grant-maker would prefer to see an applicant address in its proposal, but which does not affect the review, rating, or rank ordering of proposals.

LEAD AGENCY (Applicant): The organization that submits a proposal on behalf of a partnership of two or more organizations and that serves as the grant recipient. If funded, the lead agency is legally responsible for implementing and administering its funded project, for properly managing all grant funds, and for submitting all required reports.

LEAD AGENCY (Grant Maker): Particularly in federal grant making, the agency or program office with the primary responsibility for approving or funding a project; it reviews the proposals, coordinates with other involved agencies, and notifies the applicant of its funding outcome.

LETTER OF COMMITMENT: A brief official letter that conveys the willingness of a partner organization to commit cash or other resources to a proposed project; it specifies the terms and conditions of the commitment, the precise resources to be offered or delivered, and the actual or estimated values of those resources. Also see: Letter of Support.

LETTER OF INQUIRY (LOI): A brief, but formal, mode of grant application, typically one to five pages long, often used when an applicant seeks a grant from a foundation; it commonly includes an introduction, a problem statement, objectives and activities, an evaluation plan, an organizational capacity statement, and a budget. The letter of inquiry often forms a basis for deciding whether the foundation will request a full proposal from an applicant. Informally, also known as an LOI.

LETTER OF INTENT: A brief official letter or e-mail (or other specified form of notification) from a potential applicant to a grant-maker that conveys its intention to apply for funding. The grant-maker may request or require the letter of intent to gauge the number of applicants likely to be competing for funding in a given grant program. Alternatively, some grant-makers may use the term as a synonym for letter of inquiry.

LETTER OF SUPPORT: A brief official letter that conveys the enthusiasm, endorsement, and encouragement of an individual or an organization for an applicant’s proposed grant project and for its request for funding, but does not explicitly commit resources to it. Also see: Letter of Commitment.

LEVEL FUNDING: An amount of grant funding that does not change from year to year during a multiyear grant.

LEVERAGING: A measure of the potential role that a given grant award is likely to have in attracting other funding or resources to a proposed project or initiative. As the specific grant-maker requires, an applicant may present either a ratio of requested grant funds to total project funds or a ratio of requested grant funds to funds from other sources.

MARKET VALUE: The economic value of a resource (e.g., volunteer labor at minimum wage) as determined up to the date and time an applicant submits a proposal (e.g., the wage rate in effect on or before that date); often, an applicant determines market value by checking an official government publication or website or by reviewing a grant program’s regulations.

A later post will cover entries in this glossary starting with letters M–P.

The vocabulary of budget development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This set of entries covers words and phrases from F-G.

FAMILY FOUNDATION: An independent, private foundation that the members of a single family fund and maintain. Example: Davis Family Foundation at

FEDERATED GIVING PROGRAM: A collaborative fundraising effort usually administered by a supervising nonprofit organization that in turn distributes the funds generated through that effort as grants to other nonprofit organizations. Example: United Way of Greater Houston at

FISCAL AGENT: An organization that has legal accountability for managing a grant award, for expending its funds, and for reporting on grant expenditures.

FISCAL SPONSOR: A third-party organization that agrees to serve as the fiscal agent for a grant on behalf of an applicant or a consortium of applicants; some grant-makers will permit use of a fiscal sponsor, others will not.

FISCAL YEAR (FY): A 12-month period at the end of which the financial accounts are closed for the organization in question. Common fiscal years are: October 1 through September 30 (federal), July 1 through June 30 (states), and January 1 through December 31 (foundations). Organization-wide financial audits commonly occur after the end of each fiscal year.

FORM 990-PF: A yearly Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form required of all private foundations (hence the -PF) that provides a public record of the financial status and grant-making activity of a private foundation. In some respects, Form 990-PF is the equivalent of an annual federal income tax return to be filed by private foundations

FORMULA GRANT: A non-competitive grant whose amount is established by applying a formula based upon criteria described in a law and amplified in its subsequent regulations, and awarded after a yearly formal application process; it may also called an entitlement grant or an allocative grant.

FRINGE BENEFITS: A cost category for non-salary and non-wage modes of staff compensation that accrue to those who qualify for them. Examples of typical fringe benefits are: health insurance, dental insurance, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, paid holidays, paid sick leave, paid personal leave, paid vacation days, and FICA (social security). Fringe benefits are usually calculated as percentages (%) of salaries or wages.

FULL TIME EQUIVALENT (FTE): The financial obligation for one full-time staff member. Two or more persons may split the position in the budget to add up to one full-time equivalent. FTE may be written as a percentage (abbreviated as % FTE) or as a specific number (N) of hours per week (abbreviated as N hrs/wk).

