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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 P to Z. Its context is the United States of America.

 

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 role for personnel 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 that 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 impacts.

 

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 a table. Also see: Milestone.

 

VISION: A clear and concise statement of an applicant’s purpose, values, and aspirations for its mid-term or long-term future, presented as its inspiration or motivation for what it does in the present. In a proposal, an applicant commonly links its organizational vision to its Work Plan and to the grant maker’s purposes for making grants. Also see: Mission.

 

This post concludes a five-part series on Proposal Development.

 

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

 

OUTCOME: The desired and intended quantitative or qualitative end result or consequence of a set of activities undertaken to achieve one or more objectives. It is often used as a measurement of effect rather than of effort. Examples: 50% reduction in long-term 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. It is often used as a measurement of effort rather than of effect. Examples: Four new geography units; ten parental education workshops; six program newsletters; 30 home visits; a new 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; parents of newborns; 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.

 

PARTNERSHIP: Two or more individuals or organizations, working with each other under an often formal and legally enforceable agreement to accomplish the objectives and attain the goals of a grant-funded project or initiative, and often contributing cash or in-kind resources or both towards its budget.

 

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. It is also called a Program Design or a Work Plan.

 

PRELIMINARY PROPOSAL: A partial proposal, having some but not all elements of a complete proposal such as a plan of action and a budget, submitted to a grant maker for a review to determine whether it merits subsequent submission as a complete proposal. Also called a Pre-

Proposal. Also see: Full Proposal.

 

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 proposing a grant-funded 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 represent one. Also see: Need.

 

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. It 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. It is also called a Plan of Action or a Work Plan.

 

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

 

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.

 

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 C to I. Its context is the United States of America.

 

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 elements of a scoring rubric or proposal review form that reviewers or other 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 intentional 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.

 

EVALUATION: The analysis of the degree to which an applicant, as a grant recipient, implements its activities, achieves its objectives, and attains its goals, and an analysis of obstacles to progress and strategies used for overcoming them. Evaluation may be formative or summative. It may use qualitative or quantitative measures or both. It often describes both processes and outcomes. It states what will be done, who will do it with what and where, when and how often it will be done, and (often) why it will be done.

 

EVALUATION PLAN: An applicant’s proposed scheme, method, or program for collecting, measuring, analyzing, and reporting data about the progress and outcomes of a project or initiative, and for ascertaining, describing, and confirming the degree to which it has achieved its objectives and attained its goals.

 

FORMATIVE EVALUATION: Monitoring that occurs at set intervals during a project or initiative; it yields feedback that often leads to adjustments and corrective action during the course of that project or initiative. Also may be called Process Evaluation. Also see: Summative Evaluation.

 

FULL PROPOSAL: A complete proposal submitted to a grant maker for a review of its merits for subsequent grant funding. Also see: Preliminary Proposal.

 

GOAL: A desired long-term accomplishment or a general and desired direction of change, often stated in abstract or global terms. The goal normally reflects the mission of the applicant and/or the funding purposes of a specific grant maker. Also see: Objective.

 

GRANT SEEKER: An actual or potential applicant for a grant award.

 

IMPACT: A tangible or quantifiable long-term outcome of a grant-funded project or initiative, often framed in broad terms as a desirable or ideal condition or state of affairs and as a consequence or effect attributable to attaining one or more of its objectives.

 

IMPLEMENTATION: The process of doing the activities specifically described in a proposal and any others (e.g., fiscal management and performance monitoring) that are explicitly required by a funder or are deemed necessary, often implicitly as a matter of course, to the success of a project or initiative.

 

INDICATOR: A measure of the need for some aspect of a project or initiative. Alternatively, a measure of the direct outcomes and results of a project or initiative for its participants and for its intended beneficiaries; in this latter sense, it also may be called a Performance Measure or a Performance Indicator. Also see: Need.

 

INPUT: A tangible or quantifiable resource invested in the pursuit of the specific outcomes and impacts sought in a grant-funded project or initiative. Examples: Time, expertise, funding, personnel, supplies, facilities, and technologies.

 

A later post will cover entries in this Glossary with the initial letters J to O.

 

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 A to C. Its context is the United States of America.

 

ACTIVITY: A step or action taken to achieve one or more project objectives. Often many steps or actions are necessary to achieve each objective in a project or initiative. 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. Also see: Objective.

 

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

 

APPLICANT: The individual or organization seeking a grant and proposing to manage, expend, and account for expenditures and results 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 grant-funded project or an initiative aspires. Example: Becoming a nationally validated model program. Alternatively, an internal periodic target towards which a grant-funded 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 grant-funded 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: Lower dropout rates or longer life expectancy.

 

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. Also see: Mission and Vision.

 

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.

 

A later post will cover entries in this Glossary with the initial letters C to I.

 

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