FUNDING CYCLE: A sequence of events that starts with a formal public notice that funds are available, and includes the deadline for submission of applications, the review of applications, the award of grants, the completion of contractual documents, and the release of funds; the same sequence may recur in subsequent years if funds are available.

FUNDING OFFER: A proposal by a grant maker, in oral or written form, to award a successful applicant an amount of funding that is less than it had requested; such an offer may occur when the grant-maker either does not allow certain proposed line items in an applicant’s budget or does not have enough funds to fund the project at the full amount requested.

FUNDING PRIORITIES: Project-related factors that grant-makers may use to award extra rating-points to otherwise-qualified applicants. Priorities may also include such non-project factors as geographic distribution of grant awards and the diversity of types of funded applicants. Many federal grant programs announce absolute priorities, competitive priorities, or invitational priorities in their requests for proposals. Also called funding preferences.

GENERAL GRANT: A grant designed to subsidize the organization-wide operating expenses of a worthy applicant rather than to provide support for a specific project or initiative. Also called an operating support grant or an operational grant. Example: Facility rent and utilities.

GRANT: An award of funding for an eligible recipient to do pre-defined activities using pre-defined resources over a pre-defined time-span to achieve pre-defined objectives and advance towards one or more pre-defined goals, but whose outcomes are less certain than those expected from a contract.

GRANT AGREEMENT: A legally binding and enforceable understanding entered into by a grant recipient with a grant maker; it is commonly based on an approved application made by the grant recipient and it commits the grant recipient to implement certain activities and pursue certain objectives, within a pre-defined time-span, for a specific amount of funding. By reference, it may incorporate other municipal or state or federal statutes and regulations beyond those enabling the grant program.

GRANTEE: The organization or individual that receives the grant funds and is responsible for implementing and administering the project and managing the grant funds; it is also called a grant recipient. Also see: Grantor and Sub-grantee.

GRANTOR: The organization (e.g., corporation, foundation, or governmental unit) that awards grants; it is also called the funder, the funding agency, or the grant maker. Also see: Grantee and Sub-grantee.

GRANT PERIOD: The total time-span for which a grant-maker has committed to funding a grant recipient; it may or may not last exactly as long as a budget period or a project period. Also see: Budget Period and Project Period.

GUIDELINES: The instructions that describe what the grant-maker wants to fund, what applications for funding must contain, how applications – including their budgets – must be prepared and submitted, and how proposals will be reviewed. Also see: Request for Proposals.

A later post will cover entries in this glossary starting with letters H –M.

The vocabulary of budget development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This set of entries covers words and phrases from C-E.

CONCEPT PAPER: A short variant of a full-length grant application, often only two or three pages long, that may be used or required for applicants seeking a corporate or foundation grant. At the least, it should include a problem statement, a program narrative, and a budget.

CONSTRUCTION: A cost category for the materials used in creating or modifying the facilities where some or all of a project’s activities will take place; by contrast, construction labor itself is a contractual budget line item. Some grant programs disallow construction line items.

CONTACT PERSON: A person or persons of whom a grant-maker may ask questions about the content, nature, and scope of an applicant’s proposal. Examples: The proposed Project Director or the applicant’s Executive Director.

CONTINUATION GRANT: A grant of additional funding awarded for one or more budget periods following the initial budget period of a multiyear discretionary grant; its award may require the applicant to demonstrate adequate progress during a current funding period.

CONTRACTUAL: A cost category for services to be provided by independent contractors in implementing a project. Contractors may be organizations or individuals. Such budget items may include: evaluators, trainers, consultants, partner subcontracts, and many other external providers of services; they may also include contracts for the rental or lease of facilities or equipment or similar resources.

CORPORATE GRANT: A charitable grant awards program funded by a for-profit business or corporation; it may be independent of the corporation and may have its own endowment. Example: Shell Oil Company offers several types of grants. Its website for US-based grants is at

COST CATEGORIES: The set of primary types of line items presented in a project budget. Common categories for government grants are: personnel, fringe benefits, contractual, travel, supplies, equipment, construction, other, and indirect costs. Categories for foundation grants are typically fewer; they may include as few categories as only personnel and non-personnel.

DEMONSTRATION GRANT: A grant designed to help an applicant to test, prove, or establish the feasibility or effectiveness of new approaches or new types of services in solving one or more defined problems or in addressing one or more defined needs.

DIRECT COSTS: Costs directly associated with operating a project and borne using funds from a grant maker. In government grants, direct costs commonly include: personnel (salaries, wages, and fringe benefits), consultants or contractual services, supplies and materials, equipment, travel, construction and renovation, and other. Foundation and corporate categories for allowable direct costs are typically fewer than government categories. Also see: Indirect Costs.

DISCRETIONARY GRANT: A grant awarded based on the judgment of, or at the option of, the grant-maker to a recipient selected after a competitive review. A discretionary grant program commonly involves a high ratio of applications to grant awards. In the foundation context, a discretionary grant may also be a grant awarded based on the judgment of, or at the option of, a member of its board or directors or trustees.

DUNS (DATA UNIVERSAL NUMBERING SYSTEM) NUMBER: A unique nine-digit identification number provided by Dun & Bradstreet (for free) and now required as an identifier for every applicant before it applies for a grant from the US federal government.

ELIGIBLE ACTIVITIES: A circumscribed set of activities for which applicants can propose to spend available grant funds; enabling state or federal legislation often explicitly defines them, and many public and private grant-makers also often define them in their application guidelines or on their websites.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: Specific defined types of organizations that may apply for funding from a specific grant program at a specific time. Types commonly include: non-profit organizations, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, institutions of higher education, and local educational agencies, among many others. Depending upon the specific grant-maker and the specific grant program, individuals also are often eligible to apply for grants.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Qualifying factors that a potential applicant must satisfy before it seeks a grant; often they pertain to the type of individual or organization as an applicant or to the persons or geographic area to benefit from a grant.

ENABLING LEGISLATION: A law, enacted at any level of government (e.g., county, state, federal), which creates and defines one or more grant programs.

ENDOWMENT FUND: An account of funds set up to be invested in perpetuity to provide income for the continuous support of a non-profit organization. Some foundations do award grants for endowments.

EQUIPMENT: A cost category for durable resources requested in a budget; generally, each discrete item of equipment lasts more than a defined period of time (e.g., one year or three years) and costs more than a defined minimum amount (e.g., $500 or $5,000). Definitions of equipment in terms of durability and minimum cost vary widely among grant makers. Also see: Supplies.

A later post will cover entries in this glossary starting with letters F-H.

The vocabulary of budget development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This set of entries covers words and phrases from A-C.

ABSOLUTE PRIORITY: An area of focus that a government grant-maker requires without exception as part of an applicant’s proposal, and that if it is absent prevents a proposal from being reviewed, scored, or ranked. It is one of three common types of government funding priority. Also see: Competitive Priority and Invitational Priority.

ACTIVITIES: Logical sequences of actions or steps to be undertaken to accomplish one or more project objectives by applying specific identified resources and strategies to solve a problem or to meet a need within a pre-defined span of time.

ALLOWABLE COSTS: The cost categories or discrete line items that a grant-maker permits or encourages an applicant to include as part of a proposed budget.

ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REPORT (APR): A yearly document that a grant recipient submits to a grant-maker, as required; commonly, it includes a description of project accomplishments, a statement of progress towards attaining project objectives, and project budget information.

APPLICANT: The organization or individual that seeks a grant by submitting a proposal (or an application) for funding. It will be legally responsible for properly managing the funding if a grant is awarded. Also see: Fiscal Agent.

APPLICATION: The total formal document or package that an applicant submits to a grant-maker. It describes a proposed project and its budget and it usually forms the basis for a grant award; often used as a synonym for proposal.

AWARD NOTIFICATION: A formal, written, physical document that a grant-maker typically mails to an applicant; it informs the applicant that it will receive a grant, and it indicates the amount of the grant award and the start and end dates of the grant period.

BUILDING RENOVATION GRANT: A grant of funds intended to be used to repair, renew, or construct one or more buildings or parts of buildings; informally, also called a bricks and mortar grant.

BUDGET: The total estimated cost of all project activities; alternatively a plan for expending funds in a grant award. A budget often may incorporate both revenues (also called income) and expenditures.

BUDGET ITEM: A single element in a proposed budget; it includes a brief description and an amount per project year. Also see: Line Item.

BUDGET JUSTIFICATION: A brief description or explanation defending items in a proposed budget, particularly all those items that reviewers may find questionable.

BUDGET NARRATIVE: Often used as another term for a budget justification, a budget narrative is a brief description or explanation of some or all of the items in a proposed budget.

BUDGET PERIOD: The time-span that any given budget covers, usually any twelve consecutive months, such as a grant-maker’s fiscal year. Also see: Grant Period and Project Period

CAPACITY: A measure of an applicant’s present and future ability to implement and sustain an initiative or project that it proposes for external grant funding

CAPACITY-BUILDING GRANT: A grant designed to create or expand an applicant’s ability to provide services, often of a magnitude and scope similar to those funded through a proposed grant, after that grant expires. Alternatively, a grant intended to create or expand an applicant’s ability to operate more effectively or more efficiently or more sustainably.

CATALOG OF FEDERAL DOMESTIC ASSISTANCE (CFDA): The compendium of all domestic grant programs and other forms of assistance for all federal agencies in the United States of America; its program descriptions provide critical information for potential applicants for federal grants. Its website is

CFDA NUMBER: A unique five-digit code for each federal funding program; it includes a unique two-digit prefix code for the specific federal agency, a dot or point, and a unique three-digit code for each specific funding program. Example: All grants from the United States Department of Education (USDE) are coded as 84.XXX.

CHALLENGE GRANT: A grant from a single source intended to lead to further grants from other sources by committing the grant-maker to award a grant only if the applicant raises the balance of funds from other sources within a certain time period.

COMMITMENT: A measure of an applicant’s present and future internal investment of its own resources, both cash and in-kind, in an initiative or project that it proposes for external grant funding.

COMMUNITY FOUNDATION: A charitable organization that awards grants in a specific community or geographic region. In general, community foundations receive funds from many donors, maintain them in multiple endowments, and use the endowments’ income to fund grant awards. Example: Maine Community Foundation at

COMPETITIVE GRANT: A grant program in which eligible applicants submit proposals, the grant-maker reviews, rates, and ranks the proposals, and the highest ranked proposals are funded down a list of applicants, usually until available funds are exhausted.

COMPETITIVE PRIORITY: An area of focus which a grant-maker would prefer to see as part of an applicant’s proposal; it may affect the rating or the rank ordering of proposals either by the award of additional scoring points or by its use as a tie-breaker.

A later post will cover entries in this glossary starting with letters C-F.

The vocabulary of project development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This set of entries covers words and phrases from P-Z.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: A method of continuously improving the knowledge, skills, and/or abilities of a defined group of participants; or a method of enhancing or increasing the formal qualifications or credentials of a defined group of participants. Participants in it often may include a project’s key personnel. Also may be called training or staff training or staff development.

PROGRAM DESIGN: A time-bounded plan for implementing a project including goals, objectives, activities, timeline, and strategies. Also called a Plan of Action or a Work Plan.

PROJECT: The specific proposed program or plan of action for which grant funds are being requested. A project has a definite start date and a definite end date, and it has an explicitly defined and time-bound set of desired outcomes.

PROJECT COORDINATOR: The person who manages and implements a project under the auspices or supervision of a project director or a similar administrator; coordination is often a desirable staff role when a project or initiative targets multiple sites or features multiple components or involves many partners. Also see: Project Director and Principal Investigator.

PROJECT DIRECTOR: The person who leads or directs a grant-funded project and ensures the project complies with all conditions and regulations, particularly in training, educational, and model demonstration projects. Also may be called a Project Manager. Also see: Principal investigator and Project Coordinator.

REPLICABILITY: A project’s ability or promise of being able to be transplanted to other settings and to yield similar or comparable impacts or outcomes or results in them.

RESEARCH: An organized effort to add to the existing knowledge base of an established or emerging discipline in the area of theory or application or both. Alternatively, the search for epistemologically valid and reliable evidence that implementing one or more of an applicant’s proposed activities or strategies is likely to yield the desired outcomes and benefits.

RESULT: A measurable consequence of implementing a project or initiative, but not necessarily the intended and anticipated focus of an objective or a goal. Examples: Improved school climate in an arts enrichment project; reduced arrests for certain property crimes in a graffiti abatement project.

STAFF: The person or persons who carry out a project using grant funds, and those who support it using other funds; also may be called Personnel. Also see: Personnel.

STAFFING PLAN: The scheme, method, or approach for deploying persons having appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities (or required qualifications and experience) to do the work of a project or initiative.

SUMMATIVE EVALUATION: The measurement of the extent or degree of success of a project or initiative; it offers conclusions about what worked (and what did not) and it makes recommendations about what to keep, what to change, and what to discontinue; it occurs at the end of each project year and after the grant-funded project ends. Also called Outcome Evaluation or Product Evaluation. Also see: Formative Evaluation.

TARGET POPULATION: The persons, groups, subgroups, or entities intended to participate in a project or initiative and/or to benefit from it. Applicants should exercise discretion and sensitivity in adopting the phrase in certain contexts (e.g., violence prevention). Also see: Beneficiary and Participant.

TEAM: A group of persons who work as a unit towards a common or shared purpose related to a project or initiative. A team may include persons paid with non-grant funds and persons affiliated with organizations other than the applicant or grant recipient. Also see: Partner.

TIMELINE: The detailed overall sequence, schedule, or timetable anticipated for implementing a project or initiative. It may present both discrete events and continuous processes. It also may include an illustrative chart or table. Also see: Milestone.

This post concludes a four-part series on Project Development. A series of later posts will present a Budget Development Glossary.

The vocabulary of project development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This set of entries covers words and phrases from O-P.

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 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.

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 and/or individuals.

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.

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

OUTCOME: The desired and intended quantitative or qualitative end result or consequence of a set of activities undertaken to achieve one or more objectives. Examples: 50% reduction in suspensions; 10% reduction in dropout rate; 25% increase in library holdings; 20% loss of body fat; 5% reduction in residential burglaries.

OUTPUT: A tangible or quantifiable product of an activity. Examples: Four new geography units; ten parental education workshops; six program newsletters; a training manual; a science kit.

PARTICIPANT: Someone directly and actively involved in a project or initiative as one who is served by it or who otherwise benefits from it. Examples: Science teachers; juvenile delinquents; English language learners; third graders; elderly residents.

PARTNER: An individual or organization that contributes resources to a grant-funded project or initiative, often by a formal and legally enforceable agreement delineating responsibilities and commitments between or among the entities involved in it.

PERSONNEL: The persons who provide the human labor to implement or support activities designed to achieve the objectives of a project or initiative. Some or many of the personnel, but seldom all, may be paid for out of grant funds. Also see: Staff.

PLAN OF ACTION: The specific series of activities or steps to be undertaken during a project or initiative, as well as its goals, objectives, timeline, personnel, and resources. Also called a Program Design or a Work Plan.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: The person who leads or directs a grant-funded research project, particularly in federally funded scientific or medical research grants; also known as a PI. Also see: Project Director.

PROBLEM: The specific reason for a project or initiative, which offers a promising solution to the problem. Example: A dropout rate higher than the state average. Applicants must avoid circular reasoning in defining problems. Example: A lack, an absence, a shortage, or a scarcity, in and of itself, is not a problem; however, one or more of its consequences or effects may be one. Also see: Need.

A later post will cover glossary entries starting with letters P-Z.

The vocabulary of project development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This set of entries covers words and phrases from A-D.

ACTIVITY: A step or action taken to achieve one or more project objectives. Often many steps or actions are necessary to achieve each objective. An activity can occur just once or any number of times; it can be singular or it can be part of a series or sequence of related activities.

ADMINISTRATOR: The person or office responsible (1) for leading or guiding the implementation of a project or initiative, (2) for monitoring the overall progress and performance of a project or initiative, and/or (3) for taking corrective actions to keep a project or initiative on track and on budget whenever necessary.

APPLICANT: The individual or organization seeking a grant and proposing to manage, expend, and account for expenditures of grant funds if they are awarded.

ASSESSMENT: A formal or informal measurement of the status of one or more issues of interest to an individual or organization, or the means or instrument used to measure the status of one or more such issues. Often an assessment is repeated at a regular interval, e.g., each year.

BENCHMARK: An external frame of reference or a state of affairs used as a source or basis of comparison and as a target towards which a project or an initiative aspires. Example: A nationally validated model program. Alternatively, an internal periodic target towards which a project or initiative aspires. Example: Yearly increments of 10% improvement over the baseline performance on some measure in a multiyear project.

BENEFICIARY: A person, or class of persons, intended to experience improvements or to benefit, either directly or indirectly, from a project or initiative. Also see: Participant and Target Population.

BENEFIT: A measurable change in a person or class of persons observed as a direct or indirect consequence of a project or initiative. Examples: Higher reading scores. Lower dropout rates.

CAPABILITY: The ability of an organization or individual to bring to bear specific resources, to do specific tasks, or to obtain desired results – often within a defined time-span – such as those resources or tasks or results described in the Work Plan or elsewhere in a grant proposal.

CAPACITY: The ability or competence of an applicant and its partners, if any, to implement its activities, to achieve its objectives, to accomplish its goals, and to advance its vision or mission. Alternatively, an ability or competence, created as a consequence of a grant award, to perform later tasks or activities similar to those performed during a grant period.

COLLABORATION: The processes of implementing shared goals, joint leadership, and shared responsibility and accountability, and of accruing shared resources and benefits during a project or initiative; often they are described as part of a Management Plan. Also see: Management Plan.

COMMITMENT: A measure of an applicant’s or a partnership’s investment of its own limited financial and programmatic resources in undertaking a project or initiative proposed for grant funding.

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 scoring rubric that 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 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.

A later post will cover entries in this glossary with the initial letters E-N.

%d bloggers like this: